A drone operator is trained and licensed to pilot unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones. These operators are responsible for flying drones, controlling their movements, and operating onboard systems to capture images, videos, or data from an aerial perspective. Besides, there are lots of job opportunities for drone operators on Jooble that you can apply for to start your aerial career.
The average annual salary for a drone operator in the United States is $54,128. However, salaries vary significantly depending on experience, location, and industry. Drone operators with a few years of experience can expect to earn an average of $60,000 per year, while those with 5+ years of experience can earn an average of $80,000 per year or more.
Drone operators who work in certain industries, such as public safety or construction, can also earn higher salaries. For example, the average salary for a drone operator in the public safety industry is $65,000 per year, while the average salary for a drone operator in the construction industry is $70,000 yearly.
This article provides a detailed guide to becoming a drone operator.
Learn And Understand Local Regulations
To become a professional drone operator, you must first research and familiarize yourself with the regulations and laws governing drone operations in your region or country. You need to obtain the necessary licenses or certifications required for legal operation.
Get Educated And Trained
In addition, you need to enroll in a reputable drone training program or course. You should look for courses that cover FAA regulations, flight planning, aerial photography, safety protocols, and practical flight training. You can explore options from aviation schools, community colleges, online platforms, or specialized drone training academies. You should ensure that you select programs offering hands-on flight training with actual drones. Practical experience in piloting drones is essential for developing skills in maneuvering, navigation, and handling different scenarios.
Invest In Quality Equipment
To become a professional drone operator, you must invest in a reliable drone suited for your intended use. Besides, quality drones are built with better materials, ensuring durability and reliability during flights. This reduces the risk of malfunctions or equipment failure, enhancing overall safety. Furthermore, quality drones often have better payload capacities, allowing for attaching specialized equipment such as high-end cameras, sensors, or additional accessories required for specific tasks or industries.
They come equipped with higher-resolution cameras, superior lenses, and advanced sensors. This translates to capturing high-quality images, videos, and data essential for professional-grade photography, videography, or mapping.
Practice And Gain Experience
To become a good drone operator, you must practice flying drones regularly to enhance your piloting skills. You should try to gain experience in different environments, weather conditions, and scenarios to handle various challenges.
Obtain Necessary Certifications
Depending on your country’s regulations, obtain certifications such as the FAA Part 107 in the United States or other relevant certifications required for commercial drone operations. These certifications allow you to access a wider range of commercial opportunities, such as aerial photography, inspections, surveying, or other services.
Specialize And Define Your Niche
To become an expert drone operator, you must identify your area of interest or specialization, such as aerial photography, videography, surveying, mapping, inspections, or agriculture. You need to focus on developing expertise in your chosen niche. In a crowded market, specialization helps you stand out. It allows potential clients or employers to recognize your expertise in a particular field, making you a go-to professional for specific services. Clients often perceive specialized services as more valuable. They will always be ready to pay a premium for expertise and tailored solutions that address their specific needs or industries.
Build A Portfolio
Another pivotal step to take to become a professional drone operator is to create a portfolio showcasing your best work. You must include high-quality images or videos captured during practice flights or projects to demonstrate your skills to potential clients or employers.
Network And Market Yourself
Do not forget to network with professionals in related industries and market your services effectively. You can even utilize online platforms, social media, and industry-specific forums to showcase your work and connect with potential clients.
Stay Updated And Evolve
You must keep abreast of technological advancements, regulation changes, and industry trends. It is highly significant to continuously learn and evolve your skills to remain competitive.
Consider Insurance and Business Setup
Lastly, to become a professional drone operator, you should consider obtaining liability insurance for your drone operations, especially if you offer commercial services. You should set up your business structure if you plan to operate as a freelance drone operator.
In conclusion, becoming a certified drone operator requires dedication, training, and a deep understanding of aviation regulations and safety protocols. As the demand for drone technology continues to grow across industries, becoming a skilled drone operator involves mastering flight techniques, obtaining necessary certifications, staying updated on regulations, and honing one’s skills to navigate the skies with precision and expertise.