How to Make Money With a Drone

April 29

How to Make Money With a Drone

Flying a drone is one of the world’s best career opportunities. Dozens of industries are investing in the technology, and that means it’s possible to make money in hundreds of ways.

Making money as a drone pilot requires you to master your skills, hold the relevant licences and qualifications, and purchase the right equipment.

Learn how to make money with a drone, and everything you need to know to get started.

Do I Need a Licence to Fly a Drone for Money?

Generally speaking, you do need a drone licence if you intend to make money by flying a drone. This applies if you want to:

  • Work for yourself
  • Work for a third party business or drone service provider
  • Fly on behalf of a business or individual that holds a Remote Operator’s Certificate (ReOC)

You may not need a drone licence if you are operating an excluded category drone within the standard operating conditions set out by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

Obtaining Your Drone Licence (RePL)

In Australia, drone licences are called Remote Pilot Licences (RePL). You can earn your RePL through a training provider such as Toll Uncrewed Systems.

Your training will include a blend of theoretical and practical learning. Our programs provide everything you need to start making money with a drone, including hands-on flight training.

In addition to your licence, you may also need a Remote Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) if you want to make money as a drone pilot.

Do I Need a Remote Operator’s Certificate (ReOC)?

You (or your business) needs to hold an ReOC if you intend to do any of the following:

  • Provide commercial drone services
  • Fly drones that weigh more than 2kg
  • Fly drones outside of CASA’s standard operating conditions

You may not need an ReOC if:

  • You hold an RePL, AND;
  • Are flying your drone behalf of another individual or business that holds an ReOC (e.g. your employer).

An ReOC is separate from your drone licence. It allows individuals and businesses to provide drone services on a commercial basis.

An ReOC also permits you to fly drone missions that fall outside the standard operating conditions. This includes things like flying a drone in crowded areas, which may be important if you are a photographer or videographer.

Excluded Category Drones

You can fly drones for work or for money without an RePL if you are operating an excluded category drone. Excluded category drones that can be used to make money include:

  • Drones weighing 250g or less (Micro RPAs)
  • Drones weighing between 250g and 2kg (Very Small RPAs)

Excluded category drones are commonly used for jobs like photography and videography. For instance, real estate photographers tend to use very small drones to take photos and videos of properties.

If you operate an excluded category drone without an RePL, you’ll also need to:

  • Register an aviation reference number (ARN)
  • Get an RPA operator accreditation
  • Register your drone
  • Operate your drone within CASA’s standard operating conditions

CASA’s standard operating conditions are a set of safety rules that limit when, where and how you can fly a drone. This restricts your ability to fly drones at night, around other people, and beyond your visual line of sight.

We recommend reviewing CASA’s drone safety rules. If your job requires you to fly a drone outside of these conditions, you’ll need to operate under an ReOC. The ReOC can be held by you, your business or your employer.

If you’re operating under an ReOC, you’ll also need an RePL.

The Equipment You Need to Make Money With a Drone

Before you decide whether you need a drone licence, you’ll need to know what type of drone you’re operating.

Flying drones on a commercial basis can be a lucrative career. Your skills will be in high demand, especially within industries such as entertainment, real estate, mining, agriculture, engineering and construction.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to invest in a high quality drone system. We typically recommend drone platforms, sensors and payloads from DJI. DJI produces some of the world’s best commercial-grade drones, some of which can be flown without the need for an RePL.

The exact drones, cameras, sensors and other payloads you purchase will depend on the type of business you intend to operate.

For instance, drones like the DJI Mavic 3 are ideal for simple services such as real estate photography. However, if you wanted to offer more complex services in the agricultural industry, you’d need a dedicated drone platform like the DJI Agras T40.

Speak with our consultants to learn more about commercial drone systems and their capabilities.

How to Make Money With a Drone

You’ve earned your drone licence, registered your business and purchased the equipment you need. You can now start making money with your drone!

Drones are used for a huge variety of commercial tasks. You’ll need an RePL for most applications. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common ways businesses and pilots use their drones to earn a living:

1. Photography and Videography

This is an excellent starting point for pilots wanting to make money using a drone.

Aerial photography is in high-demand for industries like real estate, journalism, content creation and social media, design projects, and weddings.

Many drone photographers also capture their own photos and videos that can then be sold for profit. You can sell photos to many types of businesses, and it’s common for aerial photographers to market their images through stock photo websites.

2. Mapping

Drones are now used extensively for mapping, particularly in the construction, engineering, mining and agriculture industries.

Modern drone platforms are capable of using positional data (typically from GPS systems) to stitch together aerial photographs and create detailed maps of an area. 

The maps created by drones are used for things like planning projects, monitoring changes in the land, searching for landmarks, cultivating crops and plantations, and building structures.

Offering mapping services can be very valuable, but it requires dedicated equipment and processing software.

3. Equipment Inspections

Drones are now widely used to inspect buildings, structures and other types of equipment. When it comes to things like roads, bridges and power infrastructure, these inspections need to be carried out regularly.

As an asset inspector, your job is to capture data about a structure that can be used to identify defects and plan maintenance, repairs or construction works.

There are many opportunities for drone asset inspections, particularly in the civil infrastructure, mining and power generation industries.

4. Surveying

Drone surveying is a broad category that includes services like:

  • Mapping and modelling the contour of terrain
  • Measuring volumes and stockpile management
  • Surveying properties for upcoming projects
  • Monitoring properties
  • Monitoring changes in structures
  • Modelling the flow of water
  • Thermal inspections
  • And much more

Drones have quickly become industry-standard equipment for surveying. Working as a surveyor requires other types of formal training, but investing in a drone can allow you to greatly expand your career.

5. Agriculture

Australia’s agriculture industry is increasingly relying on drones to automate major projects and processes.

Drones are now being used to monitor the health of crops, spray fertilisers and other treatments, plant seeds, kill weeds, track animal movements and much more.

These services are highly specialised and very highly valued by agriculture and forestry operators.

Start Making Money as a Drone Pilot with Training From Toll Uncrewed Systems!

Drone pilots are some of Australia’s most sought-after professionals. With applications in mining, construction, engineering and beyond, drone pilots have opportunities all over the country.

The only thing you need to get started is drone licence training from Toll Uncrewed Systems!

Toll Uncrewed Systems provides drone training and drone services in Australia. We train everyone from first-time pilots to experienced aviation professionals.

Our drone licence program is a great starting point for anyone looking to break into the industry. We cover everything you need to start flying drones on a commercial basis, so you can earn the skills you need to find your first role.

You can enrol in our courses online, or contact one of our consultants to learn more about drone licence requirements in Australia.


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