The Ultimate Guide to Drone Jobs: Opportunities, Earnings, and More

The drone industry has witnessed a meteoric rise in the last decade, revolutionizing numerous sectors and creating a plethora of job opportunities. From capturing breathtaking aerial shots for real estate listings to assisting in critical search and rescue missions, drones have become indispensable.

Last Updated: 12:07, 7 November 2023
author icon Written By: Benjamin Wilson

The demand for skilled drone pilots and other drone-related professions has surged, especially with the introduction of the FAA's Part 107 regulations. If you're considering a career in drones, it's essential to understand the licensing requirements. Here's everything you need to know about obtaining a Drone license.

These regulations have paved the way for commercial drone operations, further emphasizing the significance and potential of this booming industry.

![A drone flies over a white van labeled 'Drone Jobs', beside a person in a reflective vest and hard hat giving a thumbs up](https://prod-files-secure.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/0bef3175-6ebe-412c-a228-b534a00b9bb5/5ca4ee13-b35e-4555-b628-3d3f0e52d8c5/Drone_jobs.webp) A drone flies over a white van labeled 'Drone Jobs', beside a person in a reflective vest and hard hat giving a thumbs up
Drone jobs

What does a drone pilot do on the job?

At the heart of this industry are the drone pilots, the individuals who navigate these advanced machines with precision and skill. But what exactly does a drone pilot do?

    • General Drone Job Description:

A drone pilot is responsible for operating and maintaining Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Their tasks can vary based on the industry they serve. For instance, in real estate, they capture aerial footage of properties, while in agriculture, they might monitor crop health.

    • On the Job:

A typical day might involve pre-flight checks, ensuring the drone's software is updated, planning flight paths, executing the flight, capturing data or footage, and post-flight maintenance. If you're new to piloting and want to learn the basics, our guide on How to fly a drone is a great starting point.

    • Safety First:

Adhering to safety protocols and regulations, especially those set by the FAA, is paramount. This includes ensuring the drone doesn't fly in restricted zones and always maintaining a line of sight.

Types of Drone Jobs

Real Estate

Drones have truly transformed the real estate industry. Gone are the days of simple ground-level photos; now, potential buyers can experience properties from a bird's-eye view. This aerial perspective offers a comprehensive look at properties, showcasing their size, layout, and the surrounding environment.

a house with a pool and trees seen from above on a summer day

    • Drone Work in Real Estate:

Drone pilots in this sector capture high-resolution photos and videos of properties. This not only includes homes but also large estates, commercial properties, and land plots. These visuals are then used in listings, virtual tours, and promotional materials.

    • Salaries:

On average, a drone pilot specializing in real estate can earn anywhere from $50 to $500 per shoot, depending on the property's size and location. Some top-tier pilots even command over $1,000 for luxury property shoots.

    • Popular Drones for Real Estate:

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, and the Autel Evo Lite+ are among the favorites for real estate photography, known for their camera quality and stability. If you're looking to explore more options, check out our guide on the Best drones with Camera.


In the construction, mining, and aggregates sectors, drones play a pivotal role in improving efficiency and safety. They provide invaluable data for site surveys, mapping, and safety checks.

    • Drone Work in this Industry:

Pilots conduct site surveys, create 3D models of construction sites, and monitor the progress of ongoing projects. In mining, drones help in calculating volumes, monitoring safety, and planning extraction processes.

    • Salaries:

Drone pilots in this sector can earn between $50 to $300 per hour, depending on the complexity of the task and the data processing involved.

    • Popular Drones:

The DJI Matrice 300 RTK, Parrot Anafi USA, and the senseFly eBee X are commonly used for their advanced mapping and data collection capabilities.


Film crew at a nighttime harbor setting, featuring a monitor, a boom operator, and a large LED panel.
Film crew at a nighttime harbor

Ah, the magic of cinema! Drones have ushered in a new era of filmmaking, allowing directors and cinematographers to capture shots that were once deemed impossible or too costly. Remember those sweeping aerial shots in movies that left you in awe? Many of those are now achieved using drones, making cinematic storytelling even more compelling.

