As the UAS industry continues to evolve it must come as no surprise that drone pilots jobs are increasing proportionally with this expansion. Just like the rapid growth of the mobile phone network a few decades ago there are now many opportunities for solo operators, small businesses, and large companies.
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Drone pilots have several benefits to enjoy and to look forward to as they begin and continue their careers.
With the growth of the UAS industry there is a high probability of continuous and secure employment. Estimates from industry associations suggest that there will be hundreds of thousand of new drone pilots jobs in the USA and the UK in the next few decades.
Along with the jobs for drone pilots themselves there are all the other roles that the industry creates; trainers, hardware designers, software developers, engineers, and regulatory, ancillary & administration staff.
The same expansion could create demand that exceeds supply and thereby increase salaries for drone pilots with competition for the number of experienced UAV operators, especially those with rare skills.
Some drone pilots have opted for starting their own companies and finding work through their own marketing skills. Others prefer to leave running a business to an employer and have found positions in companies that provide the advantages of steady employment.
Salaries are of course commensurate with skills and experience. An ex-military UAV pilot who use to fly Reapers and is now operating a civilian equivalent for meteorological research purposes will earn more than a DJI Phantom pilot doing urban roof inspections!
Job Variety & Interest
There are already many uses for UAV and as new hardware and software is developed this is likely to continue to increase. Drone pilots can expect to be given tasks that test their abilities in variety of environments and climates.
A drone pilot can expect to work in rural, urban, and industrial areas. There is no limit to where filming might be required from one week to the next. It’s part of the attraction and adds a certain level of excitement not knowing where you’ll be from one week to the next.
Following on from the point about variety there are also the prospect of foreign travel. Although the UAS industry in expanding rapidly the growth is not consistent among countries in the developed world.
Already drone pilots in the UK and USA are finding that their skills are required not just at home but abroad too. Some countries still have strict regulations that have slowed or even prohibited the growth of the UAS industry. However, the demand for aerial photography remains so companies that need that service have looked abroad and contracted out for the task.
Drone pilots who specialise in a particular discipline can develop skills that are rare and therefore in high demand.
Like all technologies there few people who are experts in every field and most will choose to have one main area of expertise while still being competent in several others.
There’s an old joke in aviation:
Q: How can you tell if there’s a pilot in the room?
A: He’ll tell you.
Let’s face it, when someone asks you what you do for a living telling them you fly drones is likely to be the start of an interesting conversation, even if the listener is wary of them and the risks, real or imagined.
People are interested in new technology and drones are at the leading edge now. The only disadvantage to this curiosity is that some people see fit to walk up to you with a list of questions while you’re concentrating on flying safely and according to the flight plan!
For those who have begun a career in this new Drone Age then the prospects are very good indeed. As described above there is likely to be job security, opportunities for variety, and rising salaries.
However, drone pilots will need to maintain their skills and learn new ones. As the technology develops so will they also need to keep abreast of these developments and incorporate them into their skillsets.
If at any time flying the drones themselves with all that it involves; travel (domestic or foreign), being out in all weathers, and locations etc, then the UAV operator can move into a variety of roles that will make use of his or her experience in the field.
All those entries in the pilot’s logbook can become fertile ground for developers and designers who know first hand where there is room for improvement in both aircraft design and software utilities.
Drone sales have soared in the past few years and their popularity with businesses is increasing all the time. UAV operators offering drone video services are widely available and in constant demand.
Companies are using this new technology to upgrade their marketing efforts, improve customer service and produce stunning imagery on a modest budget. No one knows how quickly companies could begin to see an ROI from these unmanned aircraft, but as with any new technology it pays to be ahead of the curve.
As the quality of drone footage improves from one year to the next many marketing professionals are enlisting UAV operators offering drone video services and ask them to create breathtaking visual content. Armed with this media they can offer consumers stunning shots taken from fresh perspectives, even if they’re working with a modest budget.
