Ok you clearly need to here from someone who is HAPPY and made it to where you might want to go.
Finished civilian flight school at 25 years old CFII Heli plus SE Land FW private instrument.
Instructed for 2 years for sh*t pay worked 7 days a week ,I was really a paid intern. worked with a great bunch a guys that i'm tight with to this day who are are also ALL also very successful in this business. You will find out here if this is for you . Its is extremely hard job for the risk and pay. However loads of fun and great experience over all I don't regret one minute of it.
At 27 Recruited to fly at turbine operator . 3 times the pay slightly better hours. tours and eventually charter in twin turbines.
at 31 recruited to fly medium twins EMS NVG and eventually IFR for a great operator. I have an amazing schedule and home life. paid six figures to work half the year plus vacation on top of that benefits 401k matching etc etc etc. Deff haven't hit the pay ceiling in my region and have a stacked resume.
Pay is relative and last time I checked the majority of us do far better than most people who number 1 more likely than not hate there jobs and number 2 prob get paid far less. oh not to mention have a quarter of the time off. Don't believe me do you own research into average pay for occupations that take at a minimum BS or masters. See how the pay stacks up against us rotor jocks. you will be surprised and the majority of those people get into there chosen profession for the money and no other reason HAH!
As far as military guys having any kind of advantage in the civilian helicopter market , Ironically this couldn't be further from the truth.
I can tell you from experience that the only thing operators care about IN THIS MARKET is your flight time and experience as a helicopter pilot as well aswhat kind of employee you are. All the operators out there have there minimums and don't budge . They don't care if you were the POTUS, pope, or Jesus personal pilot in 10 engine stealth copter the mins are the mins and no one CARES.
This is a hard truth for the majority of modern MIL heli guys . They just don't rack up the time like Vietnam era guys . A large majority of them get out of the mill they realize its time to go flight instruct in R-22s with guys that have 200hrs to get the min time for a tour job.The other problem for them is recency, some of them haven't flown in years trust me it makes a difference for the interview ! So they usually go on to say there's no money in flying because all there qualified for is entry level jobs and are stuck with all the other guys trying to bust in and are ready to SWEAT and BLEED to get there!
SALTY old school MIL guys don't agree? AHAH with all do respect this not the late 70s and 80s and this job has turned into a viable lucrative career path for individuals that have the aptitude and motivation to stay the course. The real question is are you ready to work your ass off to get to the finish line . There is no way to get ahead in any field with out intense dedication combined with the willingness to take risk financial or otherwise. You tell me how that's different from any other occupation the world!
AS far as UAVS well know one knows for sure what kind of impact they will have. The technology is in its infancy ,no one on this site or really anywhere can tell you what will take place in the next 30 years. It has been stated by the very men that are fielding and implementing these systems in the the military arena that there are circumstances where it will never be suitable or logical to hand over the lives of passengers to an AI pilot. If its not a combat or a hostile environment what purpose what it serve to take out the human back up , NONE! Also Pilots are a cheap part of the total operating
Bottom Line Heli pilots will be here at the very least until your potential retirement. If you want this, Its totally possible. No ones going to give it you , you have to bust down the doors and make it happen.