Many job seekers look for an employment opportunity that includes some of their passions or hobbies, but more often than not the “perfect” job seems unattainable.
If you own a drone, love to fly it, and have your drone license, there may be several lucrative employment opportunities in your future.
Learn more about the drone industry and how to land your first paying job as a drone pilot.
Industries Looking For Licensed Drone Pilots
Before we discuss how to get a job as a drone pilot and give you tips on how to get your drone license, let’s take a closer look at the variety of industries that are almost always on the lookout for drone pilots and use them regularly.
For years, real estate photography was limited to standard “point and shoot” shots of the property or an aerial photo that didn’t showcase many details of the property for sale.
Today, thanks to a drone’s ability to get up close and photograph various angles from a unique vantage point, drone operators are in high demand in the real estate industry.
Some real estate companies have their own drone photographer, while others hire a drone pilot on a contract or an “as needed” basis.
Similar to the real estate industry, drones can provide an up-close look at projects and structures that are otherwise difficult to do without special equipment or sacrificing safety.
Without a drone operator providing their expertise and services, the construction industry has to spend valuable time and money manually surveying areas, which can be expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous for all workers on the job.
Entertainment And Events
Filmmakers, music concert organizers, and various other events (such as weddings) often hire drone pilots to help with filming live footage or taking photographs. Since the entertainment industry is expansive, you can fly your drone locally or even at a national level.
Many drone pilots, who are hired by the entertainment industry, are freelance pilots and you may work for a few hours or on a longer project.
While the real estate, construction, and entertainment industries are some of the most common industries to use drones regularly, there are other industries that use drones or are expected to drones more frequently:
- Public safety: search and rescue or crime mapping
- Insurance: structural inspections or claim assessments
- Journalism: photojournalism or reporting
- Agriculture: crop mapping
- Transportation and infrastructure
Searching for a Job as a Drone Pilot
Since drone pilots are in high demand, you can start your job search online by entering “drone pilot jobs,” “drone jobs,” or even “UAV jobs.” Popular job sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor are good places to start your search.
If there’s a specific position you want, such as a drone photographer, you can narrow your search to get search results that are more applicable to your interests and experience. Don’t forget to add your city or region in your job search to find drone jobs that are close by (if that’s important).
There are also U.S. Certified Drone Pilot Directories and Networks, such as DroneBase and Drone Mega Pages, that can also directly link you to drone jobs or other helpful resources to obtaining a drone job.
Creating Your Own Business as a Drone Pilot
Many drone operators with a commercial drone license prefer to create their own business and work freelance. Creating your own drone business offers flexibility and the ability to work as little or as much as you want. You can choose your own hours and wages.
While you have freedom as a freelance drone pilot, there are a few things to consider in order to stay successfully self-employed in the drone industry.
Pay Attention to the Competition
A job in the drone industry can be lucrative, but a lot depends on how often you work, how much you charge, and your level of experience.
As you are starting out, you may have to decide on an hourly wage that is lower than some of your competitors. Once you build up your portfolio and gain experience, you have a greater chance to make more money.
In addition to seeing how much your competitors charge, pay attention to how they market themselves and find a way to make yourself stand out. If you are open and able to travel, that may be a great way to set yourself apart from your competition.
Whether you want to work for a specific industry like real estate or you want to work for anyone who will hire you, you need to market yourself and work hard to get noticed. As the drone industry continues to grow, so will the competition.
If you are serious about making money with your drone, it’s essential to network, have a social media presence, and even consider registering with drone directories, such as DroneBase.
Build Your Portfolio and Reputation
Your reputation as a drone operator is as important as your portfolio. Whether you’re looking for a permanent drone job with a large corporation or want to work as a freelancer, you will benefit from having previous clients who can offer raving reviews.
When creating a portfolio, choose material that highlights your talent and versatility. Don’t forget to add information such as certifications, renewals, and any continuing education courses you take that may be related to drone operations.
Be Prepared to Spend Money to Make Money
If you have a drone and a drone license, you might think that you’re set to enter the drone job force. While you may be able to pick up a few jobs, you should be prepared to spend money to make money in the drone industry.
Aside from the cost of your drone, you may need to invest in a computer, software, other drone equipment, as well as expenses related to marketing, certification or licensing. If you’re just getting started it’s also helpful if you can repair and maintain your drone.
Tips for Building Your Business as a Drone Pilot
Here are some additional things to consider when creating your own business in the drone industry:
- Be patient and work hard; it may take a while to establish yourself
- Be prepared to put in long hours
- Don’t be afraid to be creative
- Learn about various industries
- Get drone insurance
- Join community drone forums
- Always find ways to improve your drone operating skills
- Consider going to drone school
FAQ about Finding a Job in the Drone Industry
The thought of doing something you love every day, like flying a drone, and get paid to do it is exciting and may also be a little daunting. If you’re seriously considering getting a job in the drone industry here are some common questions that you might find helpful.
How much can you make as a drone pilot?
Some drone pilots earn six-figures a year. Starting pay can be $25 an hour or $100 an hour. Your wage is dependent on experience, who you work for, what you do, and how often you work.
How can I make more money as a drone pilot?
There’s no secret to making more money as a drone pilot, but many industry experts recommend specializing in a particular industry, such as construction or public safety, and make sure your software and equipment are up-to-date and applicable to the industry you want to work in.
Do I need a drone license to make a living as a drone operator?
Before you can legally make a profit off of operating your drone, you must have a commercial drone license, which is often known as Part 107 or FAA 107. To obtain your license, you must pass the FAA Knowledge Test and get recertified every two years.
Is drone school a requirement for getting a job in the drone industry?
For most drone jobs, experience and a license are all you need, but you may benefit from attending drone school. Online or in-person drone courses not only improve your skills as a drone operator but can help you prepare for passing your license exam.
Depending on the courses you take, drone school can cost hundreds or more, but you can consider it a worthy investment towards your business plan.
Can anyone get a drone job?
As long as you meet the requirements for obtaining a drone license, you can work towards getting a drone job or starting your own business.
A drone operator with a commercial license must be at least 16 years old, be physically and mentally able to operate a drone safely and lawfully, understand, write, and speak English, and follow all other guidelines and requirements.
The drone industry is unique for a number of reasons, including the diversity of employees. Whether you’re a retired airline pilot or a 20-something who is looking for freelance work, a drone job may be perfect for you.
Final Thoughts on Landing a Drone Job
If you love flying drones and you’re looking for a career change, the drone industry may be worth checking out.
While the drone industry is versatile and full of opportunities from big corporations to freelancing, you need to be prepared to invest money in the industry by purchasing equipment and obtaining a license.
Your success in the drone industry may not happen overnight and not without a lot of hard work and patience, but it can be financially rewarding and the type of work you’ll be eager to do day after day.