The rapid advancement of drone technology is creating new industry applications at an unprecedented rate. Once exclusive to aerial photography, drone systems are now capable of much more. Inspections, data gathering and 3D modeling all fall close to that initial use case. However, bleeding edge companies are leveraging drone technology towards package delivery, surveillance and even rapid emergency and medical response. The only complete commonality between these applications is the necessity of a trained and certified commercial drone pilot. The FAA opened the floodgates last year, creating the drone pilot certificate to replace the need for a full pilot’s license. Yet, there is still a bottleneck as demand for pilots outstrips supply.
As a result, drone training courses are becoming absolutely critical. These tailor made classes teach new pilots how to pass the FAA’s written test – but also industry best practices and important skills that will help them succeed. Quality courses will ensure flight time at drone testing sites, teaching students in a real world location. These drone testing sites often feature varied terrain – forests, fields and even urban environments. Students can practice their piloting skills in a safe environment before they earn their certificate, which is an invaluable experience.
While jobs are plentiful in the UAV pilot space, it still helps to specialize. Specialized drone pilots are seen as experts in a new field, people who have dedicated the time and resources to explore something previously unknown. Understandably, they are compensated for these rare skill sets. Pilots that can provide high value in aerial photography, rapid medical delivery and the use of drones for 3D modeling purposes can expect a median pay higher than a general drone operator.
Yet, this should not discourage anyone from joining the field. Drone training courses can teach valuable skills and open up a world of career opportunities. Even those with no prior experience in drone operations or flight in general can learn the operational necessities. The FAA’s Part 107 test is only the beginning. There is a wealth of information available beyond what the FAA requires, and finding the appropriate drone course is the key to accelerating your career in as a commercial drone pilot.