The number of drones in the general populace continues to increase every year, meaning that there is an increasing number of drones experiencing crashes, or simply getting old and needing repairs for various reasons. While this isn’t what you ever hope for as a drone pilot, it’s good news for those looking to make a career as a drone technician. But how do you become a drone repair technician?
To become a drone repair technician, you first have to earn a certificate from an FAA-accredited school, or else meet a required number of hours of hands-on experience. Then you need to pass a series of written, oral and practical tests to become certified as a drone repair technician.
Even though you may be able to learn how to repair a drone on your own, you have to have a little bit of formal accreditation in order to start charging for your repair services. In order to get this, you’ll have to put in the time to study and then pass the certification exams to be able to have a career as a drone repair technician.
I’m sure you’re wondering, and you may be surprised to know that drone repair technicians can earn quite a comfortable living. That makes this career enticing to those who may want to take advantage of this booming industry. Let’s look at what’s involved in a career as a drone repair technician.
What does a drone repair technician do?
The drone industry is continuously improving in terms of technology, and more and more people are using drones for both recreation and for commercial purposes. In fact, there are nearly 900,000 registered drones in the US. And if you add the number of drones that are not required to be registered, the total number may in fact exceed a million.
With so many drones around, and with that number continually growing, there is a need for people who know how to repair drones. That’s because drones, due to their very nature as gadgets that are continually exposed to external factors that can damage them (such as weather conditions, debris, or crashes), may regularly need certain repair jobs. With this high level of demand, now is a great time to look at a career as a drone repair technician.
But first, you probably want to know what exactly a drone repair technician does.
Drone technicians are responsible for repairing UAVs or UASs, which usually both fall under the catch-all term “drone”. Drones that have experienced damage or other malfunctions are brought to the technicians by private individuals or employers or companies so that the technician can find the best way to repair them. A drone technician will generally have access to the best equipment up-to-date, and will usually have the skills and knowledge to make the needed repairs depending on the type of repairs that need to be done and on the type of drone.
The drone technician is also responsible for testing the systems of the drone to see if it is working the way it should after the repair job is finished. Of course, any additional parts that need to be ordered to repair the drone will also be under the supervision of the drone repair technician, so a technician will need to have extensive knowledge of all the parts and inner workings of a drone.
And because new drones are being released almost every year, drone repair technicians have to continue to learn more about the developments in the drone industry. In order to keep up with new developments, they need to have ongoing education and stay in touch with how to repair the newest types of drones and the systems that come with such drones.
Even though we’re talking about repair technicians, there’s more to the story when it comes to drone technicians. There’s also the whole field of experts who are developing and creating new and improved drones. In many ways, it’s closely related, so if you’re interested in the making and fixing of drones, you could consider either avenue as a career.
What’s it like to be a drone repair technician?
For starters, drone repair technicians could be self-employed, offering their repair services as an independent business. However, it’s much more common for a drone repair technician to be employed with a larger repair business, or even to work in-house with a drone company.
For a technician working as part of a repair service business, you would be responsible for knowing how to repair and maintain drones that are designed by engineers and produced by different manufacturing companies. You would need to be able to problem-solve and possibly collaborate with other technicians to figure out how to fix any issues with a drone that comes in for repairs.
Technicians working in-house with a company also need to have extensive knowledge, but usually for a smaller pool of drone models, just being responsible for the drones that are part of that company’s fleet of drones. They conduct regular maintenance and repair work on drones that are owned by the company using drones for commercial or industrial purposes.
In some cases, drone repair technicians are also responsible for educating people on what they can do in relation to the abilities of a drone. For example, drone technicians can create simulation exercises that will allow the drone pilots to train and learn how to use the drones in certain emergency situations or fieldwork for commercial or industrial purposes.
Drone technicians also will often need to be able to describe and explain to drone pilots what a particular issue is with their drone, or how to best care for and maintain their drone. This means that the drone technician should be able to explain their work in layman’s terms for others to easily understand.
How much do drone technicians earn?
If you’re considering a career as a drone repair technician, I’m sure you’re interested in knowing how much drone technicians earn.
On average, drone technicians can earn an annual salary of $56,320, or about $27 an hour. The salary you can expect to earn ranges from $41,600 to $84,520 per year, or $20 to $41 per hour (source).
While you’re probably never going to get rich as a drone repair technician, it can certainly earn you a comfortable living.
How to become a drone technician
If you are convinced that you want to try your hand at becoming a drone technician, let’s look at how you can become one.
Given all that’s required in this job, becoming a drone repair technician isn’t as easy as learning how to repair a drone yourself. In fact, the steps that you need to take to become a drone technician are similar to the process of becoming an aircraft mechanic.
There is no specific college degree that you need to earn in order to become a drone repair technician. Instead, you need to earn a certification in aviation maintenance from a school that’s accredited by the FAA, the government body that oversees all aircraft, including drones and their pilots. This certification process can take a few years or so depending on the school.
If formal classroom learning isn’t your style, however, there’s no need for you to go to school because you can substitute formal classroom education with practical on-the-job experience.
As long as you have completed high school, you will be able to apply for an FAA repairman’s certificate and do entry-level jobs under qualified drone repair technicians. You will have to complete the required number of hours working in specific fields to be able to move on with your career path.
When you have completed your formal classroom education or the required number of hours working as an assistant under a drone repair technician, you then need to take three FAA exams. These exams are written, oral, and practical. You have to pass all three exams to be able to earn your FAA certification and work as a drone repair technician.
In some cases, people choose to pursue computer-related bachelor’s degree studies before they continue on with a career as a drone technician. This is because a lot of the work that’s related to drones is computer-related. That could also be a good career path for you to follow if you can afford to go to college and earn a computer-related degree.