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Posted by on Oct 4, 2016

Drone Jobs: Reality

Drone Jobs: Reality

If you’re reading Drone Coalition you’re probably excited about the future of the drone industry, and you’re curious where career opportunities exist across the industry. Although there are endless opportunities to provide aerial services as a drone operator, I refuse to go that route and this discussion will focus more on “platform” companies (typically Saas) that have the potential to scale globally.

Most of our projects are either free or minimally monetized. This being the case it is challenging for me to avoid falling into the operator trap. Sure it is fun going for broke in the ‘independent drone app’ hustle, but at times you’ll find yourself thinking it would be nice to have a paycheck.

Fortunately the venture capital and private equity cats are riding the same wave of hype as little ‘ole me, resulting in numerous well funded UAS companies around the country. The jobs discussed below are divided into the following categories:

Actual, hypothetical and no thank you opportunities.


a) DroneDeploy – Sales Account Executive

It looks like they’re ramping up sales oriented openings. The team at DroneDeploy is well backed, and they seem to command a fair amount of respect within the industry. I also like their branding. A few friends of friends work with them and they say good things, so I trust DroneDeploy is on track and moving in a positive direction.

b) AirWare – VP Product Management

In the past, as far as I have been aware, AirWare was dead set on owning the hardware. Supporting their own hardware would have made this position less exciting to me because supporting your own set of hardware would create mountains of unnecessary product / customer support. However I’ve heard murmurs that the AirWare camp is turning the corner in the realization that DJI has already checked the hardware box for everybody. AirWare finally opening up to the idea of using off the shelf hardware makes a position like this much more enticing because you have a broad community of support and education already in place.


a) Integration Consulting for companies using ArduPilot

Many drone companies are using ArduPilot as the autopilot in their aircrafts. To ensure proper integration, drone companies either hire one of the freelance devs who contribute to ArduPilot or they have an in-house guy who interfaces with the ArduPilot team. It appears the ArduPilot community which has dedicated legit blood, sweat and tears to developing the most commonly used (non-DJI) autopilot could benefit from a stronger interface with companies…perhaps even call a few of the drone companies on the carpet about this. I imagine a B2B consulting group that acts as an intermediary between ArduPilot and drone companies would benefit as the enterprise continues to adopt UAS. This hypothetical organization would need to be co-founded by some of the original ArduPilot guys, and gophers would support the devs by running around and drumming up corporate activity.

**if DJI releases a fixed-wing, this entire discussion is subject to change.

b) Video Editing Outsource Tool for Recreational Droners

There are many people adopting drones who have little to no prior experience of editing video (I was one of them), and editing video is a pain in the ass. So here’s the offering: you upload your clips to the cloud > select from a few stylistic templates > a cube monkey chops it up for you > you get a link to the edited clip a few hours later. The number of revisions is established based on the pricing tier you select. Many people say this doesn’t make sense because video editing is too stylistic. False. That may the case if you’re really good at this video stuff, but the hoards of new droners just need a quick highlight reel — the stylistic stuff doesn’t matter, this could easily be templated. If you filled in for me in reviewing all drone videos that come into, you would see that the overwhelming majority of editing is nothing fancy or stylistic. I would pay for this service.


a) PrecisionHawk Mid-Senior Level Sales

As I’ve mentioned previously (link to last article), PrecisionHawk is shockingly confused when it comes to maintaining a sustainable business model. They sell massively overpriced hardware, and users tell me the software is often unstable and known to cause extremely hard landings. shows an opening for a Mid-Senior Sales position (are we to believe they’re big enough organizationally to justify a title of ‘Mid-Senior Level’? not buyin it) Appreciate the offer, really, but no thank you.

b) GoPro Aerial Product Lifecycle Manager

The drone-web is going crazy with the launch of GoPro’s Karma and DJI’s response in the Mavic. The market will benefit from a little competition, but I expect it is more hype than realistic competition. We all know who the 1,800 pound gorilla is, and they’re getting heavier by the minute. The lifecycle may be relatively short for Karma so it’s probably a good idea to pass on this one.