Career switch? Here’s where the drone jobs are

Amid soaring inflation, fears of a recession, and mass layoffs in other industries including crypto and real estate, the drone industry is going strong — and it’s hiring in droves. Drone jobs might not be as hard to come by as one might think.

There are well over a thousand job openings in the drone industry, and many are actually located in the U.S. That’s according to a fresh analysis from the good folks over at Drone Industry Insights, a drone analytics firm based in Germany that tracks figures related to all aspects of the drone industry, from market share to investment funding.

Drone Industry Insights scoured job sites including LinkedIn, Indeed, StepStone and individual company career pages between April and May 2022, and found a total of 1,004 open positions, spread across 94 drone-related companies worldwide.

drone jobs 2022 by type and country
Courtesy of Drone Industry Insights

What types of drone companies are doing the most hiring?

There are all sorts of drone companies. Some build them, while others fly them. Even others build tools to help people fly them. To find out which types of drone companies have the most job openings, Drone Industry Insights broke them down by sector, and here’s what it found:

  • 46% of job postings are by drone hardware manufacturers (461 total job openings)
  • 37% of job postings are by drone service companies (374 total job openings)
  • 17% of job postings are by drone software companies (169 total job openings)

Hardware companies dominate for job openings. But job openings for drone service companies are also high — and growing. For example, a $42 million Wingcopter funding round is set to drive huge growth for the company both in enabling new projects — and enabling hiring to execute those projects. The company said it plans to hire about 80 new employees because of its new funding, which would nearly double the size of the company.

Courtesy of Drone Industry Insights

And within those sectors, job openings are varied. Hardware companies aren’t hiring solely hardware engineers. Service companies aren’t solely hiring drone pilots.

The Drone Industry Insights report noted that, while the single most-advertised job was for software engineer, there were also a significant amount of job openings in marketing, sales, production and design. And many openings for software engineers were actually at hardware companies.

Of course, jobs as drone pilots are out there too. One 2021 report from a separate drone industry research group, Drone Analyst, suggested the industry couldn’t hire drone pilots fast enough.

Related read: Liang Feng shares a day in the life as a drone delivery lead

Courtesy of Drone Industry Insights

What changed the most about drone jobs — and what do these hiring trends tell us?

Drone Industry Insights also compared 2022’s jobs to 2018’s jobs. It purposefully ignored the past couple years given that hiring trends were unsurprisingly quite wonky in pretty much every sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Drone Software Companies: Job openings increased by 120% (from 77 to 169)
  • Drone Service Providers: Job openings increased by 113% (from 176 to 374)
  • Drone Hardware Companies: Job openings decreased by 26% (from 626 to 461).

Software has seen the biggest increase in job openings. And while hardware companies were the only sector to see a decrease in job openings, they still have the most amount of job openings overall — hiring for 461 open positions at the time of the report.

In short: we have the hardware already. Now, it’s time to apply by actually providing drone operating services, or by building software that can better manage and interpret the data that was gathered by those drones.

“Now that the industry as a whole has become more mature, it is all about applying drone technology,” according to a statement from Drone Industry Insights. “To thrive, drone companies now need to focus on developing the right software and services and they need to promote their unique selling positions.”

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