You just bought a drone, or maybe you even made it yourself. So what do you do with it? You could just fly it around, or you could do even more — in fact, you can even make money off of it!
Here are 7 next steps to consider now that you have a drone:
- Get your Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA so you can start earning money: In order to fly drones commercially, you’ll have to pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aeronautical Exam (commonly referred to as the Part 107 test). The Part 107 test, which is a set of 60 multiple choice questions with a single correct response for each one, and can be taken at one of the 696 testing centers in the United States. Upon passing, you’ll be a certified FAA pilot! I recommend studying through an online course such as Drone Pilot Ground School or Drone Launch Academy.
- Enter a drone video or photo festival: There are tons of drone photo and video festivals out there, and many will pay you money (or at least award you with free swag, including drones) for your art. There are tons of photo contests out there to choose from, including the New York City Drone Film Festival, SkyPixel (which is an aerial art community connected to DJI) or the AirVuz drone video awards, among many others.
- Try drone racing: Drone racing can be a fun way to meet other drone fanatics, and it can even be a lucrative income stream if you’re good enough to get sponsors and win races.
- Apply for a drone scholarship: Especially if you’re young, there are plenty of opportunities to get money to pursue your passion. There are many drone scholarship opportunities out there, such as this set of drone scholarships from Drone Pilot Ground School that will reimburse high school students for the cost of their $150 FAA exam fee, and will even award $1,000 cash to college students interested in drones.
- Join a political advocacy group: There are a number of drone lobbying or political advocacy groups such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and The Association For Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) that do significant work on behalf of the drone industry. They’re trying to raise public awareness around drones, as well as advocate for laws that benefit the drone industry. Many drone advocacy groups, including the two mentioned here, accept members of the public to join. Joining often requires you to pay dues, but comes with benefits such as voting power or perks like complimentary drone insurance.
- Start looking for a job in drones: No matter your interest, there is a job for you, besides just the obvious of drone pilot. There are plenty of college majors that can lend themselves well to a career in drones. You could be a software or hardware engineer, a data analyst, or even a wildly creative and unique job like drone costume designer. You can work for a company, or you could work for yourself (these drone pilots report making six-figure salaries as freelancers). A great business model can even leave you earning passive income.
- Imagine ways you can improve the world with drones: Drones can do so many things to make the world a better place, and so many jobs they are capable of doing are completely unexpected. They’re breeding plants. They’re restoring the Great Wall of China. They’re exploring volcanos. Dream up your next potential use case for drones.
What would you do after getting a drone? Leave a comment below!