Technology 4 min read

4 Ways to Make Money with Drones

Belish |

Belish |

Many startups have focused strategies on the booming market of drones and are offering affordable machines with impressive video capabilities. How best to use these products to make a little scratch?

The falling costs of the technology and simplification of its use are driving the democratization of drones. Drones are finding adopters in many sectors such as e-commerce, civil engineering, agriculture, construction, and entertainment.

With this comes myriad opportunities to make money with drones. Drone with camera or drone with missile launcher–there’s a drone job for everyone.

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Here are the 4 Best Ways to Make Money With Drones:

1. Enlist as a UAV Operator

You may have seen this coming, and while you’ll be safely away from the frontlines, you’ll still have to get through basic training–so make sure you can do a few pushups.

The U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force have been relying on retired airmen to fill UAV piloting jobs but as of late, they started training enlisted men and women to pilot their drones. They are hiring gamers and amateur drone pilots, and now they have more RPA (remote-piloted aircraft) jobs than conventional piloting positions.

For the fiscal year 2017, there are at least 1,000 positions to be filled as an RPA pilot who will fly MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones.

2. Be a Commercial Drone Pilot

Commercial drone pilot jobs are developing in full swing.

In several sectors, companies have found an interest in using drones and are willing to pay top dollar for skilled pilots. Expect to make anywhere from $2,500 USD for small, intermittent jobs, to $70,000 USD a year for top year-round jobs, depending on your skills and expertise.

In construction, drone pilots can carry out tricky inspections, site monitoring, and thermal imaging.

PricewaterhouseCoopers analysts predict that the market for commercial drone jobs could reach $127 million USD by 2020.

Commercial drone job market could reach $127 million USD by 2020.Click To Tweet

In forest management, pilots can carry out surveillance and animal-of-interest tracking. Forest firefighters can use drones to get real-time updates on the development of massive fires.

In media, they are used to take aerial images for various informational, entertaining or advertising purposes.

3. Become a Pro Drone Racer

This is the truly fun one–just watch the video below.

FPV (first-person-view) drone racing, with use of VR/AR headsets like Avegant‘s is becoming a true sporting discipline with its own leagues, sponsors, and die-hard fans.

Many drone racing leagues have appeared, each with its different rules that dictate the type of equipment, the racing environment, rules to win the race, etc. These leagues raise money to organize racing championships.

Sports competition is its own discipline. Becoming a master of what some call the “mental game” is what will enable you to truly make bank racing drones.

All of the failures that exist in everyday work are magnified when your performance actively dictates how much you make.

4. Drone With Camera: Become an Aerial Photographer: Stock up on Stock Footage

As a professional aerial photographer, you can take stunning photos and capture videos for private parties or commercial firms. Freelance work abounds, and the futher and farther you push your drone aeiral photography, the more of a niche you will carve out for yourself.

Drone photography offers a world of new perspectives, and being the first to offer a unique view of something familiar could inspire future generations.

You can check out a list of the best drone with camera here.

To stack the odds in your favor, you need, beside your keen eye and artistic spirit, a sophisticated camera, like Kidcia’s high-end, Wi-Fi enabled camera for FPV drones.

Competitions and contests are also on the table.

Check out the annual Dronestagram International Drone Photography contest which hands out thousands of dollars worth of prizes. The contest is held in conjunction with National Geographic, organizing a world worth of drone photos to reward the best.

Drone with camera in hand, you can do it all.

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

Comments (3)
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  1. Phil Maher June 23 at 2:18 pm GMT

    All of these methods will work u silly and make u barely any money…where is the real money?

    • Brett Forsberg June 23 at 6:38 pm GMT

      I’d say the “real” money is in commercial drone piloting. A $70,000 USD salary is pretty good, no? If you’re into wearing boots, you could also consider a military drone piloting job . . . that comes with a free personal trainer, too. He will get kind of yell-y.

      With any career surrounding a newer technology, you’ll have to be willing to do a little trailblazing. These four avenues are open to you. With a little willpower and determination, who knows where you could take the profession–nevermind where it will take you.

      • Phil Maher June 23 at 6:54 pm GMT

        Correct 70k is peanuts, the real money will be in mining the drone operators. Dronedeploy is the best play I’ve seen so far.

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