The increase in demand for qualified drone pilots keeps rising, but there aren’t nearly enough to meet demand, and that presents wonderful opportunities for anyone wanting to launch a new, successful career.
We’ve all seen amazing videos but this one is hard to forget: sparkling turquoise waters giving way to beautiful white, sand, followed by some lush green palm leaves, and a bungalow with all the trimmings of an exotic Pacific paradise. Calming music and colourful fish in the lagoon combine with the aerial footage to create a sense of utter nirvana. Peace, relaxation, luxury. Just like the seductive vacation posters that goad us into overpaying for our next holiday because we’ve earnt the right to have something truly special.
Then the caption pops up. This idyllic 2-hectare island in Bora Bora could be yours for a cool $39 million. With the kind of advertising budget you’d expect on an island selling in the tens of millions, you can expect they’d be able to afford a plane or helicopter to provide the necessary aerial shots, without even blinking at the hiring fees.
But this wasn’t shot in 1990, when such an exercise would easily rack up tens of thousands of dollars. It was done with an unmanned aerial vehicle, or, more commonly, a drone, run by an operator conveniently nestled among the palms and ready to enjoy a pampered overnight stay as part of the deal for supplying the perfect aerial footage.
Footage that just a few years ago would have been incredibly expensive to develop is now so reasonably priced that it’s no longer the reserve of high-priced private islands in the most exclusive corners of the world, but now come standard with any sensible property marketing campaign in most Australian suburbs.
The footage may be dramatically different (and the music generally as well), but the principles are the same: present the property to its best advantage (to secure the best possible price, though, that’s for the agent to negotiate), and that will almost certainly mean using an ‘eye in the sky’ to create a similar sense of grandeur or wonder at the property on display.
Given that, it’s a near certainty that just about every real estate office in Australia will soon have a regularly contracted drone pilot on speed dial.
No wonder then that the number of drone operators has been steadily increasing over the last several years. And yet there is still enormous potential for using drones for other uses that we’re only just beginning to realise.
This article explores some of the potential areas where drone piloting can create a career that mixes work and play in the best possible way.
Potential Drone Pilot Career #1: Security
Already popular in the US, security drones are starting to gain traction in Australia, especially around high-security installations. However, we think it’s just a matter of time until they begin to patrol the suburbs as part of local law enforcement’s crime-busting efforts. Most likely, they will be used in a reactive sense – scanning traffic from altitude for a car reported stolen, rather than actively patrolling the streets to monitor what people are doing in their front lawns.
And around large buildings, shopping centres, etc., it’s likely they can be used to patrol the carpark and reduce petty crime. And if you happen to stumble upon someone being accosted or mugged, well, pursuing the suspect via your drone is probably more fun than playing Grand Theft Auto!
While it hasn’t become part of the mainstream yet, experienced drone pilots will most likely have the early foot in the door in securing what can be rather lucrative contracts work.
Potential Drone Pilot Career #2: Wedding Photography
First there was the wedding photographer, and then they added a wedding videographer. The next step in the natural process is to add a wedding aerial videographer to capture new perspectives on couples’ wedding days. Sweeping shots of wedding car pulling up to the church, the guests outside after the service, panoramic views of the vineyard or other reception venue all add to the wonderful memories, now captured in video, of that ‘special day’.
It’s also a lucrative avenue, for when it comes to weddings, there’s usually little expense spared. Why compromise a few hundred (or thousand) on the most precious memories of your life? With that in mind, there’s plenty a business opportunity for drone pilots so long as they have a reputation for perfection, to enjoy a career that’s rewarding both emotionally and financially.
Potential Drone Pilot Career #3: Surveying
The Moreton Bay Rail link was a major infrastructure project for the region, and surveying is essential to the process. Without knowing the land contours and specifications, it’s impossible to determine what earthworks are needed to fashion the dirt into the right shape and density.
Traditionally, that could have required dozens of surveyors to evaluate, but one experienced drone pilot and a properly spec’d done was enough to map the entire area. Massive cost saving for the council, and a great (and highly lucrative) afternoon for the drone pilot.
The great thing is, drone flight patterns are programmable, so the drone did most of the work on autopilot.
Whether you’re ready to become a fully-qualified drone pilot right now or not, some things are certain. Drones piloting is in demand, pays very well, and we’re only just scratching the surface of their potential applications.
As more demand keeps opening up, the most experienced, best-qualified pilots will be sitting pretty to take advantage of new opportunities and have a load of fun while doing so.
The UAV Training Australia Team