Colleges across the country are starting to offer UAV piloting programs in anticipation of the coming drone boom. NBC News writes:
Randal Franzen was 53, unemployed and nearly broke when his brother, a tool mentioned that pilots for remotely piloted aircraft – more commonly known as drones – were in high demand. He landed at Kansas State, and graduated in 2011 with with an offer “well into the six figures” as a flight operator for a military contractor in Afghanistan.
While most jobs flying drones currently are military-related, the FAA predicts that 10,000 commercial drones will be operating in the U.S. within five years. At the moment, 358 public institutions – including 14 universities and colleges – have permits from the FAA to fly unmanned aircraft. Among the possible applications: Monitoring livestock and oil pipelines, spotting animal poachers, tracking down criminals fleeing crime scenes and delivering packages for UPS and FedEx.
Although just three schools – Kansas State University, the University of North Dakota and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University — currently offer degrees in piloting unmanned aircraft, many others offer training for remote pilots. And those numbers are set to increase, with some aviation industry analysts predicting drones will eventually come to dominate the U.S. skies in terms of jobs.