Aerial Applicator / Ag Pilot
Agricultural pilots fly small planes at low altitudes in order to apply pesticides, fertilizers or fungicides on fields. It is an efficient way to spread these applications as it reduces the number of times a farmer has to drive over the field, reducing soil compaction.
What responsibilities will I have?
- Apply essential pesticides, fertilizer or fungicides to crops
- Assist firefighters in the containment and extinguishing of forest fires
- Mix and add chemicals to be applied into the plane
- Work to keep airplane and equipment properly maintained
- Record applications and report back to grower
- Keep track of applications and invoice growers for services performed
- Consider air speed, wind and weather to determine if conditions are appropriate for application and flying
- Mentor and help train new pilots
- Maintain certifications and licenses required for flying and chemical application
- Scout fields for problems that may be a danger to aerial application like electrical wires or structures
- Get to know farmers and landowners in the area in order to build clientele
What education and training is required?
You have to have a commercial pilot license through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with the required flying hours and medical examinations. Then you have to attend agricultural pilot training.
To pursue a career as an ag pilot
- The following high school courses are recommended: agricultural education, chemistry, business and mathematics.
Where can I work?
Most aerial applicators are self-employed and work directly with local farmers or through a local ag retailer.
Future Job Market / Outlook
The future outlook for Aerial Applicators will be very good over the next five years.
Suggested Professional Organizations and Associations
- National Agricultural Aviation Association
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
- United States Pilots Association