How to Become A Drone Pilot And Fly For A Living

Drone Shopping Trolley


Carve Out an Exciting and Rewarding Career


You have a lot of fun and enjoy flying your personal Quadcopter recreationally, but have you ever thought about flying Drones for a living??


Drones, also known as UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are being recognized more and more for their commercial benefits and as a result, there is also an increasing demand for skilled UAV pilots to operate them.


You don’t need to have vastly superior or advanced flying skills to be a Drone Pilot, but it’s important that you are professional and have had the relevant training so you can carry out your work in the correct way, flying within the rules and regulations and ensuring your equipment is fit for purpose.


Drones are much more popular and affordable to own these days, including higher spec ones with sophisticated GPS and extremely high quality video camera abilities up to 4k, so it’s not surprising there is increasing demand for qualified Drone pilots in a variety of industries.

Drone Work Opportunities


There are a lot of ways to make money with Drones.


Established and growing areas where the services of a good Drone pilot are needed are;


  • Agriculture
  • Public Services
  • Photography and Filmmaking
  • Security
  • Industrial Mapping and Surveying
  • Engineering
  • Oil and Gas Exploration
  • Commercial Deliveries/Collections


Many traditional aeroplane pilots are recognizing the UAV pilot opportunities available as there is a demand for the skills needed, but so too are serious Drone hobbyist pilots too.


The FAA has predicted there will be around 70,000 jobs created within the Drone industry by the year 2018 and this is looking quite a reasonable prediction!


It has also been projected by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International that there will be approximately 100,000 new job opportunities created in the first 10 years after UAVs are allowed to be widely used for commercial purposes.


There is also the added benefit of working outdoors for those who don’t like to be stuck behind a desk!


Mapping drone to fly over July Fire area

Source: Bureau of Land Management



How Much Can I Earn As A Commercial Drone Pilot?


Like most kinds of work, you can either choose to be employed by a company or work for yourself, so rates of pay will differ.


For example, according to Al Palmer, Director of the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems at the University of North Dakota, some larger employers are already paying very handsomely for good Drone pilots – up to $50 an hour, or over $100,000 a year!


If you are self employed and depending on what specific services you offer, for a professional project you could expect to ask for between $500 to $750 per day.


Even for something like professional wedding photography, you can expect to pay anything from on average of £2,500 and sometimes up to $4,000, so imagine adding an extra special aerial dimension – it could get you a lot of business and make your services truly stand out…



How Can I Become a Drone Pilot?


First of all you need to be sure that this is right for you and we recommend if you don’t already have any flight skills, invest in a Camera Drone, test it out and get some basic flying skills experience and play around with the camera.


The next step is to invest in some training and prepare to get certified as a Drone Pilot.


You also need to do some research on what area of commercial activity you want to undertake and start enquiring with companies in your location about possible future opportunities.

Drone Pilot License and Certification


In most cases, to fly a Drone commercially you will need to comply with rules and regulations and have certified training.


For example, in the USA, the rules for non-hobbyist UAV pilots flying for commercial work require at minimum a Part 107 drone airman or remote pilot certification.


There are also restrictions on the equipment and usage, for example;


  • The Drone should weigh less than 55 pounds
  • It can only be operated at a maximum of 400 feet above ground level
  • May only be operated during daylight
  • In approved airspace and always in line of sight of the operator


You can find more details here – FAA fact Sheet – Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations (Part 107).


Drone Pilot Training and Training Courses


There are a lot of companies that can provide you with the relevant recognized training you will need, so it’s a case of seeing what’s out there and taking the plunge to invest in yourself.


The costs vary depending on your requirements.


For example, if you want online Part 107 Test Preparation it’s going to cost you around $250, but if you want the full Professional Drone Pilot Package then that’s going to be around $1,500.

Drone pilots are going to be in demand for a long time to come and so choose the right Drone training and development program that’s right for you.


If you have any questions or comments please get in touch below as we would love to hear from you.


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