The short answer is yes, the Drone market is a fastly evolving and growing industry.

It is poised for growth and if you are looking for a career change, a side hustle or a way to make money from your hobby, the drone operator market is the one to be in.

There are several key markets that pay very well, however, the salary for a drone pilot varies depending on the region in the United States and the specific job.

  • According to as of December 30, 2021, the average hourly salary nationwide for a commercial drone pilot is $39.47 per hour.
  • According to Glassdoor, The salary for a commercial drone pilot varies from $52,624 to well above $100,000 per year.

So as you can see just by looking at these two different sources the salaries have a wide range, read on to see what other factors determine the salary.

Are There Factors that Determine Salary Ranges for Drone Operators?

Yes, there are several factors including experience and location that will determine salary ranges:

1) Experience: According to those with Commercial UAV Pilot Certification have an average salary between $74,603 – $89,805 per year versus those without certification salary average salary is $51,837 – $66,626 per year.

– Location also plays a large factor in salary ranges as the average salary for commercial drone pilots can vary from an hourly wage of $35.00 to as high as $83.75 per hour and the more experienced and skilled one becomes the higher salary they can command

2) Region: According to those living and working in San Francisco and Washington D.C have an average salary of more than $70K whereas those living and working in Nashville Tennessee have an average salary closer to $48K on average

3) Industry: The salary for a drone pilot will typically rely on the industry one works in. For example, an agriculture company salary may be close to $51K whereas an aerial photography salary would be closer to $75K per year

4) Type of Drone: The salary for drone pilots varies depending on the type of drones used in the operations. According to, those using sUAS (small Unmanned Aircraft Systems) average salary is between $72,757 – $90,000 compared to those using commercial aircraft which range from $52,624 to well above $100,000 per year

5) Duties: The salary for a drone pilot can vary due to the specific duties they perform during operations. For instance, according to Glassdoor salary ranges for a Drone Pilot are between $48,056 – $89,000 per year whereas salary ranges for Surveyors are closer to $53,771- 92,500 per year

What Drone Pilot Jobs are in Demand?

According to, the top salary job opportunities in demand for drone pilots include:

– Aerial photographers

– Drone service technicians

– Commercial UAV pilots (or unmanned aerial vehicle) operators

– Parachute riggers

– Arial photographers and filmmakers

Are you ready to become a drone pilot?

Check out our articles, How to Get an FAA Commercial Drone Pilot Certification, How to Become a Drone Pilot, or if you are interested in drone business and career ideas check out our articles to get started, How to Become a Drone Operator and Drone Business Ideas.

Drop a comment if you found this article helpful and are interested in more drone information.