How to become a Professional Drone Pilot in 5 steps

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

One of our primary missions at Hovrtek is to help businesses find ways to increase profit and save time by using drone technology as part of their workflow. Whether that means providing training or consulting or sending on-demand drone pilots it is of the utmost importance to work with professionals that are not only FAA licensed, but actually know what they are doing. So without further ado here are the 5 steps you will need to take to become a professional drone pilot.

Learn how to fly with a quadcopter

The first thing you need to come to terms with is that you are going to crash at least a couple times when learning how to fly. Why crash a $1000 and upwards machine when you can learn to fly on a toy drone that costs under $50. I recommended picking up something like this quadcopter and getting the feel of flight down before investing in a more expensive professional level drone.

Get your FAA part 107 License

If you want to get professional jobs as a drone pilot, than you should have your FAA Part 107 license. When flying without a license you put yourself and your employer at risk of getting expensive fines and worse.    Your Part 107 license will allow you to fly small UAS under 55 pounds for commercial purposes.To get your license you will need to pass a two hour multiple choice test at an approved testing facility.  The cost is $150.

You will need to have a strong understanding of airspace safety information such as basic flight operations, regulations, weather, and airspace classification.  A good resource to check out is Drone Pilot Ground School,  which is an online test prep course for drone pilots looking to pass the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test for a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate.   

Train to be a safe and responsible pilot

One of the first things we ask of our pilots is to become familiar with the official Hovrtek Flight Operations Manual, which covers protocol for topics such as safety, privacy, training, general operations,mission planning and more. If you plan on flying independently, and/or creating an in-house drone operations department, I definitely recommend creating your own manual and devoting a considerable amount of time to training to the point that flying and safety become second nature.

Getting your license is not the end all be all of being a professional pilot.  Now you need to put in the time and work to fly responsibly and safely.  There is no shortcut when it comes to  practice and receiving professional hands-on training and instruction.

Learn to be efficient in obtaining deliverables

When becoming a drone pilot, I would suggest that you specialize in serving one specific industry.  For example, you can become the go-to pilot for aerial cinematography services for media such as television and movies.  Or, how about specializing in thermal camera roof scans to detect water leaks?

Whatever field you choose to specialize in, it's important to understand how to most efficiently obtain the data that will meet your client's demands.  It takes time, practice, and oftentimes professional training to capture actionable data and imagery that it beneficial to your clients.

Get Good Insurance

No one likes to dwell on bad things happening, but when you operate flying machines in public places for your job it's important to have the proper type of insurance coverage for when things don't go as planned. The two major types of things that can go wrong are:

  1. Your drone sustains damage and needs to be repaired or replaced.
  2. Your actions as Pilot in Command cause damage to individuals and/or property that is outside of yourself.

Hull insurance covers your business from damage and destruction of your drone, while liability insurance covers any damage caused by to people and property in the vicinity of where you are operating your drone.  You can keep costs of insurance on the lower end of the spectrum by having documented professional training and a thorough Flight Operations Manual.

Use the steps outlined above as a launching point for your drone endeavors, and do not hesitate to reach out to us for additional tips and advice.