The rapid advancement of drone technology has transformed various industries, including drone surveying, by offering more efficient, cost-effective, and precise methods for data collection. Drone surveying has become increasingly popular in sectors such as construction, agriculture, and environmental monitoring.
As a result, there is a growing demand for skilled drone surveyors in the UK.
This comprehensive guide will provide you with essential information on how to become a drone surveyor in the UK, including the required qualifications, skills, certifications, and practical tips for a successful career in this dynamic field.
What Does A Drone Surveyor Do?
Drone surveyors are responsible for planning and conducting drone flights, maintaining and troubleshooting drone equipment, processing and analysing the collected data, and interpreting the results for clients or stakeholders.
They often work in multidisciplinary teams, collaborating with engineers, architects, environmental scientists, and other professionals to provide valuable insights for project planning, decision-making, and reporting.
Benefits of becoming a Drone Surveyor
There are numerous benefits to becoming a drone surveyor, both personal and professional. Here are some of the key advantages of pursuing a career in this field:
- Exciting and Innovative: Drone surveying is a relatively new field that is constantly evolving, which means that there are always new and exciting developments to look forward to. As a drone surveyor, you will have the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology and push the boundaries of what is possible in the field of surveying.
- High-Demand: There is a growing demand for drone surveyors in the UK, particularly in the construction, mining, and agriculture industries. This means that there are plenty of job opportunities available for those with the necessary skills and qualifications.
- Cost-Effective: Drone surveying is often more cost-effective than traditional surveying methods, as it can be completed more quickly and with fewer resources. This means that companies are often willing to pay a premium for the services of a skilled drone surveyor.
- Versatile: Drones can be used to survey a wide range of environments, from urban areas to remote wilderness areas. This means that there are plenty of opportunities to work in different locations and to gain experience in a variety of different settings.
- Flexibility: Many drone surveyors work as freelancers or are self-employed, which means that they have the freedom to choose their own working hours and take on projects that interest them.
Overall, becoming a drone surveyor can be a rewarding and lucrative career choice, with plenty of opportunities for growth and development.
How to Become a Drone Surveyor in the UK
Here are 5 concise steps to guide you on your journey to becoming a successful drone surveyor in the UK.
- Research the drone surveying industry in the UK to understand its requirements and job opportunities.
- Obtain a CAA-approved drone pilot license by completing the required training and passing the examination.
- Gain practical experience by working on projects or interning with established drone surveying companies.
- Familiarise yourself with relevant software and mapping techniques commonly used in the industry.
- Network with professionals, attend industry events, and apply for drone surveyor positions to secure a job in the field.
Skills Needed To Become A Drone Surveyor
Required Skills and Knowledge to become A Drone Surveyor
To become a successful drone surveyor in the UK, you need a to obtain a combination of technical, analytical, and soft skills, including:
- Drone operation and maintenance
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing
- Data processing, analysis, and interpretation
- Communication and teamwork
- Attention to detail and problem-solving abilities
Eager to master these skills and kick-start your career as a drone surveyor? Read on to discover the essential steps and resources to help you excel in each of these fields.
Drone operation and maintenance
- Piloting skills: Mastering the art of drone piloting, including manual and automated flight modes, is crucial for conducting accurate and efficient surveys.
- Drone maintenance: Develop an understanding of routine maintenance, troubleshooting, and repairs to ensure the longevity and reliability of your equipment.
- Safety protocols: Familiarize yourself with the safety procedures and best practices for drone operations, including pre-flight checks, airspace regulations, and emergency response plans.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing
- GIS software proficiency: Acquire hands-on experience with industry-standard GIS software, such as ArcGIS or QGIS, for spatial data management, analysis, and visualization.
- Remote sensing techniques: Understand the principles of remote sensing, including the use of different sensor types, image processing, and interpretation.
- Geospatial data formats: Become familiar with various geospatial data formats, such as vector, raster, and point cloud data, and their applications in drone surveying.
Data processing, analysis, and interpretation
- Photogrammetry: Learn the process of generating accurate 3D models, orthophotos, and digital elevation models (DEMs) from drone imagery.
- LiDAR processing: Acquire skills in processing and analyzing LiDAR data, including point cloud classification, filtering, and feature extraction.
- Data interpretation: Develop the ability to interpret and draw meaningful insights from geospatial data, such as identifying patterns, trends, and anomalies.
Communication and teamwork
- Technical communication: Enhance your ability to communicate technical concepts and findings to clients, colleagues, and stakeholders in a clear and concise manner.
- Team collaboration: Develop strong collaboration skills for working effectively with multidisciplinary teams, including engineers, planners, and environmental scientists.
