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Agriculture

Drone pilot Green Job

Drone pilots remotely operate aircraft used in work like surveying, filmmaking and aerial photography.

Annual Salary

variable

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 variable

You could work: freelance / self-employed; as customers demand

0.5%
Future employment

There will be 0.5% more Drone pilot jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a commercial drone pilot, you'll:

  • plan flight paths
  • test flight equipment
  • create maps and charts based on flight data
  • carry out aerial surveys of land use and features
  • take photographs and produce aerial film footage

Working environment

You could work on a film set, on a construction site, in the countryside or in a control room.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and you may spend nights away from home.

You can get into this job through:

  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations
Direct application

You can apply for jobs directly. Most employers will expect you to have a minimum of 40 hours of recorded drone flying experience.

If you are in the armed forces or the police, you may be able to train as an aerial vehicle pilot to operate drones for military or security purposes.

Other routes

You'll normally need a flyer ID, operator ID and insurance to fly drones for commercial purposes.

To get these, you would complete training with a Recognised Assessment Entity (RAE) approved by the Civil Aviation Authority. Training, including flight skills, can last between 2 and 4 days and covers:

  • UK air regulations
  • flight safety
  • flight planning
  • theory test and practical flight skills assessment

You'll also have to write an operations manual describing how you are going to use your drone commercially.

After successfully completing training, you can apply for operational authorisation for the type of drone you are flying.

You must renew this every 12 months.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Further information

You can get more advice about working and training as a drone pilot from:Civil Aviation Authority; National Air Traffic Services

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As your experience grows, you may wish to complete a qualification like the Level 3 Certificate and Level 4 Diploma in the Remote Piloting of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Opportunities for skilled drone pilots exist in:filmmaking, TV and marketing; weather forecasting; mapping land use for farming or archaeological work; inspecting infrastructure like bridges and tall buildings; surveying air accident sites as part of investigations; training people to become drone pilots

If you have engineering qualifications, you could move into drone design and development work.

The demand for drone operators is growing fast. Amazon have drones working in their warehouses and are hoping to launch unmanned deliveries to homes soon. Drone operating skills could be a useful qualification to get in the future as it will be useful in many job sectors from computer games to conservation.

You can get more advice about working and training as a drone pilot from Dronesafe and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • concentration skills
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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