    • Drone Work in Filmmaking:

Drone pilots in this industry collaborate closely with directors to bring their vision to life. They're responsible for capturing both wide-angle aerial shots and intricate sequences that require precision flying. It's not just about flying; it's about understanding the narrative and adding value to the storyline.

    • Salaries:

The earnings in this sector can vary widely. While a beginner might earn around $250 for a day's shoot, experienced pilots working on big-budget films can command daily rates upwards of $2,000.

    • Popular Drones in Filmmaking:

The DJI Inspire 2, with its cinematic camera options, is a favorite in the industry. The Freefly Alta 8 and the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro are popular professional choices for their stability and camera capabilities. For those keen on exploring cinematic drones, our list of Best drones with Camera offers a comprehensive overview.

Public Safety

Police guiding a large crowd away from a concert venue to practice safe crowd control and prevent accidents

In the realm of public safety, drones are proving to be invaluable allies. Whether it's assisting first responders in locating individuals in disaster-stricken areas or helping law enforcement agencies in surveillance operations, drones are enhancing the capabilities of public safety agencies.

    • Drone Work in Public Safety:

Drone pilots in this sector often work under high-pressure situations. They might be tasked with using thermal imaging to locate missing persons or providing aerial visuals during emergency situations to guide response teams.

    • Salaries:

Given the critical nature of their work, drone pilots in public safety can earn between $50 to $150 per hour, with those having specialized training or equipment earning even more.

    • Popular Drones in Public Safety:

The DJI Matrice 210 RTK stands out for its dual-camera capabilities, including thermal imaging. The Parrot Anafi Thermal and the Autel EVO Lite+ are also widely used for their advanced imaging features.


A horseshoe-shaped stadium called Spotify Camp Nou in a sprawling city.

The world of journalism has always been about capturing the moment, telling stories, and bringing news to the forefront. With drones, journalists now have a powerful tool to provide a fresh perspective, especially in dynamic and rapidly evolving situations. Imagine capturing a bird's-eye view of a massive protest, a natural disaster's aftermath, or even a celebratory parade; drones offer an unparalleled vantage point.

    • Drone Work in Journalism:

Drone pilots in journalism are often on the move, capturing breaking news events from the skies. They provide aerial footage that complements ground-level reporting, offering a comprehensive view of events.

    • Salaries:

In journalism, drone pilots can expect to earn anywhere from $30 to $150 per hour, depending on the complexity of the assignment and the media outlet's size.

    • Popular Drones in Journalism:

The DJI Mavic Air 2, with its compact size and impressive camera capabilities, is a favorite for journalists on the go. The Skydio 2 and the DJI Mini 2 are also popular choices for their portability and ease of use.


A drone spraying pesticides over rice fields in an agricultural setting

The agriculture sector, often seen as traditional, has embraced drones with open arms. From monitoring vast fields to identifying potential pest infestations, drones are becoming a farmer's best friend. Precision agriculture, which focuses on optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources, heavily relies on drone technology.

    • Drone Work in Agriculture:

Drone pilots here focus on crop monitoring, soil analysis, and even pest control. They capture multispectral images that help farmers identify areas that need attention, be it irrigation, fertilization, or pest control.

    • Salaries:

Given the specialized nature of the work, drone pilots in agriculture can earn between $50 to $200 per hour, especially if they're skilled in data analysis.

    • Popular Drones in Agriculture:

The senseFly eBee SQ, known for its advanced sensors, is a top choice. The DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral and the Parrot Bluegrass are also widely used for their precision and data collection capabilities.


A hexacopter delivery drone carrying a package beneath it against a blue sky

The transportation industry is on the cusp of a revolution, and drones are at the forefront of this change. Imagine a world where your online shopping packages are delivered right to your doorstep by a drone or where medical supplies reach remote areas in record time. That future isn't too far off!

    • Drone Work in Transportation:

Drone pilots in this sector are primarily involved in delivery operations. They ensure that packages are securely attached, set the destination, and monitor the drone's flight to ensure safe and timely delivery.

    • Salaries:

As this is a relatively new field, salaries can vary. However, pilots can expect to earn between $40 to $150 per hour, depending on the complexity of the delivery and the region.

