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.
Jobs in the UAV 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.
Drone Pilot Salaries
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.