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How to become a Freelance Drone Pilot

March 20, 2019


It’s never been easier to find alternative ways to earn revenue. Why not have a hustle that is also your hobby? As a certified Drone Pilot with the FAA you can earn money full time or part time working for yourself.

What does it mean to be a certified pilot?

There are a few steps that you are required to go through if you want to fly drones commercially in the U.S. All commercial pilots must pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test at a FAA-approved testing center. There are plenty of resources online to prepare for this exams and test-takers have reported taking about 15-20 hours of studying prior to sitting for the test. After taking the test and waiting 48 hours you can apply for a Remote Pilot Certificate with the FAA. It typically takes the FAA about 10 business days to review applications.

The legal restrictions

There are several restrictions that you must be aware of as a drone pilot. Check out the Federal Aviation Administration for a comprehensive list of national laws. It is also necessary to check with your state or local government to see what restrictions are in place. Failure to compile with local laws can result in hefty fines and serious legal repercussion.

Drone flying

How much can I earn?

Amatuer to experienced drone pilots can make anywhere from $20-200/hour on the job. Freelancers have reported earning up to $100-200k per year. This range in income often heavily depends on things like your skill level, your location of operation, and the size of your network. There are some companies that allow you to work for them as an independent contractor. What you lose in the autonomy of working for yourself, you’ll gain credibility in their name and will likely score more leads.

What is apart of the job description?

It’s up to you! There are many options to choose from as a freelance drone pilot, here are a few ideas:

  • Survey houses for property damage
  • Create promotional material for the Real Estate Industry
  • Offer Drone Lessons for beginner flyers
  • Film music videos or other entertainment
  • Offer Surveying Services across Professional Verticals: (Solar / Wind / Coal & Gas, GIS and Mapping, Building & Construction, Government, Public Safety)

Basically you decide the hours and what projects you want to take - the sky’s the limit!


Written by Mellow a startup which allows you to borrow from Neighbors. You should check it out