If you’re curious about how much a professional drone pilot can charge per hour, then you’ve come to the right place! We will offer helpful information for anyone who is considering hiring a professional drone pilot and wants to understand the cost associated with their services.

We’ll take a closer look at what factors might influence an individual’s rate, as well as specific average rates for both single-use jobs and long-term arrangements. So let’s find out all there is to know about how much it costs to hire a drone pilot!

According to Indeed, the average pay for a drone pilot in the United States is $25.73 per hour. With the top 10% earning more than $100/h and the bottom 10% earning as little as $10/h.

However, hourly remuneration varies greatly depending on the business and whether the work is done freelancing or in-house. For example, most drone work is done on a project/contract basis rather than as full-time employment. Particularly in businesses such as real estate, agriculture, and energy.

The hourly rate in certain industries is typically high; I’ve produced a table to break down the hour range by industry: The average hourly wage in the industry (USD).

  • Real Estate $158
  • Construction $167
  • Agriculture $160
  • Emergency Response $170
  • Solar Energy $174
  • Surveying $175
  • Mining $183
  • Oil and Gas $195

What Should You Charge For Drone Services?

How much you charge will be determined by the industry you operate in and the difficulty of the project. You should also think about how long it takes you to accomplish a task and how much experience you have done comparable activities. However, here are some broad guidelines:

Expect to earn between $50 and $100 per hour for a modest project that involves little time (e.g., taking aerial footage of an apartment building), depending on who pays you (customer or employer).

Expect to earn between $100 and $500 per hour for larger jobs needing more expertise (e.g., mapping large swathes of land), depending on who is paying you (client or employer).

The following step is to establish your hourly rate. Your hourly pricing should be determined by the value you provide, your competition, and the costs of drone services.

  • Calculate your value proposition to determine what you can charge.
  • Consider the costs of your drone service.
  • This should be compared to market pricing for similar services in your location and sector.
  • Don’t forget about expenses such as insurance and equipment replacement!

Expenses For Travel:

Travel expenses are a cost of doing business, whether you operate as a freelancer or in-house. If you are self-employed and work from home, you will be responsible for your own travel expenses.

However, if you work for an employer that covers your travel expenses as well as other benefits like medical insurance or retirement plans, they will cover these charges on your paycheck (which can be very good news).

Insurance Protection:

You’ll also need to factor in insurance costs. If you’re flying in a region where drones are restricted, or if the weather is terrible, you could have an accident and if it happens while you’re working, your insurance will cover you.

It may also cover property or personal damage, as well as theft of your drone(s). Insurance can be costly, but it is well worth the cost when you realize how much work and money has gone into purchasing it.

Invested Time:

Time is currency. That’s what they say, and it’s true. The cost of time spent on a project should be included in your pricing.

The next time you’re asked to bid on a job, make sure to include time as part of the equation. This includes the time it takes to travel to the job site, set up your equipment and get ready for flight (be sure to charge for travel time), and then pack up afterward.

Quality Deliverables:

Deliverables are the end result of your work, quality is the level of perfection in those deliverables, and time spent is the amount of time it takes you to complete that task. If you can meet all three of these criteria (deliverables, quality, and time spent), you may make a lot of money performing drone photography or videography!

Do Drone Pilots Make Aa Good Living?

It is conditional. You may earn a lot of money if you fly massive commercial drones . However, market conditions must be favorable, and you must have prior knowledge of the industry.

If you work for a firm like Amazon or Google, which are both testing out drone delivery services and need pilots to fly drone routes around their facilities (or even outside of them), then yes, you might make a lot of money.

However, if all you’re doing is taking pictures from above or doing surveillance work for someone’s security company, you won’t make much money because there are so many people offering this type of service now that they’ll be competing against each other, and driving down prices to stay competitive.


Drone pilots have become increasingly popular in recent years, and with the demand for drone piloting services growing, so is the need to know just how much they charge. With prices typically ranging from $50-$500 per hour, there are many different factors that will affect the amount of money you can budget for a drone pilot.

These include their experience level, the type of job you need them to do, and what your specific needs are. By researching the types of drone technology on offer and understanding the costs associated with having one of these professionals come to your project or event, you can ensure that it’s an investment worth making.

Dustin Dunnill
Dustin Dunnill is a drone enthusiast, tech aficionado, and the primary author for DronesMastery. With an extensive background in engineering and a passion for all things airborne, Dustin has been at the forefront of drone technology since its inception. Dustin's fascination with drones began years ago when he first witnessed the potential of these flying marvels. Since then, he has dedicated his life to understanding and exploring the capabilities of drones, becoming a respected figure in the drone community in the process. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering and has worked on various drone projects, both big and small. His hands-on experience with drone design, operation, and maintenance has given him a unique and comprehensive understanding of this ever-evolving field. When he's not busy writing or tinkering with drones, Dustin enjoys photography, another hobby that drones have significantly enhanced. He believes that drones represent more than just technological advancement; they are tools that can unlock new perspectives and possibilities, literally and figuratively. Dustin aims to share his passion for drones with readers around the world, helping them navigate the exciting yet often complex realm of drone technology.