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What is a Drone Pilot?

What is a Drone Pilot?

What is a Drone Pilot? A Drone Pilot is a person responsible for operating a drone. A drone is also referred to as an unmanned aerial system (UAS). Drone Pilots are also referred to as Remote Pilots as the operate a drone remotely. A Drone Pilot is responsible for controlling a drone. Drone operations include, take off, staying on course and landing safely. In addition, Drone Pilots are responsible for conducting safety tests, overseeing vehicle performance, and assessing the drone systems’ capabilities. A Drone Pilot may also need to operate cameras or other equipment that the drone carries.

Drone Pilots can now earn as much as some commercial airline pilots.

Drone Pilots Alternative Names

  • Remote Pilot
  • Drone Operator 
  • UAV Operator 
  • Remote Pilot In-Command
  • Remote Pilot Operator  
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator 

Drone Pilots Typical Responsibilities

  • Analyse the weather forecasts to ensure the drone can fly safely
  • Complete pre and post-flight logs
  • Monitor drones during flight for safe working operation
  • Plan drone flight routes based on the specific contract
  • Ensure drones are navigated along designated paths or within the boundaries specified to the relevant countries Aviation Authority
  • Check drones before all flights to ensure they are in a safe and suitable condition prior to operation
  • Collate and present the information gathered or produce aerial photographs and videos as required by your client.
  • Perform maintenance equipment testing and troubleshooting

Successful Drone Pilot Attributes

Should you want to become a drone pilot, much like any other job you will still, ideally, require the required skills to be a success.

Typical skills which are advantageous are:

  • Great communication skills – you will need to visit customer sites, engage with them and present your self in a professional and courteous manner.
  • Great problem solving skills – Each project you undertake will unlikely eve be the same and some may be more complex than others. As a competent drone pilot it will be your task to evaluate and assess the task at hand and present and undertake a solution to the problem.
  • Great electronic and mechanical skills – If you are working one your own within your business then this element is key, as you will need to be able to maintenance all electronics and mechanical elements of the drone. If you are working within a large business which has an engineer / technical department then this may not be as critical but still it is worth having some good knowledge.
  • Great at multitasking – There are a number of elements to preparing for a successful drone flight, on top of the flight itself so being able to multitask is essential
  • A great level of attention to detail – The devils in the detail. To become successful, having a great attention to details is vital as it will help you meet and exceed your clients requirements.

Where can Drone Pilots be employed?

This isn’t a simple query, drone applications are increasing at a rapid pace. With the pandemic that we have all been through, the idea of remote not contact operations has been thrown to the forefront of everyones minds and as such industries are now looking at how they can accomplish daily tasks in a more efficient and safer way.

As a drone pilot you can expect to find employment, either in employed status or by way of contracting in the following areas depending on your experience:


Police officers have become drone pilots themselves and use drones to give them a bird’s eye view of crime scenes, to track suspects and find missing persons.

Deliveries to remote locations

Drones are starting to be used by some delivery companies to help them to reach remote locations


Farmers are using drones to help them to monitor their crops, including growth and damage and if you watched Clarkson’s farm, they can even used to herd sheep!. It is worth noting that the legalities of flying on farm land, especially in Australia can vary, so always check your countries own regulations.


This will come as no surprise if you have ever watched the news and seen the drones used for surveliience purposes.

Traffic management

Local government organisations are using drones to view of traffic problems

Film and TV Coverage

Typically only reserved for helicopters which are very expensive, drones have largely taken over as they can get a fantastic view of a sporting event or breaking news story

Oil & Gas

Drone pilots have become an integral feature of the oil & Gas industry for collecting high-quality visual data, used primarily for health & Safety and maintenance.


Insurance companies are always looking for a great visual representation of outdoor incidents and this can be provided by a drone.


Mining companies are using drones to create comprehensive maps of their tunnel networks as well as providing great visual data to help locate valuable resources.

Power Generation

Previously helicopters were always used for powerline inspections but now drones can be used which are quicker, safer and more efficient.

Drone Pilot licencing

Drone pilots are required to pass exams and flight tests in order to be issued with a licence or certification. (some countries do not refer to them as licences, such as the CAA in the UK)

For more details on licencing please refer to these links:

  • UK
  • EU
  • Canada
  • USA
  • Australia

Drone Pilot Salary

If you are looking for a career change or are already a drone pilot, you maybe wondering how much money you can earn.

Earnings depend on whether or not you are running your own business as a freelancer, employed by a drone business or a business that now has a requirement for a drone pilot. It also depends on your overall experience of flying drones and in what capacity, i.e. hobby, professional, military etc..

These salaries are a guide only:

  • UK: £30,000, rising up to £60,000 with experience
  • EU: €40,000, rising up to €80,000 with experience
  • USA: $40,000.00 to $60,000, rising up to $60,000 to $80,000 with experience
  • Canada: $50,000, rising up to $110,000 with experience
  • Australia: $60,000, rising up to $80,000 with experience