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.
Drone Pilots Jobs – The Advantages
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Drone pilots have several benefits to enjoy and to look forward to as they begin and continue their careers.
Unmanned Aviation Jobs & Employment
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.
Becoming an Expert
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!
Good Prospects For Drone Pilots Jobs
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.