With the growing demand for aerial photography, surveying, and aerial inspections, the demand for professional drone pilots has skyrocketed. It’s taken a while for some industries to recognise the potential for using drone technology, but demand may soon outstrip the capacity of qualified drone operators in the UK. Whether you're interested in working with a construction company, a surveying firm, or a film production house, there are plenty of opportunities out there for licensed drone pilots. In this blog, we will discuss the steps you can take to become a professional drone pilot and find work in the industry.
Learn the Regulations
The early years of the drone industry were a bit of a ‘Wild West.’ Very few people understood the regulations and there was next to no enforcement. Fortunately, this has improved and there have been prosecutions of rogue drone operators. Safety is critical when it comes to flying unmanned aerial vehicles, and you must understand the applicable laws and be able to operate without putting other people or property in danger. Before you can operate a drone commercially in the UK, you must obtain the relevant permissions via the CAA. This isn’t difficult or expensive, but it proves to a business looking to hire you that you understand the law and treat drone flying as a profession.
Get a Drone
The drone and accessories that are best for your business will depend on the type of work you’re thinking of taking on. For aerial photography for estate agents and building firms, a fairly basic model such as a DJI Mini 3 should suffice. If you’re targeting high-end surveying and inspection work a commercial drone such as a DJI Matrice may be required. Different models have different uses, so you need to do some research before investing. New models arrive on the market all the time, so don’t make a quick decision and end up with an out-of-date drone.
This can be the scary part for some would-be professional drone operators. The safety features of modern machines are fantastic, and the risk of an accident is negligible if you follow the instructions and study how to use your drone. Take the time to read the manuals and understand the flight modes, control options and what to do in an emergency. Learn what warning lights mean and what you need to do if they are activated. Practice flying your drone in a safe and controlled environment well away from people and buildings. If you have space to fly you can build your confidence without fear of collision. Learn the basic controls and manoeuvres, and then move on to more complex flying techniques. Practice flying in different weather conditions and wind speeds to improve your skills.
Start Marketing your Business
As with any new enterprise, marketing is key to attracting work. This can take many forms depending on your own skills and experience and the type of work you’re targeting. A website is key for any modern business, and a presence on social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook helps to build your presence and reputation. Things may be slow at first, and persistence is key to becoming a successful drone professional. Think creatively and consider any potential avenues for getting the word out about the services you offer.
Networking with local businesses such as estate agents, surveyors and builders is a great way to open doors. If you have experience in an industry where there may be opportunities for work, such as insurance, it can be a real benefit. Attending local trade and networking groups is a great way to meet people face to face you may be able to do business with. Joining Drone Safe Register can give you access to enquiries from our national marketing campaigns, and also gives you access to a network of hundreds of like-minded operators.