Category Archives for "Civilian Drones"
If you’re a recently qualified drone pilot, or if you have ambitions to become one, or if you’re just interested in UAV related careers then read this post to the end and it will give you some idea of current job prospects and career development opportunities.
I’ll touch briefly at current drone pilot jobs, related careers, and the salaries on offer.
I’ve made several videos that describe aspects of running your own UAV based business so if you’re interested in self-employment then check out my channel and playlists: https://www.youtube.com/c/BenLovegrove
So let’s get started.
We are now in the Drone Age and hardly a week goes by without some announcement of new developments in UAV technology. As with all technological advances there is a need for skilled personnel to fill vacancies created by the expansion.
With a little planning and the right training drone pilots and others can look forward to varied and rewarding careers within an exciting industry.
As anyone who has taken the first steps into the world of unmanned aviation knows, drones can be put to all kinds of uses.
There is the obvious task of aerial photography and cinematography, and there’s also mapping, modelling, inspections, and thermal imagery to name a few.
Check out my video “What Are Drones Used For? 31 Uses For Flying Drones and UAV” for more examples. In the comments section underneath the video people have suggested even more uses. Drone Related Careers
There’s more to the Drone Age than just piloting drones.
Drone related careers include those who design, build, customise, and maintain UAV of all shapes and sizes.
Engineers might specialise in the airframes, working with new materials that provide extra strength & improved aerodynamics, along with 3D printing.
While we’re on the subject of engineers it’s worth also mentioning the crossover between unmanned and manned aviation.
Who will design the most successful unmanned aircraft capable of carrying passengers?
Or will it be aerospace engineers who began designing conventional manned aircraft and migrated into unmanned aircraft.
There are software engineers who develop the operating systems and apps in both the UAV itself and its controller, or who specialise in AI and FPV.
Software developers are also required to solve the problem of how to track drones and how to maintain separation between them and other aircraft types.
There are the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers who keep the industry supplied with hardware and spares.
There are the training companies who, with the approval of their national aviation authority, train pilots to fly remotely piloted aircraft to a minimum standard of competence.
And we should also mention those who promote the industry by creating trade associations and networks providing marketing, mentoring, and support.
Companies like Drone Major Group, the world’s first global commercial organisation for the drone industry. Use this link to register for a free account either as a supplier of UAV related services or as a drone pilot.
By registering for an account (with optional upgrades and additional privileges) you can use the site to network with others and to make valuable contacts in your chosen field.
These and other similar regional trade associations like ARPAS-UK (Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems UK) require support staff skilled in administration, PR, marketing, and event management.
As with any other industry, drone pilot salaries are commensurate with skills and experience and there is likely to be a wide variation in pay.
Recently qualified pilots with fresh certificates that allow them to fly, for example, a DJI Inspire for commercial purposes can expect starting salaries in the region of £25,000 GBP ($34,000 USD, $44,000 AUD) at the time of writing (Summer, 2018). On the other hand, ex-military UAV Operators with years of experience operating large and medium sized UAV might earn three times that amount.
As with many industries the high earners are those who are a specialists with rare skills and who provide high productivity and flexibility.
For drone pilots this might mean not only having the right technical skills but also being willing to operate UAV whenever the light and weather allows.
That is likely to be from early in the morning to late in the evening in summer months, and on weekends when weekday flying is cancelled due to adverse weather.
Drone Engineers who design, build, program, and test new drones could earn much more than pilots.
Salaries in excess of $100,000 USD have been quoted but I’ve been unable to verify them.
Perhaps if you have inside information on salary levels you could add a comment below this video.
Just like the IT industry, salaries within the drone industry are hard to pin down as there are many variables. Aside from the candidate’s skills and experience there is the size and profitability of the company itself.
A startup drone company might offer lower salaries with share options. If it becomes a success then this could be worth far more than a higher starting salary with no share options. Wherever you fit into the Drone Age I wish you well with your career.
Thanks for reading. I hope you found this post of interest. Please like and share the post with those who might also be curious.
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.
Note: If you would prefer to hear this post instead of reading it then here’s the video version. You’ll find other videos of this type in my YouTube channel.
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.
European aviation regulator EASA has published a list of proposed new drone rules for operations within EU airspace. Take a look at a summary of these proposals on EASA’s website . Essentially they plan to divide drones into three categories based on the risk they present rather than take-off weight. Take-off weight has been the most popular drone categorisation for regulators like the UK CAA so far. Within the risk categories there will be further sub-divisions depending on the size of the drone and the type of operation.
These are just proposals for now and we all have until September to comment. The document explains how to do that.