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How Much Do Drone Pilots Make? [What You Need To Know]

How Much Do Drone Pilots Make? [What You Need To Know]

Being a licensed commercial drone operator sounds like a fascinating idea. It is highly enticing to be a professional drone pilot and earn a job doing what you love. But in the current economic climate, is it possible to earn enough as a pilot of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to live comfortably?

Drone pilots make an average annual salary of about $80,000. However, the salary for drone pilots can vary based on the company, position, and the pilot's skill set. Government and military jobs pay between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. Pilots who work for themselves have enormous income potential.

You can anticipate making competitive pay as a drone pilot. Your earnings will vary depending on several factors, including your level of expertise, the field you work in, and whether you are employed as a full-time worker or as a freelancer.

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How Much Do Drone Pilots Make?

One of the most common questions that prospective drone pilots have is, "Who employs drone operators?" For most people who wish to use drones for business or work purposes, the answer is simple. Drone pilots are more in demand in some businesses than others.

Commercial flying services are highly sought after in the construction and agricultural industries, while UAV pilots are actively utilized in the film and television industries for photography and filming.

Many UAV pilots opt to operate as independent contractors, providing their skills on a contract basis to various businesses or clients. Some people choose to work a full-time job, either as an employee of a company that flies drones or one that is big enough to hire drone pilots.

Instead of asking if drone pilots can make decent money, the issue should be whether they can. Drone pilots make, on average, $42,000 to $58,000 per year. However, some drone business owners earn six figures from their services. Some of them are even approaching $500k, according to surveys.

A drone pilot makes an average salary of $79K, according to Glassdoor. However, it is a bit overstated since manned pilots are taken into account in the computations. Three actual results for the "UAS Pilot" were shown. Pay for base personnel is reportedly in the range of $62K to $70K.

Most job postings for "UAV Operators" pay between $33,000 and $40,000 annually. Although there are many variables at play, it might be difficult to answer the question of how much money freelance drone pilots make. Nevertheless, we will discuss some statistics that, in my opinion, can help.

Independent drone pilots who fly drones for businesses make an average of $150 per hour. In some fields, including filmmaking and quality control, some people earn well over $450 per hour. The answer, in a nutshell, is that. However, the situation is more complex than that.

While it is possible to operate drones as a freelancer and earn well over $100k doing so, it is not the complete story. This is despite what most drone instructors would tell you. Pilots who fly drones for that type of money are typically experts in their field with a particular set of talents.

To maintain their profitability, the majority of profitable drone enterprises, according to Dronedeploy, start with a per-hour rate and then fluctuate it according to circumstances.

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How Much Do Commercial Drone Pilots Make?

Commercial drone pilots operate drones for businesses in a variety of industries with a variety of objectives. Drones are used by certain businesses to shoot aerial pictures and films for marketing, while other businesses employ them for aerial surveillance. Commercial drone operators fulfill various drone requirements for various enterprises.

According to our investigation, the majority of businesses employ freelance drone pilots. Many businesses hire workers to fly drones on a project-by-project basis rather than hiring drone pilots full-time. This may necessitate extensive travel to job sites.

The pay for drone pilots differs, especially considering that many of them are independent contractors; it is also dependent on the project and the industry's hourly wage. Glassdoor estimates that drone pilots will make $70,000 per year in 2022. However, according to a DroneU poll, rates for the top-paid workers can range from $800 to $1,200 for one day of labor.

Although it is difficult to predict exactly the amount that a drone pilot would make, there is the possibility of earning several hundred thousand dollars annually. Naturally, taking on a large number of assignments is necessary to achieve that goal. Getting a drone license is the first step in learning to fly a drone.

If you sell drone images without a permit, the FAA may fine you $1,100. Anyone who uses a drone for a commercial, non-recreational, or official purpose must have a specific license, according to government regulations. The name of this license comes from the regulation that governs it.

The next thing you need is expert drone insurance. Do not assume that this is covered by your personal, professional, or residential insurance. The majority of contemporary policies do not address drones. Instead, purchase professional drone insurance from a business like AIG or Avion that provides adequate protection in case of an accident.

You will also require the drone itself. When you film a video for a customer, they will expect it to seem polished, with clear, brilliant colors and precise details. The DJI Inspire 2 is a bigger, more versatile drone that would be better paired with a camera such as the Zenmuse X5S.

How Much Do Drone Pilots Make In The Air Force?

Although every department of the military uses drones to some extent, the U.S. Air Force has the majority of drone pilots. According to the job description and rank requirements for Air Force drone operators, you must be at least a Second Lieutenant to be eligible for the post.

An O-1 Second Lieutenant makes, on average, approximately $41,728 to $52,506 per year. The pay you receive as a drone operator will differ based on a variety of variables, but these are mostly influenced by how long you have been on the job and what rank you now have.

In the USAF, Second Lieutenants are the qualifying rank for this post, but Majors can also fly drones. An O-2 First Lieutenant's annual UAV pilot compensation can range from $48,078 to $66,532, whereas an O-3 Captain's annual UAV pilot income often falls between $55,638 and $90,522.

With prior experience and a superior rank, an O-4 Major's drone pilot income might range from $63,284 to $105,664 per year on average. The U.S. military has a basic salary range that is directly correlated to rank. Each person contributes significantly to the success of operations, and the homogeneity of the pay among the troops reflects this.

The USAF anticipates a continued need for drone pilot positions. The Air Force drone pilot's income might become a six-figure profession if you persevere with it and advance through the ranks, all while serving your nation.

The Air Force Reserve, or USAF, has several strict requirements for drone pilots. It is critical to understand the requirements for the position if you want to command an RQ-4 Global Hawk, an MQ-9 Reaper, or any other form of UAV.

Although your drone pilot compensation is a factor, you get much more from your job than just a paycheck. Among the most inventive ways to assist America in defending itself and its friends from attackers is by using drones.

Final Thoughts

Some industry sources claim that working as a drone pilot could be extremely lucrative. With only a little industry experience and superior technical abilities, you can frequently make six-figure wages. However, there are a variety of variables that can affect a drone pilot's ability to make a living. Despite these difficulties, if you possess the necessary abilities, being a drone operator is still worthwhile.