How to become a drone surveyor?

How to become a drone surveyor?

Drone surveying and mapping involve aerial surveys done with the help of specialized drones. These drones are fitted with sophisticated cameras or LiDAR payloads to collect data.

Aerial land surveys are quick, accurate, and cost-effective. This has led to a rise in their demand. 

To conduct these surveys, one needs drone surveyors. These individuals are experienced in land surveying techniques and adept at drone operation.

How to become a drone surveyor? To become a drone surveyor, one must possess a remote pilot certificate from the FAA, understand surveying techniques, and be proficient in using surveying software.

Sounds like a dream job? Let’s learn more about how to become a drone surveyor.  

Steps on How to Become a Drone Surveyor

The four essential steps to becoming a drone surveyor are:

1.    Obtain a Drone Pilot License

2.    Gain Practical Drone Flying Experience

3.    Acquire Education in Surveying

4.    Develop Technical Skills

Let’s elaborate.

Step 1: Drone Pilot License

How to become a drone surveyor?

What is the first step to becoming a drone surveyor?

A Part 107 exam for drone surveyors is a major requirement of this profession. The FAA issues it to pilots who pass the Remote Pilot Airman Knowledge Test.

This license allows the pilot to fly drones weighing under 55 pounds for work or business. This is subject to certain guidelines, which you can read about here.

Drone pilot license requirements, as mentioned on the FAA website:

  • Minimum 16 years of age
  • Ability to speak, write, and understand English
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS

If you want to learn more about the study material prescribed by the FAA, you can visit the FAA library.

Step 2: Drone Flying Experience

How important is practical flying experience for a drone surveyor?

Practical flying experience for drone pilots is mandatory to meet the basic requirements of the survey. 

You must be proficient in operating the drone safely and within the rules prescribed by the FAA.

There are various technologies for drone surveyors. Familiarity with different drone types, along with their features, controls, and limitations, is an added upside. 

This is because different types of surveys will require different drones. The DJI Phantom 4RTK, senseFly eBee X, DJI Matrice 300 RTK SP, and DJI Inspire 2 are some of the commonly used surveying drones.

Since surveying requires precision, the drone pilot must be capable of planning and flawless execution of the mission.

This involves accounting for weather conditions, avoiding obstacles, and troubleshooting common issues and errors.

Being familiar with the drone’s internal machinery and the ability to maintain and repair the drone always comes in handy in this profession.

To get more flying experience, you can join training centers or drone flying groups. Surrounding yourself with professional drone pilots is definitely an invaluable opportunity to be a savvy pilot. 

Step 3: Surveying Education

The educational qualifications for becoming a drone surveyor differ from state to state.

There are two pathways that one may choose if they wish to be involved in land surveying education for drone surveyors – Survey Technician and Professional Surveyor.

Survey Technician

People often ask- Can I become a drone surveyor without a surveying degree?

Yes, a survey technician may or may not possess the educational qualifications pertaining to surveying. Their job is primarily field-based and requires data collection using drones.

While there is no formal education or experience needed, there are a few programs that can train you to become a technician. For more information on this, you can visit this link.

Professional Surveyor

Some aspects of surveying can only be performed by Professional Surveyors. Any services related to location and boundary line surveys fall under these Professional Surveyors’ purview. 

Depending on the job profile, they can work in both on-field and desk jobs.

To become a professional surveyor, one needs a bachelor’s degree from a surveying program accredited by ABET.

Apart from that, the prerequisites are successful completion of the FS exam (Fundamentals of Surveying), the PS exam (Principles and Practice of Surveying), and a state-specific examination.

Additionally, some states also require four years of experience in the domain.

The examinations are administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

Step 4: Technical Skills

Now you might be thinking – are there specific certifications required for drone surveying? 

The ASPRS certification for drone surveyors is designed to equip them with an understanding of photogrammetry and the mapping sciences.

With the help of this certification, one can curate reliable measurements and information in surveying.

Besides this, you must be able to plan an efficient flight path to yield the desired data. This includes ensuring that the parameters and coordinates are precise. A GIS certification for drone surveying helps in this regard.  

Besides knowing how to fly a drone, there are certain technical skills that a drone surveyor needs.

What tools and technologies do drone surveyors commonly use? Data Processing and Analysis, map interpretation, familiarity with Photogrammetry Software, and report generation are some technical skills that are useful.

Thereafter, a drone surveyor must accurately process the raw data into actionable information for the client using the tools for drone surveying.

This needs a combination of creativity, technical knowledge, and communication skills. If you have a knack for analyzing and presenting data, then this career can be very rewarding.

Career Opportunities For Certified Drone Surveyors

Now after all this comes the final and most pertinent question. What career opportunities are available for certified drone surveyors?

Drone surveyors are in demand in various sectors. As a drone surveyor, you can find employment in the fields of construction, mining, agriculture, real estate, agriculture, etc.

You might also ask – can drone surveyors work independently or are they typically employed by companies?

Both government and private agencies actively hire drone surveyors for various land mapping and survey requirements.

But what if you stop learning once you’re employed? Are there ongoing education requirements for drone surveyors?

Yes, a distinct set of skills is needed for every survey. So be prepared for regular updates and learning to succeed!

Conclusion

To sum up, to become a drone surveyor, one needs a valid license, a drone surveyor certification, and technical skills.

As mentioned earlier, educational qualifications are not the only prerequisites to becoming a survey technician.

Drone surveys are increasingly being used to collect accurate data more quickly and efficiently. Per a recent report, the drone survey market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.3% in the period 2023-33.

You can always start your preparation now and be a part of this lucrative job with immense future potential!

FAQ

1. How do I stay updated on the latest technologies in drone surveying?

You can learn about the latest survey technologies by enrolling in short-term courses, both online and offline. 

2. How do I begin my career as a drone surveyor?

The foremost step is to buy a drone and enroll in drone flying training. This will help you get a license.

Subsequently, you can apply for various related courses.

3. What are the data analysis skills needed by drone surveyors?

The ability to use sophisticated software and techniques for data collection and representation is required.

You should be adept at creating charts, graphs, and reports to highlight the findings.

4. Is the FAA Part 107 remote pilot license permanent?

Yes, the license does not have an expiration. However, upon completion of the initial knowledge test, one has to update their recency of aeronautical knowledge within 24 calendar months.

Author
Diptesh Das

Diptesh Das is your friendly ‘content maniac’ and drone enthusiastic! Being passionate about content writing. He is a firm believer of the power of words and thereby ended up leveraging them to create an impact by sharing his drone knowledge and experiences.

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