Hi Lifehacker, Recently, I have spent a lot of time flying my drone around at the local park, and it has got me thinking; How do I make a career out of this?
There are lots articles online about how there are going to be more and more jobs in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry, but nothing about how to get any of them. After a brief web search, all I could turn up was a military role as a UAV pilot. Do I have to train as a pilot? (Expensive!) Any other alternatives or thoughts? Thanks, Drone Devotee
The first thing you should probably do is bone up on the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) to ensure you're not actually breaking any laws. The main things to be aware of is that you're not supposed to fly your drone near airports or over other people's private property. You will also be 100% liable for any damage your drone causes.
As to finding employment, the UAV industry is still in its infancy outside of military jobs. That said, it is quickly gaining traction in a range of verticals including TV reporting, meteorology, emergency services, farming, surveillance and commercial goods delivery.
Whether any of these projects come to fruition remains to be seen however. Even if they do get past the development stage, there's no guarantee that they will require humans to control them in the traditional UAV sense. The technology is likely to be so different that your existing skills will be of little use. For example, the proposed government drones would be capable of reaching heights of 55,000 feet and would probably weigh more than 200kg; anyone in control of one of these babies would definitely need some kind of pilot's license.
On the other hand, the fact that this industry is just heating puts you in prime position to spruik your UAV knowledge to smaller start-ups. Various organisations such as Unmanned Systems Australia are looking for hobbyists to help them with testing and safety/risk assessment.
If you're serious about pursuing unmanned aerial vehicle control as a career, you should apply for a UAV controller certificate. You can find out what steps are involved by paying a visit to the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority's website.
We're also going to throw this question open to our readers — if there are any UAV aviators out there, let DD know how you got earned your 'wings' in the comments section below.
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