A Drone Pilot is responsible for operating a drone, which is sometimes called an unmanned aerial system (UAS). Drones are operated remotely, which is why Drone Pilots are also known as Remote Pilots. A Drone Pilot controls a drone, causing it to take off, stay on course, and land safely. Also, Drone Pilots conduct safety tests, oversee vehicle performance, and assess drone systems’ capabilities. They may also operate cameras or other equipment the drone carries.
Typical Duties and Responsibilities
- Check drones before a flight to ensure safe and proper operation
- Analyze weather forecasts to ensure safe flights
- Document pre- and post-flight logs
- Monitor drones during flight
- Plan drone flight routes
- Navigate drones along designated paths
- Gather information or produce aerial photographs, as needed
- Perform equipment testing, troubleshooting, and maintenance
Education and Background
This position requires an associate degree and a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. Some employers prefer that job candidates have bachelor’s degrees.
Skills and Competencies
- Strong communication skills
- Robust problem-solving abilities
- Excellent electronic and mechanical skills
- Expertise in multitasking
- Keen attention to detail
According to Payscale the median annual salary of a Drone Pilot with
1 Year of Experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $40,000
- Tampa, Florida: $43,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $45,000
- Miami, Florida: $49,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $50,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $56,000
- Houston, Texas: $55,000
- Los Angeles, California: $63,000
- New York City, New York: $60,000
- Seattle, Washington: $50,000
- Overall: $50,000
5 Years of Experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $48,000
- Tampa, Florida: $51,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $53,000
- Miami, Florida: $57,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $58,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $64,000
- Houston, Texas: $63,000
- Los Angeles, California: $71,000
- New York City, New York: $68,000
- Seattle, Washington: $58,000
- Overall: $58,000
Similar Job Titles
- Remote Pilot In Command
- Remote Pilot Operator
- Drone Operator
- Remote Pilot
- Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator
- UAV Operator
The path to becoming a Drone Pilot begins with an associate degree and a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. Some employers prefer that job candidates have a bachelor’s degree. After Drone Pilots gain experience, they can advance to working commercially, filming for movies and television, or building a career in videography or photography.
According to Forbes, one trend that will affect the drone industry is the advancement of imaging sensors, software, and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. This evolution gives drones image recognition and allows them to be more lightweight. Another upcoming trend is the increase in regulation. The FAA may implement a requirement for remote identification of all drones flying in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of electro-mechanical technicians should show little or no change from 2018 to 2028.
The typical work hours for a Drone Pilot are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, some Drone Pilots may work non-traditional hours, depending on the needs of their employer.
Where You Can Find Jobs
- 4 Corner Resources
- Career Builder
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