Affordability is and will continue to be a unique selling point; even small to medium sized businesses will be able to produce professional grade audiovisuals with a minimum of experience. This immediacy will also prevent the kind of delays which are associated with adopting a new technology; many of the applications employed by drones are designed to be user friendly and accessible to all.
However, if a company would prefer not to operate a drone in-house, there is an ever increasing database of stock photos and videos available online.
Drone footage lends itself well to innovation and creatively, the kind of marketing teams that enjoy experimenting with their output will appreciate the super-fast time to market speeds drone video services can provide. However, aerial video production is also making inroads into many traditional professions.
For architecture teams, drone video services represent a more economical solution than manned aircraft when aerial photographs or video are needed. Drones can relay data that enables drafts people and builders to map an area to the finest detail, producing highly accurate representations of the space below.
Drones can also be useful when it comes to selling new homes, as people are far more inspired by smooth HD video showing a 360 degree view, than they would be by flat floor plans and photos.
Similarly, estate agents can enlist drones to deliver an in-depth view of not only a house or apartment, but the surrounding properties, local shops and the neighbourhood. This gives potential buyers a greater sense of what the area is like and whether it could be right for them.
In turn this enables estate agents to market available properties more effectively, finding buyers who are more likely follow through with a sale, before they even arrange a viewing.
The travel and tourism industry is also set to be revolutionised by drone technology. Short aerial videos provide a company’s target market with excellent quality videography revealing a unique view of each resort and its location. The footage can promote not just individual hotels, but the attractions which surround the resort, the tours guests could take and the various destinations nearby.
Luxury hotels set in remote locations often look even more exquisite when filmed from an aerial perspective; the property can use drone footage to highlight its surroundings, manicured gardens and idyllic beach from every angle, using visual imagery which would never be as striking in a static, terrestrial shot. Guests gain the kind of overview that they can look forward to seeing when they arrive, getting a feel for the entire property and increasing their desire to visit.
YouTubers who bring something fresh and new to viewers can quickly begin to make money through advertising revenue, and merchandise. Drone footage that is well-shot and delivers interesting images can attract huge numbers of subscribers, from daredevil stunts, to visions of the natural world and buildings that cannot be reached on foot.
Once subscriber numbers are up, users can promote their products, advertise their website or sign up to be a YouTube advertising partner.
There’s no doubt that a drone video service can raise the standard of cinematography and visual communication for filmmakers working independently, even those on a strict budget. Many viewers have become accustomed to establishing shots filmed using a drone, but whilst miles of unspoilt wilderness or vibrant city streets do look great, the technology is capable of more.
Filmmakers can use drone shots for tracking a scene, establishing a reveal and a variety of artistic shots. Just think back to the opening scene of the James Bond outing, Skyfall, where Agent 007 was captured by drones as he tracked down a terrorist.
In any level of cinematic production, budgetary concerns always loom large. Using a drone can alleviate some of that stress by reducing the need for specialist knowledge and equipment like tracks, cranes and jibs. A drone is much smaller than this cumbersome set up and can capture shots in any space fast, saving both time and money.
Drone photography has become a major trend in the wedding industry, with many would-be couples choosing to capture their big day in an original way. Drones are associated with sweeping panoramic shots, but they can be there right from the start, recording the church ceremony, the guest’s reactions and the surroundings, all without ever disturbing the event.
If spotted at the reception, drones can make a fun distraction, as many people are unfamiliar with them and feel entertained by watching them dart around. Many couples choose to have a drone service at their wedding because it can give the event a star quality.
It’s a sophisticated, high-end alternative to having a wedding photographer; there is no need for flash photography and no unnatural breaks in the ceremony for a quick snap – so the day feels more natural.
Couples can also use drone photography to showcase elements of the venue which are especially beautiful or significant to them, in a dynamic way. From historic buildings, to churches and contemporary hotels, these flying cameras can produce images that will remain fascinating for years to come.
