🤯 Entry-Level Drone Pilot Salaries [2024]: 10 Things You Need to Know!

Video: How Much Money Does a Professional Drone Pilot Make?

Ready to take flight in the exciting world of drone piloting? But before you launch your drone career, you’ll want to understand the realities of entry-level salaries. While we’ve all seen those incredible drone videos and envisioned ourselves soaring through the sky, the truth is, the starting pay for new pilots isn’t always what you expect. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t hop into a race car without a pit crew, right? Well, a successful drone piloting career needs a bit of preparation and strategy too.

This guide dives into everything you need to know about entry-level drone pilot salaries, from the factors that influence pay to specific industries and their income potential. We’ll also spill the beans on how to boost your earnings and stand out in the competitive world of drone piloting. By the end of this post, you’ll be equipped to make informed decisions about your drone career path.

Quick Answer

  • Entry-level drone pilot salaries in 2024 range from $25,000 to $50,000 per year, but can vary based on experience, location, and specialized skills.
  • Earning a Commercial Drone Pilot License (Part 107) is essential for legitimate commercial drone operations.
  • Building a strong portfolio and establishing a good reputation can make a big difference in your income as a freelancer or when pursuing full-time employment.
  • Consider specializing in a niche industry like agriculture, real estate, or inspection to command higher pay rates.


Table of Contents

  1. Quick Tips and Facts
  2. Entry-Level Drone Pilot Salary: A Look at the Numbers
  3. Factors Influencing Entry-Level Drone Pilot Salaries
  4. Top Drone Pilot Jobs and Their Salaries
  5. How to Become an Entry-Level Drone Pilot
  6. The Future of Drone Piloting: What to Expect
  7. Conclusion
  8. Recommended Links
  9. FAQ
  10. Reference Links

Quick Tips and Facts

  • Entry-level drone pilots can earn between $25,000 to $50,000 per year, depending on the location and nature of the job.
  • A Commercial Drone Pilot License (Part 107) is essential for earning a decent income as a drone pilot. Source: FAA.
  • Demand for drone pilots is rising rapidly, fueled by expanding industries like real estate photography, infrastructure inspection, and agricultural monitoring.
  • Consider acquiring specialized training and certifications to enhance your skills and increase your earning potential.
  • Network actively with industry professionals and potential clients to secure valuable gigs.
  • The average hourly rate for drone pilots can range from $30 to $100, depending on experience and specialization. Source: Drone U

Entry-Level Drone Pilot Salary: A Look at the Numbers

Video: Five CAREERS for Drone Pilots.

  • Entry-level drone pilot salaries tend to be lower than those of experienced pilots.
  • Salaries can vary widely based on your location and the industry you work in.
  • The minimum wage for drone pilots is often determined by the state or local government.
  • A higher salary may come with a college degree or advanced training, while those with no prior degree might find it harder to earn a high salary right out of the gate.

Factors Influencing Entry-Level Drone Pilot Salaries

It’s important to remember that drone piloting is a dynamic and fast-evolving field. As a drone pilot, your earning potential depends on a variety of factors.

1. Experience Level

  • Entry-level jobs generally offer lower salaries compared to positions that require several years of experience.
  • Gaining experience in various fields, such as aerial photography, mapping, inspection, and delivery, can dramatically boost your earning potential.
  • Building a portfolio of projects and providing testimonials from satisfied clients can help you command a higher pay rate.

2. Location

  • Salaries for drone pilots tend to be higher in metropolitan areas where there is a higher demand for drone services.
  • In less populated areas, earning potential may be lower due to fewer clients.
  • Always consider the cost of living in your area when evaluating job offers.

3. Industry Specialization

  • Drone pilots specializing in specific industries, such as agriculture, law enforcement, or real estate, may command higher salaries.
  • Developing niche skills, such as thermal imaging or 3D modeling, can make you highly sought-after.
  • Mastering industry-specific softwares and techniques can make you indispensable.

4. Education and Certifications

  • A college degree in a relevant field, like aviation management or remote sensing, can give you an edge in the job market.
  • Obtaining certifications from reputable organizations can enhance your credibility and increase your earning potential.
  • Consider certifications in aerial photography, drone piloting, or drone maintenance.

