Drones are very cool little devices that remind us all of the future in which we live. There are some controversies about how to use them properly, but the FAA has drafted some rules that allow for commercial drone use. This opened up an entirely new market for UAV pilots. Aerial videography and photography have become high-paying career opportunities for pilots with the right skills.

It helps that there has been an increase of RC drones for sale.Technology is more affordable and already outfitted with the necessary equipment. Here are some of the ways pilots are making money, and a look at how you can improve your own skills to get at this professional level.

A Quick Note

The FAA requires registration of any drone that is heavier than 55 pounds. You must also pay an additional $5 per drone you are registering. It’s likely that the vendor you’re buying your drone from will have some advice for you on registration, so be sure to ask at the time of purchase.

Drone Racing

The Star Wars prequels introduced a neat concept called “pod racing”, a kind of high-speed obstacle course that challenged racers to avoid certain death in a quest to be first across the line. Drone racing won’t kill its participants, but it offers many of the same thrills. High-tech setups utilize a VR headset to immerse the pilot and give audiences a perspective of the action.

Cameras mounted to the droid allow the pilot to plot a course and avoid crashing. Big sponsors are backing the events too. Some pilots land sponsorship deals that allow them to leave their jobs and race full time, a true hobby with a potential payoff.

Drone racing does require investment, though. You have considerations about weight and speed that require technical understanding to modify. Good pilots customize every aspect of the drone to achieve certain qualities mid-flight.


One of the more obvious ways drones have become a source of income is through the HD cameras they carry. High definition photography or videography of a scene offers new perspectives.

Photography can land drone pilots gigs at weddings, concerts or scout for film locations. Promotional footage for all kinds of amusement attractions is also in high demand. Look at golf courses or sports fields as sources for potential jobs.

There’s a for-fun component as well. Shooting these videos can become a great source of side income if you post to a site like YouTube. You will need to do some simple video editing to make it look nice, and you may want to contract a musician to write some music for your videos as your production value increases, but videos that go viral can earn extra cash each month.

Commercial Pilots

Commercial drones fulfill all types of work, with the newest task being delivering of packages. The logistics of this kind of work is still being sorted out by agencies like the FAA, but the very near future will most likely include drone-delivered packages.

After a natural disaster, skilled pilots would be able to get a better assessment of the damage without putting human lives at risk. Contractors could use drone footage to look at the quality of a roof, or the structural integrity of a building, without putting lives in danger.

Final Thoughts

Drones are more than just a hobby today, and experienced pilots can earn a full-time living. Practice flying basic maneuvers, taking photos and develop a website for yourself. Publish your footage, print up some business cards and network with people. You might be surprised at what you find.