- Project management: Gain experience in managing drone surveying projects, including planning, budgeting, scheduling, and quality control.
Attention to detail and problem-solving abilities
- Accuracy and precision: Cultivate a keen eye for detail to ensure the highest quality of data and deliverables in your drone surveying work.
- Adaptability: Develop the ability to adapt to unexpected challenges or changes in project requirements, such as weather conditions, equipment malfunctions, or regulatory updates.
- Critical thinking: Strengthen your problem-solving skills for tackling complex issues, such as identifying the most suitable surveying techniques or optimizing flight plans for specific project objectives.
Drone Academic Courses
|Course Name||Institution||Duration||Format||Qualification||Tuition Fee|
|Introduction to Drone Surveying Level 3||Wolverhampton College||Part-time||On-campus||Level 3||Not stated|
|Unmanned Aircraft System Technology||Wrexham Glyndwr University||1 year (full-time)||On-campus||MSc||£5,940|
|UAV Remote Sensing, Monitoring, and Mapping||University of Aberdeen||11 weeks||Online||Postgraduate||£1,410|
The United Kingdom offers various academic courses that teach you the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in this field.
Here, we have compiled a list of some of the top drone surveyor courses in the UK:
Introduction to Drone Surveying Level 3 – Wolverhampton College
Located at the Wellington Road Campus, this part-time course provides a comprehensive introduction to drone surveying. To access this course, you must have at least four GCSEs at grade C or above or have several years of experience in the industry. The course covers topics such as optics, electromagnetic waves, laser technology, and GPS technology used in surveying. The assessment consists of assignments and practical elements, with no exams involved.
Course Code: Q2473
Start Date: 23/01/2023
Unmanned Aircraft System Technology – Wrexham Glyndwr University, School of Science and Technology
This course is available for full-time study over one year or part-time study over two years. It offers a unique opportunity to build and keep your own drone while learning to fly and operate it safely. Field trips, access to the University’s advanced facilities, and participation in the IMechE UAS Challenge are some of the course features. To be eligible, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject or equivalent qualifications.
Tuition Fee: £5940
UAV Remote Sensing, Monitoring, and Mapping – University of Aberdeen
This 11-week online postgraduate course allows you to learn about UAV remote sensing, digital mapping, image processing, and softcopy photogrammetry from the comfort of your home. With a time commitment of 10-15 hours per week, you’ll gain skills in aerial photography, drones/UAVs, photointerpretation, satellite remote sensing, digital image processing, and softcopy photogrammetry. This course has no formal entry requirements, but it is delivered at the Masters level.
Start Dates: 18 September 2023, 22 January 2024
These courses offer a great opportunity for aspiring drone surveyors to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their careers. Whether you prefer a hands-on approach or the flexibility of online learning, there is a course that suits your needs. Don’t miss out on the chance to gain expertise in this exciting field and advance your career.
GIS and Remote Sensing
A strong foundation in GIS and remote sensing is essential for drone surveyors. Many universities and colleges in the UK offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in these subjects, often as part of geography, environmental science, or engineering programs.
Look for courses that cover topics such as:
- Spatial analysis: Learn how to process, analyze, and visualize spatial data, including techniques for interpolation, buffer analysis, and raster algebra.
- Cartography: Understand the principles of map design, symbology, and layout, as well as the creation of interactive web maps and 3D visualizations.
- Geospatial data management: Acquire skills in organizing, storing, and managing geospatial datasets, including proficiency in GIS software and database systems.
- Remote sensing principles: Study the fundamentals of remote sensing, including the electromagnetic spectrum, sensor types, and image processing techniques.
- Photogrammetry: Learn how to extract three-dimensional information from aerial images and create accurate digital elevation models (DEMs) and orthophotos.
Drone Technology and Operation
You can also take courses specifically focused on drone technology and operation.
These courses typically cover topics such as:
- Drone mechanics: Understand the basic components of drones, including airframes, propulsion systems, and flight controllers.
- Flight dynamics: Learn the principles of drone flight, including aerodynamics, stability, and control.
- Sensor integration: Study the various sensors used in drone surveying, such as cameras, LiDAR, and multispectral sensors, as well as their integration with drone systems.
- Data acquisition: Master the techniques for planning and executing drone surveys, including flight planning, ground control point (GCP) placement, and data collection protocols.
- Post-processing and analysis: Acquire skills in processing and analyzing drone-derived data, including photogrammetric processing, point cloud generation, and GIS integration.
Some educational institutions may offer specialised programs in drone surveying, combining GIS, remote sensing, and drone operation training. These programs can provide a comprehensive education tailored to the needs of aspiring drone surveyors, covering industry-specific topics such as:
- Surveying principles: Learn the fundamentals of surveying, including coordinate systems, datums, and map projections, as well as traditional surveying techniques.