5. Company Size and Type

  • Large corporations often offer higher salaries and benefits compared to smaller businesses or freelance gigs.
  • Freelance drone pilots may have the potential for higher hourly rates, but securing consistent work can be challenging.
  • Consider working for a company with a strong reputation to gain valuable experience and build your network.

Top Drone Pilot Jobs and Their Salaries

Video: Drone Pilot Salary Survey Results REVEALED Watch This To Learn How to Make Money With a Drone.

1. Aerial Photographer/Videographer

  • These pilots are responsible for capturing stunning aerial footage for real estate, marketing, and other purposes.
  • Their salary can range from $40,000 to $85,000 per year, depending on experience, portfolio, and client base.
  • Highly skilled photographers can charge $2,000-$5,000 for a single shoot!
  • Many aerial photographers also work as videographers, offering additional services to clients.

2. Drone Inspector/ Surveyor

  • Drone inspectors use specialized cameras and sensors to assess infrastructure and identify potential problems.
  • The demand for these professionals is rising within the construction, energy, and transportation industries.
  • The salary for drone inspectors can range from $50,000 to $95,000 per year, depending on experience, location, and the size of the company.

3. Agricultural Drone Pilot

  • This field involves using drones to monitor crops, identify pests, apply fertilizer, and optimize yield, contributing to more sustainable practices.
  • As the demand for drone technology in agriculture continues to grow, so too does the need for qualified pilots.
  • The salary for agricultural drone pilots can range from $45,000 to $80,000 per year.

4. Delivery Drone Pilot

  • Drone delivery services are rapidly expanding, particularly in urban areas where traffic congestion is a major concern.
  • Delivery drone pilots handle the loading, launching, and monitoring of drones carrying packages.
  • This emerging field offers a potential salary of $40,000 to $75,000 per year, with the opportunity for growth as the industry matures.

5. Law Enforcement Drone Pilot

  • Drone operators for law enforcement agencies play a vital role in public safety, assisting with surveillance, search and rescue operations, and crime scene investigations.
  • These jobs typically offer salaries of $55,000 to $90,000 per year, depending on experience and agency.

How to Become an Entry-Level Drone Pilot

Video: How I Became a Professional Drone Pilot.

Becoming a drone pilot is more accessible than many might think. We’ll walk you through the steps.

1. Obtain a Pilot Certificate (Part 107)

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires all commercial drone operators to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate.
  • The process involves taking a written exam that covers drone regulations, safety procedures, and aircraft operations.
  • Applicants must be at least 16 years old, have a U.S. driver’s license or other valid government-issued ID, be able to read, write, and understand English, and meet certain physical and mental requirements.
  • The exam fee is $150, and the process requires you to pass a background check. Source: FAA

2. Gain Hands-On Experience

  • Don’t just learn the theory! It’s vital to gain practical experience flying drones.
  • Consider taking a flight training course from a reputable organization.
  • Practice flying drones in various environments and weather conditions.
  • Learn to operate your drone safely and efficiently.

3. Develop Essential Skills

  • Become proficient in photography, videography, or other relevant applications.
  • Explore specific industries that interest you and understand the demands of the job.
  • Master the use of essential software tools for post-processing and data analysis.
  • Improve your communication and business skills for effective client interactions.

4. Network and Build Relationships

  • Attend industry events and meet other drone pilots, potential clients, and professionals in your target field.
  • Join online forums and social media groups dedicated to drones and related topics.
  • Build a strong online presence to showcase your skills and experience.

5. Market Your Services

  • Create a website or portfolio to showcase your drone skills and previous projects.
  • Offer competitive pricing and exceptional customer service.
  • Utilize social media platforms to promote your services and reach potential clients.

The Future of Drone Piloting: What to Expect

Video: What are the rules to fly your drone in 2024?

The drone industry is experiencing exponential growth, and the future for drone pilots looks bright!

