When all your hard work pays off, and you earn your Part 107, what's next? Well, you have a few decisions to make regarding what you plan to do with your new certification. One of your first considerations is whether you want to work for yourself or someone else.
As a commercial drone pilot, you have the freedom to start your own business, join an existing team, or build a hybrid of the two. Each path has its pros and cons. For those just starting their journey, let's discuss a few of them. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you'll have a better idea of which option is best for you.
It should be noted that there is no correct answer to this question. It really comes down to personal preference and what will bring you the most happiness. Personally, I have enjoyed being my own boss since getting my Part 107 in 2017. I wouldn't have it any other way. But that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with flying for someone else. Many pilots do this and reap the rewards of working for larger companies. The choice is yours. So, let's make that choice an informed one.
Who's The Boss?
When you decide to work for yourself, you call all the shots. You get to decide what work you will do and what compensation you are willing to do it for. Most people identify this benefit when asked why they like working for themselves.
In addition to choosing the work you want; you also get to make your schedule. Perhaps you only want to work on the weekends. Maybe you only want to make a certain amount of money monthly and then relax until the next month. Whatever you decide is alright when you are in charge.
The downside of being your own boss is everything is on you. You need to find the work, do the job, get paid, address problems, talk to upset clients, and explain why it's not legal to fly down the middle of the runway at LAX international airport.
Additionally, you are responsible for the business's taxes, insurance, equipment, and other expenses. Many of these expenses don't stop, even during a bad month.
In March 2020, when COVID kicked off, my drone service company only made $250 during the entire month. Thankfully, our services kicked back up the following month, but it still adds a bit of pressure when you are responsible for the entire operation.
Become Part Of A Team
If you want to get paid for your work as a UAV pilot and not worry about the rest, joining a team is the best path for you.
When you join a company, one of the most significant benefits is all the perks. Medical, dental, vacation, sick leave, and maybe stock options are typically part of the deal. This is very attractive to some pilots. It is also nice when there is a paycheck, even during tight months. It can make your drone flying very stress-free.
What makes working for someone else a potential drag are the limits you will likely have. You don't choose your hours, the type of work you do is decided mainly for you, and there is all the extra stuff you have to do, like training outside of flying your drone and corporate events.
Two Worlds Come Together
I haven't come across it often, I suspect because it is difficult to juggle two things at once, but some pilots work for a company and themselves. In this case, you gain the benefits of both being your own boss and having the protection of working for a larger organization.
In the hybrid model, many of the cons are eliminated. You also gain most of the benefits. The only downside is the amount of time you need to commit to working. Given that most flying is done during the day, you’ll probably need to work weekends. It doesn’t leave too much time for having a life.
So, there are pluses and minuses to each decision. For me, the clear choice is to be my own boss. What’s your choice?
Article Written by David Daly