- Legal and ethical considerations: Understand the legal requirements and ethical considerations related to drone operations, including privacy, safety, and environmental concerns.
- Industry applications: Study the various applications of drone surveying in sectors such as construction, agriculture, mining, and environmental monitoring, with hands-on case studies and practical examples.
By focusing on these essential skills and knowledge areas, you can build a strong foundation for a successful career as a drone surveyor in the UK. Continuous learning and hands-on experience will further enhance your expertise and marketability in the rapidly evolving drone surveying industry.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requires commercial drone pilots to hold a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) or a General
Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC). These certifications ensure that drone pilots understand the regulations and safety protocols necessary for conducting commercial operations. Training providers offer PfCO and GVC courses that cover topics such as UK aviation law, airspace restrictions, and risk assessment.
A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC)
The A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC) is another certification that drone pilots can pursue. This certification allows you to operate drones in a wider range of environments and situations, including flying closer to people and buildings. Obtaining an A2 CofC requires completing a CAA-approved training course and passing an examination.
Internships and Volunteering
Internships and volunteering opportunities can provide valuable hands-on experience and help you build a professional network in the drone surveying industry. Look for opportunities with surveying companies, engineering firms, or government agencies that use drone technology. Volunteering for environmental or conservation organisations can also offer practical experience in drone surveying and GIS applications.
Networking is crucial for building a successful career in drone surveying. Attend industry conferences, workshops, and local meetups to meet professionals and stay updated on the latest trends and technologies. Joining professional associations and online forums can also help you connect with like-minded individuals and expand your network.
Legal Requirements and Insurance
Permissions and Licenses
As a drone surveyor in the UK, you must comply with CAA regulations and obtain the necessary permissions and licenses for your drone operations. Depending on the type and complexity of your drone surveys, you may need a PfCO, GVC, or A2 CofC, as mentioned earlier. Ensure that you understand and follow the applicable rules and restrictions for flying drones in the UK.
Drone surveyors should also obtain appropriate insurance coverage to protect themselves and their clients from potential risks and liabilities. The CAA requires commercial drone operators to have a minimum of £1 million in public liability insurance.
You may also want to consider additional coverage for equipment and professional indemnity.
Building a Successful Drone Surveyor Career
Market Trends and Opportunities
The drone surveying market is rapidly expanding, with new applications and technologies emerging regularly. Stay informed about industry trends, such as advancements in drone hardware, software, and sensor technology, to ensure your skills remain relevant and competitive.
As a drone surveyor, you can explore opportunities in various sectors, including construction, agriculture, mining, environmental monitoring, and disaster management.
Tips for Success
To build a successful career as a drone surveyor in the UK, consider the following tips:
- Invest in continuous learning: Stay updated on the latest tools, techniques, and regulations in drone surveying by attending workshops, webinars, and industry events.
- Develop a professional portfolio: Showcase your skills and experience through a comprehensive portfolio that includes examples of your drone surveying work, GIS projects, and other relevant accomplishments.
- Market yourself: Leverage social media, networking events, and industry connections to promote your services and attract potential clients.
- Specialize: Consider specializing in a niche area, such as precision agriculture or construction, to differentiate yourself from competitors and increase your market value.
Becoming a drone surveyor in the UK requires a combination of education, training, and hands-on experience. By obtaining the necessary certifications, developing your skills, and staying informed about industry trends, you can build a rewarding career in this rapidly growing field. Remember to comply with legal requirements, obtain appropriate insurance coverage, and continuously refine your expertise to ensure long-term success in the drone surveying industry.
- What qualifications do I need to become a drone surveyor? To become a drone surveyor, you need a combination of academic qualifications in GIS and remote sensing, drone operation training, and industry certifications, such as GVC, or A2 CofC.
- How do I gain experience in drone surveying? Gaining experience in drone surveying can be achieved through internships, volunteering opportunities, and networking with professionals in the industry. These experiences can help you build a professional network and develop practical skills.
- Do I need any special licenses or permissions to operate drones for surveying in the UK? Yes, you need to obtain the necessary permissions and licenses from the CAA, such as GVC, or A2 CofC, depending on the type and complexity of your drone operations.
- What are some tips for success in the drone surveying industry? To succeed in the drone surveying industry, invest in continuous learning, develop a professional portfolio, market yourself effectively, and consider specializing in a niche area.
- What are the potential job opportunities for drone surveyors? Drone surveyors can find job opportunities in various sectors, such as construction, agriculture, mining, environmental monitoring, and disaster management. They can work with surveying companies, engineering firms, government agencies, and environmental or conservation organisation’s.