As the gig economy expands throughout the globe, new professions have emerged along with advances in technology, to serve the economic needs of a variety of businesses. A commercial drone pilot is one such career that serves a wide range of industries.
According to Markets estimate, organizations from a variety of sectors will spend more than $16 billion on drones and drone services, causing the drone service industry to generate 100,000 new jobs, by 2025 (aka within the next 3 years!).
Prospective drone pilots who are bold enough to take the plunge into this revolutionary profession will find employment that is both exciting and lucrative.
What is the Job of a Commercial Drone Pilot?
Commercial drone pilots, at the most basic level, fly drones for firms in a variety of sectors for a variety of objectives.
Drones are used by some businesses to shoot aerial images and films for marketing reasons, while others use them for aerial surveillance.
Commercial drone pilots handle a variety of drone demands for a range of enterprises. Some companies may own their own fleet of drones and be looking for skilled pilots. Others may hope to hire a professional with their own drown, who will come in ready to provide a specific service. By 2023, regulations may advance to match need (for example, relaxing the line-of-sight requirement) allowing for wider use of drones for deliveries. Specialized skills such as photography, videography, cartography, etc. along with a drone pilot license will make someone even more lucrative to hire.
Getting Started as a Commercial Drone Pilot
Obtain a drone pilot’s license
Obtaining a drone license is the first step to becoming a commercial drone pilot (commercial covers any way of making money as a drone pilot). If you sell drone images without a license, the FAA may fine you. According to the Pilot Institute, that fine could be as much as $32,666!
Anyone who flies a drone for a commercial, non-recreational, or governmental purpose must get specific authorization from the government.
This license is known as a Part 107 license, after the regulation that controls it.
For those living in the Chicago, IL or Gary, IN area, RBS Drone Technologies offers personal attention with in-person classes—including both classroom preparation for the exam, as well as hands-on drone flying.
This exam consists of more than 60 multiple-choice questions on setting up, operating, and securely utilizing a drone. To pass, you must properly answer 70% of the questions. RBS can guide you through other requirements, such as registering with the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (ICARA), then registering online for the $175 written exam, which may be taken at any FAA-approved facility. We work with a facility located near Midway Airport. (RBS also engages local businesses to sponsor students for related fees such as training and the exam.)
Applicants must be at least 16 years old and have a government-issued photo identification card.
The FAA also requires the ability to speak, read, write, and interpret English, as well as being in the physical and mental condition required to finish a drone flight.
Obtain drone insurance
Professional drone insurance is the next item you’ll need. Don’t assume that your personal or business insurance will cover this.
Drones are often excluded from coverage under most contemporary insurance. Instead, obtain a professional drone insurance policy from a provider like AIG or Avion that covers any mishaps.
If you are working for someone and they are providing the drone, be sure to ask how coverage works if anything happens (to the drone, property, etc.) while you are flying it.
Select a drone
Finally, you will need the drone itself. If you’re filming a video for a client, they’ll want it to appear professional, with fine detail and bright, clean color.
Business Applications for Commercial Drone Use
Businesses have mostly employed drones for video and photography, particularly for marketing reasons, however, there are numerous more uses of UAV technology that may surprise you, such as agricultural or delivery services.
Here are some examples of how pilots are presently utilizing drones and how they could be utilized in the future.
Agriculture: Drones may help farmers in a variety of ways. Agriculture is seen by many in the UAV business as a huge area of possibility for drone technology.
Drones may not only save farmers money by assisting them in identifying failed plants and taking agricultural inventory, but they can also be used to map and research fields and irrigation systems.
Architecture and construction: The usage of drones benefits architectural companies and construction contractors as well. Architects may utilize pictures and video footage of a site to generate 3D representations of the projects they want to construct.
Drone-based delivery services: These are one of the most apparent uses. While currently limited to a modest maximum load-bearing weight (55 pounds, including the drone itself), distribution by drone is another interesting use.
Companies such as Amazon, HUNGRY@ Home, Postmates, and Valqari are already planning drone deliveries.
However, you would need a 135 air carrier certification for that. Part 135 certification is the only way for tiny drones to transport someone else’s property for compensation outside visual line of sight.
Drones for emergency response: Using drones for emergency response services, especially for medical requirements, open up new avenues for life-saving interventions.
Using drones to provide eyes on a tough situation or to transport medical supplies to stranded patients might improve emergency response doctors’ abilities to provide treatment in challenging conditions.
Engineering organizations: They are also using drones for projects such as oil pipelines, transmission cables, and maintenance checks.
Drones are the present as well as expected to boom even more once the laws on them continue to respond to need and advancements in drone technology. So if you’re someone who enjoys flying drones or wants to make a career out of it, now is the time to bank on it.
If you are in the Chicagoland/Gary Indiana area, you can also register to train and become a professional drone pilot from here.