    • Popular Drones in Transportation:

The Wingcopter 178, known for its tilt-rotor mechanism, stands out in delivery operations. The DJI Matrice 600 and the Matternet M2 are also making waves in the drone delivery space.


A drone flying next to a person working on a transmission tower

The energy sector, encompassing oil, gas, solar, and wind energy, is harnessing the power of drones for inspections and maintenance. From inspecting vast solar farms to ensuring the structural integrity of wind turbines, drones are proving to be invaluable assets.

    • Drone Work in Energy:

Pilots in this sector conduct detailed inspections of infrastructure, such as power lines, wind turbines, and solar panels. They capture high-resolution images and videos, identifying potential issues or areas needing maintenance.

    • Salaries:

Given the critical nature of the infrastructure involved, drone pilots in the energy sector can earn between $50 to $300 per hour.

    • Popular Drones in Transportation:

The DJI Matrice 300 RTK, with its advanced sensors and long flight time, is a top choice. The senseFly eBee X and the Parrot Anafi Thermal are also preferred for their precision and imaging capabilities.


A telecommunications tower with several receivers and antennas attached to it

In the telecommunications industry, drones are playing a pivotal role in ensuring that our communication networks remain robust and efficient. Tower inspections, which were once risky and time-consuming, are now safer and more efficient, thanks to drones.

    • Drone Work in Telecommunications:

Pilots here focus on inspecting communication towers and checking for structural issues, rust, or equipment malfunctions. They provide detailed visuals, reducing the need for manual inspections.

    • Salaries:

Drone pilots in telecommunications can expect to earn between $50 to $200 per hour, given the industry's specialized nature.

    • Popular Drones in Telecommunications:

The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual, known for its thermal imaging capabilities, is widely used. The Yuneec H520 and the DJI Phantom 4 RTK are also popular choices for their stability and imaging features.


A drone inside a gyroscope for educational purposes

The educational sector is buzzing with excitement as drones take center stage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curricula. Schools, colleges, and training institutions are integrating drone technology into their programs, offering students hands-on experience and preparing them for a future where drones will be ubiquitous.

    • Drone Work in Education:

Drone pilots in this sector are often educators themselves, teaching students how to operate drones, understand their mechanics, and apply them in real-world scenarios. They also assist in research projects, field studies, and extracurricular activities.

    • Salaries:

In the educational sector, drone pilot salaries can range from $30 to $150 per hour, depending on the institution, location, and the pilot's expertise.

    • Popular Drones in Education:

The DJI Tello EDU is a favorite for its affordability and educational applications. The Robolink CoDrone Pro and the Parrot Mambo Fly are also widely used in educational settings for their ease of use and interactive features.

Building Your Own Drone Business

The drone industry's potential isn't just limited to jobs; there's a vast entrepreneurial landscape waiting to be explored. Whether you're thinking of starting a drone photography business, offering inspection services, or even developing drone software, the sky's the limit!


Identify a niche that aligns with your passion and expertise.
Invest in quality equipment and continuous learning.
Networking is key; join drone communities, attend workshops, and collaborate with industry experts.
Remember, marketing your services effectively and ensuring customer satisfaction will set you apart.

Getting video and photos up on Instagram and Youtube will come in handy when you start netwotking.

Where to Find Drone Jobs

The drone job market is vast, and opportunities are everywhere. From dedicated drone pilot networks, and online platforms like DroneBase and Upwork, to job listings at top companies in the drone industry like DJI and Parrot, there's something for everyone. Stay updated with industry news, attend drone expos, and be active in online forums to get a leg up in your job search.


The drone industry is booming, offering a plethora of opportunities across various sectors. From real estate and filmmaking to agriculture and public safety, drones are revolutionizing the way we work and live. Whether you're a seasoned pilot or a newbie, there's a place for you in this exciting industry. Dive in, explore, and find your niche!


How much can you get paid for drone work?
What is a possible career in drones?
How do I start a career in drones?
How do drone pilots get paid?
Do I need a license?
What industry is it the easiest to get a job in?

Meet the tester

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Benjamin Wilson
Benjamin, with a background in naval architecture, is passionate about RC boats. From sailboats to speedboats, he's sailed them all. Based in Florida, he's our anchor when it comes to all things aquatic in the RC world.
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