To get paid for operating a drone commercially and in congested areas you first need to obtain permission for commercial operations from the Civil Aviation Authority. You can find out how to become a drone pilot by clicking here.
Once you have your permission for commercial operations it’s time to Practice, practice and do some more practising as without the right skills you will not see the jobs coming in through the door. In order to become a professional drone pilot you need many hours of practice which will enable you to focus on the job in hand.
To effectively operate commercially you should look into purchasing some decent kit. Drone kits typically range from £1000 to £20,000 and on top of the drone you will need additional batteries and other accessories as you can’t attend a job with just 15-20 mins of flight time.
So how much could I get paid?
The UK drone industry is going to grow! There is good money to be made by piloting drones but you need to consider the realities of daily rates before jumping into the industry. Depending upon skill level and drone equipment daily rates range from £350 - £1000 for a pilot.
How much should I expect to pay for drone pilot hire?
As above from £350 - £1000 per day. To fly safely that pilot may also need to hire in staff, equipment and purchase materials for safety barriers so factor this in too. There are a few other factors that may cause costs to vary:
Land owners permission for take off and landing or flying in a specific area may come at a cost.
Controlling the take off and landing areas may mean cordoning off an area if it is not already secure. This could increase costs.
Do you need an Inspire 2 capturing 6k raw footage, an Arri Alexa/RED or perhaps a DJI Spark or Mavic? The equipment being flown in the air does as you might expect vary the cost.
If you just want an aerial photograph or perhaps a short film clip the pilot may not need to charge a day rate.
Travel - most drone pilots like most businesses charge travel at 45p per mile.
Rights to the footage, who will own it and where can it be used? Most drone pilots set this out in their T&C’s, you can read ours by clicking here. If you want to have sole rights to the footage expect additional costs.
How to market your piloting skills
A good business plan helps. Compile a video of your aerial footage to form a showreel that you can showcase to prospects, target specific markets based on your experience, knowledge and skillset, network, meet other pilots and media companies and never give up. Teaming up with other media companies and drone pilots can not only help you develop your own skills but increase the likely hood of them using you again. White label jobs come up often in the drone industry.
Remember it’s not just about aerial filming and ensure you capture a catalogue of photographs to showcase your skills not only as a pilot but as an artist capturing unique photographs.
It’s not easy out there and the drone market is fast becoming saturated. We strongly recommend making connections with other drone pilots. Collaboration is super important. Get our there and enjoy yourself safely and if you have any questions please do get in touch.