How to Become a Drone Surveyor in 2024? Step By Step

Drone surveying is an emerging field that offers exciting opportunities for individuals interested in combining their passion for technology and surveying. Drone surveyors are essential to the accurate and thorough collection of aerial data as the use of drones expands across a number of industries.

I’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to become a drone surveyor if you want to start drone surveying as a career.

What is Drone surveying?

Drones have transformed many industries over the past ten years, including surveying and mapping. Drone surveying uses drones equipped with LiDAR, high-resolution cameras, and other sensors to gather precise data from the sky. Professional surveyors prefer this technology because it makes it possible to collect geospatial data more quickly and affordably.

Understanding the Role of a Drone Surveyor

A drone surveyor is responsible for planning and executing aerial surveys to gather accurate topographic data. They use drones to capture images, videos, and other data from different altitudes and angles. The collected information is then processed and analyzed to create detailed maps, 3D models, and point clouds.

How To Become A Drone Surveyor?

steps tp become a drone surveyor

To start a drone surveying career, you will need to follow these steps:

1. Acquiring the Required Skills and Knowledge

To become a successful drone surveyor, it is essential to develop a strong foundation in surveying principles, photogrammetry, and remote sensing. Additionally, proficiency in operating drones, data processing software, and GIS (Geographic Information System) tools is crucial.

Pursuing a degree or certification program in surveying, geomatics, or related fields can provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills.

2. Obtaining the Necessary Certifications and Licenses

Operating a drone for commercial purposes requires compliance with aviation regulations. In many countries, obtaining a Remote Pilot Certificate or similar licensing is mandatory. These certifications typically involve passing a written exam and demonstrating flight competency. It is essential to research and adhere to the specific regulations and licensing requirements of your country or region.

3. Selecting the Right Drone and Equipment

Choosing the right drone and equipment is vital for a drone surveyor. Consider factors such as payload capacity, flight time, camera specifications, and sensor compatibility. Investing in a reliable and versatile drone will ensure high-quality data capture and efficient operations.

Additionally, you will need accessories like spare batteries, memory cards, and a robust computer system for data processing. These are the common types of drones that are used for drone surveys:

Multi-Rotor Drones: Due to their maneuverability and stability, multi-rotor drones such as quadcopters or hexacopters are popular choices for surveying. They are suitable for small to medium-sized areas and offer versatility in capturing aerial imagery.

Fixed-Wing Drones: Fixed-wing drones resemble traditional airplanes and are ideal for large-scale surveying projects. They can cover extensive areas in a single flight and have longer flight times compared to multi-rotor drones. Fixed-wing drones are often equipped with high-resolution cameras and LiDAR sensors for detailed mapping and topographic surveys.

Hybrid Drones: Hybrid drones combine the features of both multi-rotor and fixed-wing drones. They can take off and land vertically like a multi-rotor drone and transition to horizontal flight like a fixed-wing drone. Hybrid drones offer flexibility and efficiency, making them suitable for various surveying applications.

Read also: How much does a Drone Survey cost?

4. Familiarizing Yourself with Surveying Techniques

As a drone surveyor, you must have a solid understanding of surveying techniques. This includes knowledge of ground control points (GCPs), global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), and photogrammetric principles. Familiarize yourself with surveying terminology, coordinate systems and georeferencing methods. This knowledge will help you plan and execute accurate and reliable surveys.

5. Learning to Operate Drones Safely and Efficiently

Safety should be a top priority for every drone surveyor. Master the fundamentals of drone flight, including pre-flight checks, takeoff and landing procedures, and emergency protocols. Understand airspace regulations, weather conditions, and the limitations of your drone. Practice flying in different environments and conditions to enhance your piloting skills and ensure smooth operations.

6. Mastering Data Processing and Analysis

Mastering Data Processing and Analysis

The data collected by drones need to be processed and analyzed to derive meaningful insights. Develop proficiency in photogrammetry and remote sensing software, such as Pix4D, Agisoft Metashape, or DroneDeploy.

Learn to process images, generate orthomosaics, digital surface models (DSMs), and 3D point clouds. Enhance your skills in data analysis, feature extraction, and GIS data integration.

7. Gaining Practical Experience through Projects and Internships

To solidify your skills and knowledge, seek practical experience through projects and internships. Collaborate with surveying firms, engineering companies, or research institutions that work with drone technology. Participate in real-world surveying projects and learn from experienced professionals.

These hands-on opportunities will provide valuable insights and help you build a strong foundation in drone surveying.

