Essential Qualifications/ certificates for commercial work

Hi, Can anyone please offer advice on the best way to gain accreditation for Commercial work . I am aware of the need for the PCfO ,and am already registered with CAA as a recreational user. Are their recommended routes/ training/ courses that in addition to a commercial operations licence, that I should consider? Thank you in advance.

If you do your PfCO before January then it will carry forward in to the new regulations in 2021. If you don’t intend on doing the PfCO this year then you will need to do either or both of the A2CoC and GVC.

It depends on what it is you want to do. Simply getting a PfCO and completing additional courses won’t make you a drone professional.

There is no such thing as a drone business, look at your skills and see how the drone will enhance what you can offer.

Many will try sell you courses on a sales pitch that you will have a successful business afterwards, but be careful as that is not always true.


I agree very much with @tchambers - I work with “drone businesses” in my professional life but they are actually survey businesses (who use drones for part of their work) or photography businesses (ditto).

I look for the whole service, it’s no good to me having someone who can photograph a building from above but not take quality photos at ground level as well; and for surveys I’m not interested in integrating an aerial photogrammetric survey with a traditional topographical or laser-scan survey, I look for a firm that can integrate them for me. Sometimes those firms to sub-contract to specialist drone pilots, but based on their technical capabilities to deliver the right end-product, not just on how well they can fly a drone.

Thanks for your thoughtful and very informative reply. I also do a lot of photography with conventional cameras, and use the Fuji X T system . Videography is another specialism I enjoy, so my general photography skill set would appear be useful in terms of what you have illustrated as being your own requirements in this regard .

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Thanks for your helpful response . I am a seasoned photographer in the more rounded sense and see Drone photography as combining an unfulfilled passion for aviation and my love of photography. So you have assisted in encouraging me to see the need to use Drone photography as an arrow in my quiver so to speak, as opposed to the bow string. Thanks again.

The other aspect is “having a business.” It helps if you already have a business you can add drone work to.

I’ve recently got my PfCO and am developing a drone business in a particular industrial niche… but note the drone work is an addition to my existing business, expanding on services I already offer.

There’s quite a lot of investment cost if you’re serious about it. My existing business covered that, along with the initial loss-making case work and marketing areas. I also have a bunch of existing customers to up-sell to. I did my market research and business case thoroughly to the point where existing customers are working with me on it. Even so, I don’t expect the drone side of the business to properly wash its face for 12 months, and what proportion of my turnover it becomes remains to be seen.

You need to think of the business concept, who will you sell to- B2B or the public? If B2B, do you need to be a VAT-registered Limited Company before potential customers even look at you? Have you worked out how to get a business bank account (at the moment most banks have stopped opening business accounts)? Have you got enough cash to work for organisations that pay at “90 days from the last day of the month in which the invoice was submitted?” (non particularly unusual).

What I am getting at is that the technical skills are only part of it. The business admin side is also a big part of a successful commercial enterprise. I have run my own business nearly 4 years now since I was made redundant, and it’s not easy to get going and turn a steady profit.

Maybe you want to dabble and sell a few photos as a side hussle? But if so, do you really need to hold a PfCO given the changes coming in January?

As others have said, it’s not just about passing the course. If you have a business you can add commercial drone work to you’ll no doubt recognise what I’ve just written, if not I suggest you get some advice about starting a business. It’s a lot more difficult than the courses make it sound and unless you have a clear idea of what you will be doing and the market you will be sellling into (and your USP, and a market not already saturated) then you’ll need deep pockets.

Finally- I’m not trying to pour cold water on your idea, just highlight the other bits of reality. Doing business admin is (necessary) a chore and never becomes easier, I always suggest getting a decent accountant if you want to set up a business, I waited until I’d been doing 9 months before I did that and in hindsight would have made life much easier if I’d done so first.