Now is a great time to be a commercial drone pilot.
Demand for drone pilots is spiking as more and more companies realize the benefits of aerial intelligence, with savings and safety at the top of the list.
Signaling a move upward, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts the demand for commercial UAV pilots will quadruple by 2020, with more than 300,000 new pilots needed to meet future demand.
[Looking for work? Jump down to the section on PrecisionHawk’s open positions here.]
The growth in drone jobs has been spurred by an expanding range of commercial use cases.
Facility managers are using drones to boost data collection efficiency by 20X, crop insurers can now inspect 200 acres in just 20 minutes with drones, and utility companies are drastically reducing workplace injuries by replacing dangerous human tasks with drones.
Here are some of the industries being transformed by drones—industries in which drone jobs are on the rise:
[Want to learn more about how people are finding work in the drone industry? Check out our in-depth guide to drone jobs, with information on all the sectors listed above, advice on launching your own drone business, and a list of open positions.]
Drones have become so effective that nearly $130 billion in business services and labor is expected to be replaced by drones in the near future, according to a PwC global report on the commercial application of drone technology.
But increased safety and efficiency is only half of what’s driving drone adoption across so many different industries.
Advancements in drone-based data capture and analysis have made it possible to convert raw data into actionable insights, and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are being applied to data collected by drones, enabling organizations to automate processes and create entirely new business models.
The ability for enterprises to gain insight from drone-based aerial data is driving tremendous business value and sparking unprecedented interest in drone-based services.
– Ed Hine, VP of Energy Operations at PrecisionHawk
Obstacles for Commercial Drone Pilots
Today, more than 100,000 people hold a Part 107 certificate, authorizing them to fly drones for commercial purposes in the U.S.
Some of these pilots serve as flight staff at organizations, and others have joined a drone services business or started their own company.
But in recent years, the growing army of “dronepreneurs” and low barriers to entry have flooded the drone services market with independent pilots, causing lower-end drone services prices to plummet by 90% amid skyrocketing competition.
To deal with this fact, many small operators are seeking high-paying enterprise clients—but the largest opportunities are coming from Fortune 100 companies, which don’t usually hire independent providers directly because of scaling limitations, regulatory complexity, and liability concerns.
Furthermore, acquiring and servicing enterprise customers requires commercial-grade hardware and software, and significant investments in marketing, sales, and paperwork related to submitting and processing proposals—time many independent providers would prefer to spend flying and earning.
[Need help preparing for the FAA’s Part 107 test? We’ve trained over 15,000 drone pilots and over 99% of our students pass on the first try—learn more about how we can help you pass at DronePilotGroundSchool.com.]
Enter Drone Service Providers
The obstacles mentioned above seem to paint a grim picture for commercial drone pilots looking to enter the market.
But fear not—the need for commercial drone pilots is real, and there are still lots of drone jobs out there.
Where are these jobs?
One place to look is with drone service providers, like PrecisionHawk, who oversee a fleet of drone pilots, providing enterprise-level drone services for large corporations. Some drone pilots maintain their own businesses and use drone service provider work as supplemental income, while others work full-time for service providers.
The reason companies are turning to drone service providers is because many of the large organizations that rely on drones for day-to-day operations struggle to develop and scale internal drone programs, and have found service providers to be the best solution.
Reasons for this struggle are many, and include strict regulations that limit flight to within visual line of sight of the operator, and low availability of drone pilots who are qualified to follow the rigorous standard operating procedures and safety management systems required in large organizations.
In-house drone programs are also hard to create because they’re expensive to build and scale, and the regulatory risks associated with insourcing such a program can be intimidating to some companies.
For all these reasons, drone service providers have become a welcome conduit, connecting commercial drone pilots with companies looking for drone services.
PrecisionHawk Is Hiring
Although PrecisionHawk is often in the news for their impressive work on the research and technology side of the drone industry, they’re also the largest source of commercial drone operators in the world.
PrecisionHawk has over 150 full-time operators on their team, with more than 15,000 licensed commercial pilots available via their Drone Pilot Network. Within 24 hours, businesses using the network can deploy a pilot to conduct drone-based data capture and analysis anywhere in the United States.
At PrecisionHawk, we know it takes a village to accomplish the complicated missions we fly on behalf of our clients. We’re growing quickly, but thoughtfully. Our focus is on building a diverse community of professionals who believe in the power of drones to do good and are ready to take bold action to make it happen.
– Erin Miller, VP of Human Resources
How to Apply to Work at PrecisionHawk
PrecisionHawk is currently seeking drone operators to join their growing full-time and project-based flight teams.
Available jobs span locations, industries, and experience levels, and pilots receive specialized training, operational assistance, cutting-edge hardware and software, and portfolio-building experience in a variety of applications including inspections, monitoring, and emergency response.
To see open positions, visit https://www.precisionhawk.com/careers
Note: Although the jobs included on the link above are few in number, PrecisionHawk tells us that there are in fact multiple pilots being hired for each role listed. If you’re currently seeking employment, you’re encouraged to apply for any position for which you are qualified.