  • Integration of drones in various industries is expected to continue at a rapid pace: From agriculture and construction to delivery and law enforcement, drones are revolutionizing how we work and live.
  • Emerging technologies: Advances in AI, automation, and autonomous flight are creating exciting opportunities for drone pilots.
  • Increased demand for skilled and qualified drone pilots: New roles and job opportunities are constantly emerging.
  • Continuing education: Stay updated on the latest drone technology, regulations, and advancements through courses and training.

It’s an exciting time to delve into the world of drone piloting, a field brimming with possibilities for those who are passionate and driven!


white and red DJI quadcopter drone

Becoming an entry-level drone pilot offers a path to a rewarding and potentially lucrative career. While starting salaries might be modest, leveraging your skills, experience, and certifications can significantly boost your earning potential. Embrace the rapid evolution of drone technology, continuously refine your skills, and actively network within the industry. With dedication and a keen eye for opportunities, you can carve out a successful future in this innovative field.


Buy on:

  • Drone Pilot License: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Commercial Drone Pilot: Amazon


cloudy sky

How much do beginner drone pilots make?

Beginner drone pilots with limited experience and without specialized training can expect to earn a modest salary. The average salary for entry-level drone pilots can range from $25,000 to $50,000 per year.

What factors affect entry-level drone pilot salaries?

  • Location: Salaries are often higher in metropolitan areas due to a greater demand for drone services.
  • Industry specialization: Drone pilots specializing in niche industries like agriculture or real estate can command higher earnings.
  • Type of employment: Working for a large corporation or specializing in a high-demand industry might offer higher starting salaries than freelance work.

Read more about “How Much Money Can You Make with a Drone Business? … 💰”

Is it worth it to become a drone pilot?

It’s essential to be realistic about earning potential and the effort required to build a successful career as a drone pilot. However, the field offers exciting opportunities for those who are passionate about drones and are willing to invest time and resources.

What are the potential rewards of becoming a drone pilot?

  • Job satisfaction: The work is engaging and offers the opportunity to contribute to innovative projects.
  • Career growth: The drone industry is rapidly growing, creating new roles and opportunities for career advancement.
  • Financial potential: With dedication, experience, and specialization, you can potentially earn a substantial income.

Read more about “Drone Business Plan: Your Ultimate Guide to Success in 2024! 🚁”

Can you make 6 figures as a drone pilot?

Yes, it is possible to earn a six-figure income as a drone pilot, but it typically requires several years of experience, specialized skills, and a successful business model.

How can you increase your earning potential as a drone pilot?

  • Gain experience: Build a strong portfolio of projects and work with diverse clients to showcase your expertise.
  • Specialize in a niche: Focus on a specific industry or skillset, such as aerial photography, inspection, or 3D modeling, to become highly sought-after.
  • Develop your business skills: Learn marketing, sales, and client management to build a successful freelance or business venture.

Read more about “🚁 Is There a Demand for Drone Operators in 2024? 7 Reasons Why the Answer is a Resounding YES!”

Can you make a living flying drone?

Yes, it is possible to make a living flying drones, but it requires dedication, hard work, and the right approach.

What are some common ways to earn a living as a drone pilot?

  • Freelance work: Offering services to various clients in fields like real estate, construction, or agriculture.
  • Full-time employment: Working for a company that utilizes drones for various purposes, such as aerial photography, surveillance, or inspection.
  • Starting a drone business: Launching a company that provides drone services to other businesses or individuals.

Read more about “Are Drone Operators in Demand? … 🚁”

Review Team
Review Team

The Popular Brands Review Team is a collective of seasoned professionals boasting an extensive and varied portfolio in the field of product evaluation. Composed of experts with specialties across a myriad of industries, the team’s collective experience spans across numerous decades, allowing them a unique depth and breadth of understanding when it comes to reviewing different brands and products.

Leaders in their respective fields, the team's expertise ranges from technology and electronics to fashion, luxury goods, outdoor and sports equipment, and even food and beverages. Their years of dedication and acute understanding of their sectors have given them an uncanny ability to discern the most subtle nuances of product design, functionality, and overall quality.

Articles: 203

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *