Looking for Drone Work? Look into Drone Inspections
Do you have your Part 107?
Then you’re ready to start making money as a commercial drone pilot—and one way to cash in on your piloting skills is to collect visual data for inspectors.
Roofs often need inspections and there is also high demand for drone pilots in the industrial sector too.
But what would that inspection work look like for you as a drone pilot?
- First—The drone pilot collects videos/photos by drone showing the condition of the roof or other asset being inspected.
- Then—An inspector examines the videos/photos to visually inspect the roof/other asset, similar to what they would do if they were standing directly in front of it.
What Kind of Drone Should I Get for Inspection Work?
Before we dive into inspection work, it’s important that you come prepared for the job with the right drone.
The good news is you don’t need a super expensive drone to do some of the most common types of inspection work.
When considering drone models, it is important to consider the type of inspection camera you might need.
Power line and cell tower inspections often call for high-resolution zoom capabilities, since you can’t fly too close to the asset being inspected. And home inspections might call for a thermal camera, so you can see where heat is escaping.
Two middle-grade drones you could use to get started are the Autel Evo II (shown below) and the Phantom 4.
But if you’re just getting started with inspection work as a drone pilot, don’t worry too much about the drone model you use at first.
Just start with a solid middle-grade drone that falls within the $500-$2,000 price range—you can always scale up from there with higher end platforms and payloads as you get more work, and learn more about the specific needs of your clients.
Two Types of Inspection Work for Drone Pilots
There are two main paths you can take to work in inspections as a drone pilot: roof inspections and industrial inspections.
1. Roof Inspections
Roof inspections are conducted by home inspectors and insurance companies.
Home inspectors and insurance adjusters typically inspect roofs by using a ladder to climb on top of them and by walking the ground looking up at them.
In some cases, part of a roof or even all of it can’t be accessed and inspections are performed only from the ground which—you can imagine—is not the most ideal scenario.
And this is where you come in.
A drone pilot can help roof inspectors and insurance adjusters by providing quick, easy, and affordable roof access by drone.
After big weather events, insurance companies are often inundated with claims for damaged roofs. To investigate these claims, some of these companies are turning to drone pilots to collect aerial data.
For major storms, like hurricanes, these claims come in simultaneously and in droves. Using drones to collect visual data is a quick way for these companies to assess the validity of the claims they receive.
And gathering aerial data for insurance inspections can be relatively easy and lucrative work.
2. Industrial Inspections
Working in industrial inspections as a drone pilot can be very lucrative.
It can also be a challenge to get plugged into these industries due to the contracting process—but if you get just one client for industrial inspections it could end up being your big break.
Drone technology is widely being adopted in industrial applications because drones can help save companies lots of money by decreasing turnaround times (the time needed to perform inspections, during which an asset isn’t running).
Every hour of turnaround time—also called downtime—might represent losses of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for big industrial clients. And this is why they’re willing to pay top dollar for quick, high quality inspections by drone.
Drones are used in both indoor and outdoor inspections.
One of the most dangerous types of inspections for people to perform are those that take place in confined spaces.
But special indoor drones can remove the need for people to enter those tight internal spaces. For example, Flyability’s Elios 2 (shown below), can collect visual data that is of a high enough quality to completely remove the need for an inspector to enter a confined space, thus eliminating the hazard for the inspector.
For outdoor inspections, the drone model you choose doesn’t need to be quite so specialized (unless your client has a unique data need, like the requirement to collect high quality thermal data).
Outdoor inspections could be done with the two mid-grade drones mentioned above (the Autel Evo II or the DJI Phantom 4), or with higher-end platforms, like the DJI Matrice 210 (pictured below) or the Matrice 300.
How to Find Inspection Work
Here are some ways you can start looking for inspection work:
- Get contract work through a drone services network. Drone Digital connects commercial drone pilots with those looking for work—explore our membership tiers here to get started.
- Look for job listings on Monster.com, ZipRecruiter.com, Indeed.com, or similar job sites. Inspection inspection companies seek out drone pilots for roof inspections. Some companies seek out drone pilots as part of their team. Search for insurance companies looking for drone pilots after major storms.
- Network. Ask around your community for opportunities, engage your LinkedIn connections, attend local Chamber of Commerce meetings. Reach out to local real estate companies and property inspection companies. Throw a demonstration event for local industries. Making these connections will put your skill set in the back of peoples’ minds, and maybe one day translate into work.
Ready to get started? Sign up now to get commercial drone work through Drone Digital.