As civilian uses and business applications for drones increase, there is a rising demand for pilots that can expertly fly drones. A real estate agent may need aerial videos and photos of the home that he is selling, but does not want to buy a drone and learn how to fly it. Or a construction business may want an aerial view of a site but does not want to hire a helicopter to film the area. As businesses and other entrepreneurs are learning how drones can help them, there is an increased need for experienced pilots who can navigate and fly drones.
If you love flying drones, you may want to develop your skills further and train to become a professional drone pilot. You can then make money by offering your drone pilot services for hire. Demand for expert drone pilots is increasing, and income potential can be significant. You can earn anywhere from about $50,000- $100,000 a year flying drones, with some freelance drone pilots earning about $50 per hour and more.
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To become a professional drone pilot, you need the following:
- Technical knowledge of drones such as motors and propellers, performance flight times, electronic speed controls, fuel/flight, battery, weight and balance, service and maintenance, among others.
- Advanced drone piloting skills – e.g. flying in different directions, taking off, stabilizing and hovering, safe landing, flying in manual mode without the GPS and other high-tech systems, among others.
- Experience in flying drones
- To be able to charge higher, you need to show a proper certification that you have completed drone piloting courses such as the one offered by the Unmanned Vehicle University in Virginia.
- Knowledgeable about laws governing the use of unmanned aircraft and abreast of any new developments in the regulations on drones. The laws on flying drones, while still restrictive, are rapidly changing and it is up to you to tell your clients whether what they want done with a drone is within the bounds of the existing regulations.
- UAV hardware, software, with high quality camera and other accessories needed for the assignments that you work on
- Software such as Adobe Photoshop for images
- Video editing software such as Lightswork
- Portfolio showcasing your work – the types of jobs that you have worked on, and some samples of your work
- Your own website where you can fully showcase your skills and body of work.
There are several places online that allows you to sign up as a drone pilot for hire or find jobs for drone pilots, such as
- Hire a UVA Pro http://www.hireuavpro.com/
- LocalDrones.net http://localdrones.net/
- Dronejobz.com http://dronejobz.com/
- DroneBase.com http://www.dronebase.com/pilots
- Batcam.tv is a professional filming company based in UK and they need drone pilots to film footages for them
- SkyCatch.com’s Workmode https://www.skycatch.com/workmode/, whose clients require maps and data (mostly construction, mining, agriculture, and energy companies)
- Job sites such as Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com regularly have job listings for drone pilots
- Air Vid http://air-vid.com/ has a directory for aerial drone imaging and video pilots
- Freelance sites such as UpWork
To learn more about drones, check out the following books:
- Aerial Photography and Videography Using Drones
- Getting Started with Drones: Build and Customize Your Own Quadcopter
- Drone Operator’s Logbook
- Drone University
- Drones, UAVs and Quadcopters: The Must-Have Guidebook for Beginners and Professional Drone, UAV & Quadcopter Pilots (Flying, Making Money, Filming, Laws, … and more!) (Drones, UAVs & Quad Copters 1)
- Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them.