Being airborne a drone can easily take shots and video which would otherwise be impossible to achieve, children playing on the lawn whilst the bride and her mother hug nearby, the groom nervously pacing and the family beaming with pride. All of these intimate moments can be edited together to produce an emotional record of the day.
It’s not just the creative world which has found a use for aerial video production; in the UK many industrial companies are also considering the benefits of a drone video service. There are endless applications for drones in terms of providing data and collecting images for commercial concerns.
Utility companies need to maintain oil, gas and electricity lines, and civil engineers can use the information for mapping and surveying an area. There is also huge potential for drone use in the insurance industry, especially when a flood or other devastating natural event has affected people’s homes. Drones could be sent in to places that assessors cannot yet reach, to photograph the aftermath and enable claims to be processed faster.
Drone technology has only been available since 2012 and industry insiders believe that it will be the end users, rather than the manufacturers that decide what changes the future will bring. New innovations will emerge depending on the ways in which drones are incorporated into the commercial and private world.
Right now many drones are future proof; they can be adapted by software developers using apps to change how they work and produce a more bespoke result. The hope is that drones will become integrated into our lives in the same way as smart phones have, partly used as an entertainment device, but also capable of much more.
We know the technology works, so now one of the biggest challenges is acceptance; once people have seen the benefits they can better understand the possibilities.
When it comes to selling houses it must surely be a complete no-brainer if you have the option of using drone videography and imagery. Aerial property photography now replaces those few snaps taken in the driveway and the back garden. You can now showcase a property with an aerial video that takes you on a guided tour both inside and out.
Aerial videos and images of properties are a boon to buyers who need to know what is adjacent to and close by the property as well as what lies within its boundaries. Little is left hidden when you have a view from 350ft. You can spot a nearby scrap yard or pig farm that the estate agent conveniently forgot to mention.
Drones used for property photography really come into their own when there are larger areas to cover, particularly if it’s not a garden but open land. It may be impractical to cover the area on foot and yet the buyer would like to inspect what’s over the hedge or across the stream.
Aerial photos provide clarity. The photo can be edited to show the boundaries of the property so that it matches the plot plan. This creates an at-a-glance image that removes any doubt and creates some reassurance for the buyer.
Everything takes on a different look when seen from the air. The aerial view can enhance an otherwise nondescript property and reveal it to be an overlooked gem. Properties that seem all too familiar from the ground are suddenly seen afresh.
Drones can also be used to create smooth flowing tours around the interior of a property. The footage can be combined with any taken using hand held gimbal equipped cameras to produce short films like the one below which are a pleasure to watch in themselves.
As with all filming but even more so with property photography, weather, season, time of day, and position of the sun are going to be a factor. If you want to make a point of showing the viewer a certain part of the property (because it’s the main feature or a great selling point) then will all those preceding factors be optimal for the shot? Will the sun be in the drone camera lens just as you pan around to that side of the building?
The golden hours (an hour after sunrise, an hour before sunset) can be used to great effect for property photography. The loss of daylight in the winter months in the UK mean there are fewer opportunities for filming but there are some advantages.
Think of those frosty mornings when the air is still and the sky is clear. Capture your property when the shadows are still long and as you fly your drone over it pull back over the top to reveal it in all its glory. The contrast of the still frosty ground in the shade against the sunlit areas that are frost free can produce a dramatic effect.
It can only be a matter of time before a prospective buyer will be able to inspect the inside of the property using a virtual reality tour. You’ll be able to sit at home or in the office and walk from virtual room to virtual room. You can then enjoy an aerial video that can shows the exterior and the location in as equal detail.
Perhaps you’re a home owner who just want to create an aerial video of the property for the family archive. All you’ll need is one of the latest camera equipped UAVs like the DJI Phantom 4 Professional Aerial UAV Quadcopter Drone with Built-In 4K Full HD Video Camera & Sport Mode.
With careful and gradual practice you’ll be able to achieve the desired result and impress your family and friends with your footage. Just be sure to abide by the rules and regulations for drone use in the UK or your home country.