How to become a drone operator: Carys' story

Meet Carys who is a drone operator and hear her story of how she got there. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

What I really enjoy about being a drone pilot is going out and getting that shot.

  • Carys’ job is really varied. A typical day for her could be flying a drone for TV - for example for a live on-location broadcast - or filming a racing car going down the track
  • Carys did GCSEs and started A-levels before deciding to swap to do an HNC (Higher National Certificate) in Business and Finance. She knew she wanted to work in TV, so she started as a runner for a small TV production company, working her way up to assistant producer, and then working in the camera department of the BBC
  • Drone pilots can also work with the fire or mountain rescue services. And there are opportunities to operate drones where it is unsafe for humans to go - on high structures like wind turbines, communication towers and oil rigs
  • Her advice for anybody who wants to become a drone operator is to practice and learn how it works. You then need to obtain permission from the Civil Aviation Authority, which will involve going on a special course.

What to expect if you want to be a drone operator

  • Drone operator salary: variable
  • Drone operator working hours: 39 to 41 hours per week. You may work evenings and weekends

What qualifications do you need to be a drone operator?

  • Typical entry requirements You can get into this job through applying directly or through specialist courses run by private training organisations. If you apply for jobs directly, most employers will expect you to have experience of flying drones, with at least 40 hours of recorded flying time.
    You could complete training approved by the Civil Aviation Authority. This lasts between two and four days and includes: UK air regulations, flight safety, flight planning, a theory test and practical flight skills assessment. You'll also have to write an operations manual describing how you are going to use your drone commercially. After successfully completing training, you can apply for the PfCO (permission for commercial operations certificate), which you need to fly drones for commercial purposes. You must renew the certificate every 12 months.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

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