How Much to Charge for use of Drone by my Company


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Sorry, I'm more piggy-backing than giving actual advice, but I'm a teacher and attended a multi-day conference. This is what what one of the speakers said about rates. I'm interested to know how accurate they are from folks in the field.

    • Employment - Pilot with  less than 1 year experience - $75-$100/hour

      • Industries - houses, weddings, small business promo videos, photogrammetry analysis

    • 1-2 years’ experience - $100-160/hour

    • 3 years’ experience - $160-$250/hour

      • DJI Inspire Drone - high end assets (bridges, etc), high-end corporate videos, cinematography, survey mapping

    • 3+ years’ experience - $250-$400

      • Inspire, M or Sensefly ebee

      • TV/Films, acquiring data for 3d models, orthomosaic maps of structures, NDVI scans of crops, mapping forestry or mines

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Fair rate is always difficult to quantify on a message board such as this since it's affected by so many elements like location, usage, complexity of the flight, time of flight, size of the project, image licensing, et cetera.  

For example what I can realistically charge for a project like you describe where I live (S. Wyoming) goes up significantly if I drive an hour to the south into the Denver metro area.  It goes up even higher if the location is remote and in the middle of nowhere.  So while I've done jobs like you describe, my rate has been anywhere from $200 to $2500 depending on a variety of project considerations.  

Ultimately only you can determine what is fair, but these are some of the things you should think about when coming up with a price quote; of course this list is not all inclusive:

  1. How large is the project site?
  2. Your level of experience and training
  3. How many photos will you be expected to deliver?
  4. Will the photos need editing after you've shot them?
  5. What is the level of risk in flying the mission? (high risk = more pay)
  6. What are your costs?  (Drone, insurance, training, etc)
  7. Travel associated with the project 
  8. What is the deliverable method?  Dropbox?  USB stick?
  9. What is the expected project turnaround time?
  10. What are the licensing requirements of your client?
  11. How long will it take you to get the required shot list?
  12. Can this shoot be a package deal?  All sites for the clients should equate to a lower cost.
  13. What is the client going to do with the photos once you've delivered?
  14. Is the work taxable in your state? (in WY construction monitoring is not)

These are just a few price-affecting factors off the top of my head and I'm certain I'm missing things.  

Sorry I'm not giving you a specific dollar figure which I realize is all you want, but these elements I've listed above create the defensibility you're looking for if your client challenges you on price.  

Finally, as always with this type of relatively simple drone operation, you may be undercut by your 18-year old neighbor with his new Mavic Mini or some lowballer on Thumbtack.  Don't get suckered into that game and don't feel bad about walking away if the pay isn't worth the effort.  

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