How To Get A Job As An Agricultural Pilot (Crop Dusting Pilot or Aerial Applicator)

If done properly by a skilled Agricultural Pilot, or crop duster, spraying crops from the air can save a great deal of time and ensure that pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, are distributed evenly without damage from men and land vehicles.

Crop Dusting Pilots are paid well for their work, but be aware that the job is seasonal in nature and pilots must be prepared to travel, and possibly relocate, to areas where their services are needed.  The hours may be long and irregular.  Crop dusting is a dangerous job as the light planes flown must fly very close to the ground, often near buildings, trees, and power lines.

Because of environmental concerns about toxins in the environment, extremely precise maneuvering is needed to keep the plane on course and the dusting or spraying confined to the designated area.  Sudden unforeseen weather changes can make this job additionally hazardous.

In spite of the considerable cost involved, more and more farmers are making use of the services that only skilled and trained Agricultural Pilots can provide.  There is an increasing need for Crop Dusting Pilots, as more and more of the older established pilots are now retiring.

To be successful, Crop Dusting Pilots must be mature, physically fit, responsible, very precise, and able to concentrate completely on the job at hand.  They must be mechanically minded, have good hearing and good eyesight, excellent eye-hand coordination, and the ability to handle stress.  They must have considerable endurance and be safety minded.

Crop Dusting Pilots are responsible for making sure their planes are in peak condition.  They must often perform mechanical maintenance  before loading, and between flights.  They may measure and mix the materials that are to be sprayed, see that they are loaded properly loaded and stored, and connected to the release mechanism.  They check the weather forecast, plan their course, and, if all is safe, they take off.  On all jobs, Crop Dusting Pilots, because of the nature of their work, and the location of farmlands, usually take off and land in fields and unused roadways, instead of conventional airfields.


Becoming a Crop Dusting Pilot is a long and expensive process, so plan well ahead.  The first thing to remember is that the more flying experience you have, the better.

Get your high school degree.  Take courses in English, mathematics, computers, chemistry, physics, and any courses in mechanics available.  If possible, get a college degree.  Because of the seasonal nature of crop dusting, you may wish to get a part-time job during your down time.  Make sure you are qualified to do something else that you enjoy.

You will now need to get your pilot license.  License requirements vary depending on the type of aircraft you wish to fly, so make sure the course you choose qualifies you to fly a crop dusting plane.  To get this license, you must be at least eighteen years of age.  You must pass a physical exam, two written exams, and a flight test.  You must also have logged at least two hundred and fifty flying miles.

After you get the appropriate pilots license, you must get an agricultural pilot license. You will need very specific training to become an Agricultural Pilot.   Any extra flying experience, such as you might have gotten in the armed forces, is an asset when you apply for the license.

Another option is to get a job under the supervision of an experienced agricultural pilot, who can teach you the special skills you will need to become an Crop Dusting pilot.  The test for the agricultural pilot license is issued by the State.  It involves a regular flight test and a solo test.

For more information on the licenses and other requirements governing agricultural pilots, go to the website of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Once you have the required licenses, you will be ready for work.  You can also use these licenses to move into other areas of the aviation industry.