There are a lot of people trying to make money in drones. You’re a competent, talented pilot. You’re free to fly drones for work on the side. And most pilots start with standard, visual images. But the real money is in enterprise and commercial work, like modeling and mapping. So how do you learn how to do that? Consider a drone mapping class.
And while the course is normally a still pretty affordable $399, Drone Launch Academy is offering Drone Girl readers an exclusive, $150 discount. Enter coupon code DRONEGIRLMAPS at checkout to get $150 off. That brings the $399 down to $249, and the discount should automatically apply with this link.
Why drone mapping is a natural next step in your drone business
When most people initially launch their drone business, it’s fairly common to start by using drones to photograph standard visual images, like real estate photography, art or architecture photography, or event photography. In short, all things you can photograph with a standard visual camera.
But as drones get cheaper and more ubiquitous, the market has become somewhat saturated. Many drone photographers report losing real estate jobs to the 15-year-old kid with a drone willing to work for $15 an hour.
Perhaps more surprisingly though is, despite a “saturated market,” there’s still a shortage of drone pilots. But the shortage is in pilots who are capable of serious, enterprise drone flights, and who have dedicated knowledge that runs deeper than simply knowing how to take off and land a drone, and take some pictures with it.
DroneAnalyst, which is an independent consulting group covering the drone industry, found in its annual report that most drone service providers say they can’t hire qualified pilots fast enough. In fact, 10% of drone service providers in 2021 said that “difficulty finding pilots” is one of their top issues, up from just 6% who reported that in 2018.
And with that skillset, you could make serious money. In 2021, nearly half (46%) of providers made more than $50,000 annually, according to DroneAnalyst’s report. Most of the companies in DroneAnalyst’s survey are sole proprietors and teams smaller than five. For sole proprietors, $50,000 annually is pretty serious side hustle income.
How to learn about using drones for mapping and modeling
Certainly many people who work in mapping and modeling and who use drones have advanced degrees in fields such as GIS, surveying and mapping. But you don’t necessarily need a college education to land jobs, and plenty of the most successful drone pilots in mapping space are self-taught.
That said, drone mapping and modeling isn’t typically something a novice can just dive into without training. Typically, these types of operations involve flying around expensive infrastructure and equipment, which you don’t want to risk damaging should you not be certain in the flight controls. And the data is not valuable if you don’t know how to actually collect it.
Thus, one of the best ways to learn those things without a full college degree is to enroll in a low cost course such as Drone Launch Academy’s Drone Mapping And Modeling Fundamentals course. Among the things you’ll learn in that course:
- What data is important to clients, and what data you’d need to collect.
- How to collect and process data.
- How to land government contracts.
- What equipment you need (and it’s not necessarily out of your budget).
Typically, you’ll just need a drone with a quality camera, like a DJI Mavic 2 Pro or a DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0. You’ll also need drone mapping and modeling software. While some of these softwares can be expensive, many offer free versions with limited capabilities.
Drone Launch Academy’s Drone Mapping And Modeling Fundamentals course is divided into sections that include:
- An intro to Photogrammetry
- Data acquisition fundaments
- Nadir vs. oblique imagery
- Absolute versus relative accuracy
- Automated flight plans
- Front and side overlap settings
- Common GIS files and software outputs
- Manual georeferencing
- Annotating marker maps
- GeoTIFF files and .SHIP files
- Creating reports
It’s extensive, and it’s thorough.
With the $499 course fee (or $249, with the discount), you’ll get:
- Lifetime access to the complete drone mapping class, which will teach you exactly how to create maps and 2D models with your drone.
- The option to join a cohort of other students who work alongside as you go through the course (that option is designed for people who want help staying accountable and on track to finish the course in just 6 weeks).
- Access to Drone Launch Academy’s community of fellow drone mapping students, where you can ask questions, share your work, and network.
If you’re still not totally sure, Drone Launch Academy has also provided Drone Girl readers with a few freebie lessons from its drone mapping class. This not only gives you a sense of what the rest of the course is like, but it also serves as a great, free class to watch anyway — even if you don’t go through with the rest of the course. Free learning!
The three free lessons are (watch them at the link below):
Beyond the freebie courses and the discount, Drone Launch Academy has historically had a solid, consumer-first business outlook. For example, when it comes to the Part 107 class, Drone Launch Academy is so confident in its product that — if you fail your in-person exam — Drone Launch Academy will pay for you to retake it. That’s an $150 value in itself, on top of a course refund (an additional $199 value). Drone Launch Academy also has a prominent spot with the FAA as one of just a handful of TRUST administrators.
Sign up for the Drone Mapping And Modeling Fundamentals course here. Enter promo code DRONEGIRLMAPS at checkout to save $150 and bring your price down to just $249.
What other drone mapping classes are out there?
If you’re seeking a drone mapping class, your choices are pretty slim.
The only other course I recommend as highly as the Drone Launch Academy version is the Aerial Mapping and Modeling Live Virtual Workshop from DARTdrones. But the DARTdrones class costs $750, which makes the $249 price look like a steal.
So why is the DARTdrones Aerial Mapping and Modeling Live Virtual Workshop so much more expensive? That’s because it’s a live course, with a real instructor who talks to you and can answer your questions in real-time. The Drone Launch Academy version is pre-recorded, which keeps the costs down.
But for folks seeking that personalization, the Aerial Mapping and Modeling Live Virtual Workshop might be a better fit, even with the higher price. That’s because it offers all the benefits of an in-person course — the ability to ask the instructor on-the-spot questions with instant responses, more customization and higher engagement. And then there’s the added benefits of an at-home training course: no commute to the classroom (instead you get to stay on your couch). You don’t have to wear pants if you don’t want to.