8. Networking and Building Professional Relationships

Networking plays a crucial role in career development. Attend industry conferences, workshops, and seminars to connect with professionals in the surveying and drone sectors. Join relevant associations and online communities to stay updated with the latest trends and technologies. Building professional relationships can lead to mentorship, job opportunities, and collaborations.

9. Staying Updated with Technological Advancements

Technology in the drone industry is continually evolving. Stay abreast of the latest advancements in drone hardware, software, and surveying techniques. Subscribe to industry publications, follow influential blogs and social media accounts, and participate in webinars and online courses.

Embracing emerging technologies will give you a competitive edge and open up new possibilities in your career as a drone surveyor.

10. Building a Strong Portfolio

As a drone surveyor, your portfolio showcases your expertise and capabilities. Document your projects, surveys, and data processing results in a visually appealing and well-organized manner. Include before-and-after comparisons, 3D models, and accuracy assessments.

A strong portfolio demonstrates your proficiency to potential employers or clients and helps you stand out in a competitive job market.

11. Exploring Job Opportunities in Drone Surveying

Drone surveyors can find employment in various industries, including construction, infrastructure development, environmental monitoring, agriculture, and mining. Many surveying companies, engineering firms, government agencies, and drone service providers are actively hiring drone surveyors.

Explore job portals, company websites, and professional networks to discover relevant job openings.

12. Entrepreneurial Opportunities as a Drone Surveyor

Opportunities as a Drone Surveyor

Becoming a drone surveyor also offers entrepreneurial opportunities. You can establish your own drone surveying business and offer services such as aerial mapping, land surveying, inspection, and asset monitoring.

Identify niche markets or underserved industries where drone technology can provide unique solutions. Develop a business plan, market your services effectively, and provide exceptional customer experiences to thrive as an entrepreneur.

Drone Surveyor Salary

The salary of a drone surveyor can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, industry, and job responsibilities. The salary of a drone surveyor also depends on working experience and skill level. The estimated salary of expert-level drone surveyors is about $100,00 per year or even more. On the other hand, the earnings of beginner drone surveyors can earn $40,000 to $50,000 per year.

The earnings of drone surveying also depend upon whether you are a drone survey business owner, an employee, or a freelance drone surveyor.


A drone surveyor must have a combination of technical skills, knowledge, and practical experience. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can begin an exciting career in this rapidly growing field. Embrace continuous learning, stay updated with technological advancements, and build a strong professional network. With dedication and passion, you can excel as a drone surveyor and contribute to shaping the future of surveying.

FAQ: How To Become A Drone Surveyor?

Is a drone surveyor a viable career option?

Yes, pursuing a career as a drone surveyor is a highly viable option. A professional who can effectively collect and analyze aerial data is in greater demand as drone use spreads across a variety of industries. Drone surveyors play a crucial role in providing accurate topographic information and contributing to projects such as construction, infrastructure development, agriculture, and environmental monitoring.

The field offers exciting opportunities for individuals with a passion for technology and surveying. By acquiring the necessary skills and certifications, staying updated with advancements, and building a strong professional network, you can establish a successful and rewarding career as a drone surveyor.

What are the benefits of using drones for surveying?

Drones offer several advantages for surveying purposes. Firstly, they provide faster and more efficient data collection compared to traditional surveying methods. Drones can cover large areas in a relatively short time, saving both time and resources.

Additionally, drones enable access to difficult or hazardous terrain, reducing risks to surveyors. They also offer high-resolution imagery and 3D modeling capabilities, resulting in more accurate and detailed data. Overall, the use of drones in surveying increases productivity, improves safety, and enhances data quality.

Do I need a pilot’s license to operate a drone for surveying?

Yes, you need to obtain a remote pilot license to fly a drone for commercial use in the United States according to FAA. This certification requires passing the FAA’s Aeronautical Knowledge Test, which covers regulations, airspace, weather, and operational procedures.

The Remote Pilot Certificate ensures that drone operators have the necessary knowledge to operate safely and responsibly. It is essential to comply with FAA regulations to avoid penalties and ensure legal operations.

Can I specialize in a particular industry as a drone surveyor?

Yes, specializing in a particular industry as a drone surveyor is a common practice. Industries such as construction, agriculture, mining, environmental monitoring, and infrastructure development often require specialized knowledge and expertise.

By focusing on a specific industry, you can develop a deep understanding of its unique surveying needs and challenges. This specialization can make you a valuable asset to companies operating within that industry and increase your opportunities for career advancement.

How can I stay updated with the latest developments in drone surveying?

To stay informed about the latest developments in drone surveying, you can follow industry-leading publications, subscribe to relevant newsletters, and join online communities dedicated to drone technology and surveying. Engage in discussions, participate in webinars and conferences, and follow influential experts and organizations on social media platforms.

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