15 Things You Didn’t Know About Opportunities in the Drone Industry

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In Rwanda, orders for blood are made online by text or Whatsapp and a small aerial machine ferries it to anywhere in the country. In India, it is now easier to detect mosquito breeding grounds and even deliver fast food to locals via an aerial vehicle. And in the USA if you order an item via Amazon Prime Air, you will have it delivered to you within 30 minutes. These are just a few of the many ways a gadget has changed human lives for the better.

Drones are not only the present; they are the future and there are many opportunities in the drone industry. Those unmanned area vehicles. you sometimes see gracing the skies have more to them than you can imagine. The drone industry is projected to reach 100 billion dollars in 2020 according to research by Goldman Sachs. Just like the Internet and GPS before them, drones are evolving beyond their military origin to become powerful business tools. Now, we will look at the 15 opportunities that you probably didn’t know about in the drone industry.

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1. The Drone Industry Is Expected to Reach $43 Billion by 2024

Drones are revolutionizing the military, emergency services, aerospace, and potentially even the taxi industry. The growth of these unmanned aerial crafts presents new opportunities for the aerospace industry. The global drone market is expected to grow from $14 billion in 2018 to over $43 billion in 2024. Drone use is expected to grow as production costs decrease and the technology behind drones advances.

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2. Drone pilots make a fortune

Being a drone pilot can be one of the easiest ways to earn a high income in 2020.  Most drone pilots work as freelance contractors, flying drones for major companies and small businesses. They use drones for everything from gathering thermal images of the ground to producing 3-D models of buildings. Willingness to travel is an important job requirement. In the USA, drone pilots make as much as $200,000 a year.

3. Big Companies are turning to delivery drones

Delivery drones are to be used to transport food, packages, or goods to your front doorstep. Retailers and grocery companies are turning to drones as a more efficient delivery alternative, instead of relying on delivery drivers with inefficient trucks. These drones can carry an impressive 55 pounds of goods to your front door without you ever having to leave the house. Amazon, Walmart, Google, FedEx, UPS and many other big brands are all currently testing out different versions of delivery drones.

4. There is huge growth potential in Africa

Drones are one area where African countries are proving more accepting and innovative. The commercial drone industry has been slow to start in most other parts of the world. The United States prohibits drone flights that leave the line of sight of a human pilot. In contrast, African countries like Rwanda, Cameroon, Malawi, South Africa, and Kenya are increasingly open to the use of drones in tourism, health services, and e-commerce.  A Cameroonian startup named Will & Brothers recently raised $200,000 to begin assembling and producing within the country parts for drones. In Rwanda, another drone company has plans to build what would be the world’s first civilian “drone port” for commercial deliveries and ferrying health supplies.

5. South Africa is the largest drone market in Africa

South Africa is the largest drone market in Africa. Drones are currently employed there not only in the energy and mining industries, but also in security, agriculture, and even medicine.

6. These are the top three industries benefiting from drone technology in Africa

The three industries that have been the first to benefit from drone technology in Sub-Saharan Africa are mining, agriculture, and healthcare. Drones provide a safe, detailed, inexpensive solution to 3D terrain mapping, volume calculation, and security needs of the mining industry. Drones are increasingly being used to support agricultural activities, as they cannot only aid with mapping but particularly help with improving crop health through spraying and dispensing. And healthcare has benefitted from drones in the most public and well-known way – through medical drone deliveries. 

7. Investments remain high

Investments in the space have totaled close to $3 billion since 2012. The main drivers for these investments include decreasing prices of drone components (e.g., sensors, batteries), the massive commercial market potential, and technological developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics. The industry is brimming with endless potential and thus investors have been willing to pour in endless cash.

