The commercial market for drone operators is expanding, and that’s good news for the industry. Insurance, construction, inspections and security firms are all increasing their adoption of drone technology. But the pool of licensed drone operators is expanding too – and that can make it difficult to stand out and get hired.
The best way to boost your career as a licensed operator is to upgrade your skill set, and market accordingly. “People hiring drone operators are looking to solve a specific problem,” says Miriam McNabb, CEO of JobForDrones. “They want to be sure that the person they hire is familiar with the tools required to get them the results they need.”
It can be hard to differentiate yourself if the product is limited to aerial images, for real estate or marketing. But for a moderate investment, operators can get themselves trained on infrared imaging technology and start offering a very specific skill. It’s worth it: there is a reason that night waivers are currently the most granted FAA waiver out there. In addition to being best for performing roof inspections and other types of thermal imaging work, nighttime is simply when many security missions need to be performed and when busy office or public buildings prefer to have drones around. Being able to offer specific skills with infrared imaging opens your portfolio to a wide variety of jobs that most operators won’t be able to compete for.
You can start out for free. The world’s leading infrared technology provider, FLIR, offers webinars and tutorials frequently to help get operators started with infrared imaging. Some of their past offerings are available here, and are worth a listen:
- Drones in Public Safety (December 2017): Link
- FLIR Duo Pro R (September 2017): Link
- Introduction to Aerial Thermal Imaging (May 2017): Link
Want to go further? FLIR’s Infrared Training Center offers a certification course: a great way to really demonstrate expertise.
Drones offer a great career for pilots – and the demand is rising. But as customers get more sophisticated in their requirements, operators need to develop skills beyond flight – and thermal imaging is a great place to start.