A career as a drone pilot can be a rewarding and exciting profession, offering many benefits and opportunities for growth. However, like any career, it also comes with its own set of challenges and considerations.
With more companies recognising the potential of drones in their operations, there is excellent potential for growth in your career as a drone pilot – but it takes hard work. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at all that goes into having a career in the world of drones: training requirements, job opportunities and more. So read on to discover if becoming a drone pilot might be your right career choice!
Career As A Drone Pilot – Benefits
One of the biggest benefits of career as a drone pilot is the opportunity to work in a growing and dynamic field. Drones are becoming increasingly popular in various industries, from agriculture and construction to film and photography, law enforcement, and search and rescue. As a result, the demand for skilled drone pilots is rising; according to a report by Grand View Research, the commercial drone industry is set to explode in the next decade.
Another benefit of being a drone pilot is the ability to work with cutting-edge technology. Drones are becoming more advanced, with features like autonomous flight, obstacle avoidance, GPS correctional technology such as PPK or RTK and professional cameras. A career as a drone pilot, you will get to learn and work with this technology, which can be both challenging, exciting and rewarding.
The job of a drone pilot also offers a lot of flexibility. Drone pilots can work in a variety of settings, from office environments to outdoor locations. They can also choose to work full-time or part-time or even start their own drone-related business.
However, becoming a drone pilot does require a significant amount of training and education. Most employers will require pilots to have a valid pilot’s license and some experience. Drone pilots are required to pass an aviation knowledge test, also known as the FAA Part 107 certificate. The Part 107 is a multiple-choice exam that requires students to achieve a 70% mark to pass. It can be taken at one of the many FAA-approved test centres and has a $175 exam fee that is non-refundable.
Finally, it’s important to note that while the job outlook for drone pilots is positive, the field is still relatively new, and the regulations can be complex. The FAA has implemented many rules and regulations related to the operation of drones, which pilots need to be aware of and comply with.
These laws are constantly being updated as drone technology evolves, so it is paramount that drone pilots regularly keep themselves in the know regarding any changes to the regulations so that they don’t break any law unknowingly.
Is It Hard To Become a Certified Drone Pilot?
Becoming a commercial drone pilot is relatively easy as long as you meet specific Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements. To be eligible, you must be at least 16 years old, able to read and write in English and be of sound health both physically and mentally.
The Part 107 test can be taken at an FAA-approved testing centre. Once you have passed, you can apply for the remote pilot certificate by submitting an application to the FAA. Additionally, you will have to pass a TSA security background check and pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every two years. The process is simple, but it still requires understanding aviation laws and regulations and knowledge of the drone you will be operating. However, with the proper training, knowledge, and experience, becoming a commercial drone pilot is a viable career path.
Career As A Drone Pilot – Job Prospects
Becoming a certified drone pilot may be the easiest part of your career as a commercial drone pilot.
While There are a variety of job opportunities available for commercial drone pilots, from aerial photography and videography to building inspection and 3D mapping, many of these jobs will require you to have some expertise in that particular field.
For example, if you want a career as a drone photographer or videographer, a skill set you will need to truly stand out is in post-processing.
Likewise, for drone inspection or mapping, you will need to have some background in surveying or civil engineering to show potential employers that you have some experience in these areas.
Here are some of the job prospects for a career as a drone pilot:
- Aerial photography and videography: Drone pilots can capture stunning aerial footage and photographs for a variety of industries, such as real estate, film, and television.
- Inspection: Drone pilots can inspect and survey hard-to-reach areas such as industrial equipment, bridges, and buildings, providing cost-effective and efficient solutions for various industries.
- Agriculture: Drones can be used for precision agriculture, crop monitoring, and surveying large areas of land for farmers.
- Search and rescue: Drones can be used in search and rescue operations to locate missing persons and cover large areas of land quickly.
- Environmental monitoring: Drones can be used to monitor wildlife, track environmental changes, and assess the health of forests and wetlands.
- Delivery: Drones are increasingly used for the delivery of goods, from small packages to medical supplies.
- Surveying and mapping: Drones can be used to create 3D maps, land surveying, and topographic mapping.
These are just a few examples of the different job opportunities available for commercial drone pilots. New job opportunities will likely arise as the drone industry continues to grow.
Drone Pilot Salary
The salary of a commercial drone pilot can vary widely depending on a few factors such as location, experience, and the type of job they are performing. According to salary.com, the average salary for a commercial drone pilot is around $80,000 per year, with a range of around $60,000 to $100,000 per year. However, some drone pilots with specialised skills and experience can earn significantly more. For example, a drone pilot with experience in surveying or building inspection may command higher rates for their services.
It’s important to note that the drone industry is relatively new and the salary for the pilot can vary greatly depending on the country, region, and company. It’s also worth noting that, for some pilots, drone piloting may be a part-time or freelance job rather than a full-time career, which can affect the overall salary.
If you have an entrepreneurial mind, you should consider starting a drone-related business. This industry is still very young, and there are many ways to start a drone business, a few that will not require operating a drone.
For example, you can start a drone reselling or renting business. Depending on your target market, this can include a wide range of drones, from small consumer drones to large industrial ones. You can also sell or rent out additional equipment, such as cameras, batteries, and other accessories.
Another area that may interest people is developing drone software applications that will provide valuable services to businesses and organisations that are utilising drone technology.
There are several options for starting a drone software business, including:
- Drone data processing software: You can develop software that processes data collected by drones, such as images and videos, and converts it into useful information for businesses. For example, you can develop software that can create 3D models and maps from drone images.
- Drone fleet management software: You can develop software that helps businesses manage their fleet of drones, including scheduling and coordinating flights, tracking the drones in real time, and monitoring their performance.
- Drone navigation software: You can develop software that helps drones navigate and fly autonomously, such as software that can plan routes and avoid obstacles.
- Drone security software: You can develop software that helps to secure drone networks and protect them from cyber threats.
- Drone simulation software: You can develop software that allows businesses to simulate drone flights and test different scenarios before flying the drone.
- Drone mobile applications: You can develop mobile applications that allow users to control their drones, plan flights, and view data from the drones.
Starting a drone software business can be a great way to leverage your technical skills and provide valuable services to businesses and organisations in the drone industry. It’s also worth noting that a drone software business can have relatively low overhead costs compared to other businesses, as software development does not require expensive equipment.
Check out this article for more drone-related business ideas.
In conclusion, a career as a drone pilot can be a highly rewarding and exciting career, offering many benefits and opportunities for growth. However, it does comes with its own set of challenges, including the need for continuous training, and keeping up to date with regulations. If you are interested in this field, it is essential to consider these factors carefully and thoroughly research the requirements and qualifications necessary to become a drone pilot.