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8. Investments are concentrated in China, Israel, and the US

The majority of investments and well-funded startups are concentrated in China, Israel, and the US. However, each country has a different focus on the market. On one hand, China has dominated the consumer market and hardware solutions with Dajiang Innovations (DJI). On the other hand, US companies are focused on developing specific commercial hardware solutions or end-to-end software for commercial applications, and Israel has been at the forefront of military application development. However, the race for advanced commercial solution development has been led by US companies and startups.

9. The fastest growth comes from businesses and civil government

Goldman Sachs estimates that between 2016 and 2020, over $13 billion would be spent by civil government and businesses to put drones in the skies.  This will make this sector the fastest growing. The reason is also not farfetched. For example, an oil and gas company is about to conduct its required monthly pipeline inspection. The company would usually hire a $2,500-an-hour helicopter crew for the job. But now they’re using a drone, way cheaper, faster, and more efficient.

10. Huge opportunity in repairs and training

Drones are fragile devices that are prone to failure and damage. And though prices have declined significantly, most drones are still too expensive to simply throw away. If you are mechanically inclined with knowledge of electronics, drone sales, repair, and customization could be a lucrative business for you. In addition, drones require knowledge and skills to operate them safely, creating a demand for experienced drone instructors. If you have the appropriate UAV skills, experience, and certifications, why not offer your services as a trainer?

11. Selling drones will be lucrative

With all that demand for drones and their parts, someone has to be the retailer and you could make real money off of selling drones. You could do this online, offline, or a hybrid of both. This will make a lucrative business opportunity for entrepreneurs.

12. Opportunities in Filming and Photography

More and more we’re seeing sweeping aerial shots in movies, T.V. shows, and documentaries, and there’s a reason for that—using a drone, producers can now get beautiful aerial shots that previously would have been cost prohibitive because they would have required a helicopter. A drone pilot can put a UAV in the air and get aerial coverage of a location quickly and nimbly, and drones also don’t incur the same kinds of insurance costs as helicopters. This means that there is growing work to be found for drone pilots and videographers in the film industry.

13. Drone in education

Across the U.S. drones are being used in the classroom, from elementary to middle, to high schools, as well as in community and four-year degree colleges. Working with drones in education could mean that you’re a teacher who incorporates drones into classroom activities to help students get excited about STEM subjects, or it could mean that you’re teaching people how to fly and do other things related to UAVs. It could also mean that you start a drone club at your school to help get kids excited about the science behind drones, and about flying.

14. Rapidly expanding market

Created for military purposes, drones have since evolved to more commercial and civil uses. More traditional uses for drones such as business security, surveillance, and monitoring continue to expand, especially in areas where labor costs and crime are on the rise. Almost every industry has room for this technology; from real estate, construction, and mining to public safety, insurance, journalism, agriculture, transportation, energy, telecommunication, and education. Within the Middle East and Africa region, the drone market is predicted to grow from $50 million in 2019 to $632 million by 2025; over 10 times of growth.

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15. You don’t need a university degree to take advantage

Although many universities now offer a bachelor’s degree in UAS operations, you don’t need a university degree to become a drone pilot. Instead of spending 4 to 5 years learning to fly a drone, there are certificate programs available for a shorter period that prepare you for the drone pilot market. For instance, Malawi has initiated Africa’s first drone training academy in partnership with UNICEF; a 12-week course. However, you’ll need a license to fly a drone for commercial purposes in most countries.

Although drones are relatively new technology, their usage and popularity have exploded over the past decade. As the issues and concerns regarding drones are resolved, the opportunities for further drone usage may prove to be limitless. What do you think about the fast-growing drone industry? Where do you see the most opportunities? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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  • Ikenna Odinaka C. is a Writer, Career Development Professional, Entrepreneur, Educator and Investor. He is the founder of AfterschoolAfrica.com, AfterSchoolMedia.com and Edxtra.com. He has also co-founded other businesses in Education, technology and media industry. He is passionate about the future of work, entrepreneurship and helping young people explore opportunities to develop their financial capability. You can read his best content on AfterSchoolMedia.com and watch his insightful videos on YouTube