The drone industry is growing fast. AUVSI’s 2016 economic report estimates that the industry will provide over 100,000 jobs by 2025, with an economic impact of over $80 billion. Since Part 107 was enacted last year, thousands of companies are realizing the benefits of drone technologies.
If you’re a working professional ready to make a move into a new, growth-oriented industry, drones might be for you. Here are 3 ways to kickstart your career.
The number one thing that you can do to kickstart your career is to get the right training. While internet training programs for drones abound, education from a well-respected and recognized institution is worth the investment. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll have to take a work sabbatical and become a full-time student. Programs like Embry-Riddle’s Aeronautical University-Worldwide, Office of Professional Education provide flexible programs designed specifically for working professionals and have been expanding their offerings in the drone industry.
Embry-Riddle is an institution with a global reputation; their classes have instantly recognized value for current and potential employers. They began offering UAS workshops globally in 2014, and have since introduced new materials including an Online Professional Program in sUAS, Online sUAS Part 107 Ground School and Online Global UAS Risk Management courses.
#2. Expand Your Circle
A great career in the drone industry doesn’t mean only working for a drone manufacturer or services provider. As the industry grows and commercial adoption increases, careers in drones stretch across industries: from government and law enforcement work to construction, energy, agriculture and insurance. It’s important not only to receive the right training, but to meet the right people.
Leverage the expertise you may already have in your current job, and look for the opportunities in that sector. Meet contacts at one of the many commercial drone tradeshows, or participate in an online forum for drone professionals.
Here’s where a good training program continues to pay off, too: quality professional education draws in people from a wide range of fields. Gary Burke, Director at Embry-Riddle’s Office of Professional Education, says that their programs bring in participants from many different industries. “Embry Riddle’s pro-ed department attracts high caliber students from all over the world – and all of them have something to contribute. People with all types of backgrounds and jobs, from military to enterprise, increasing their skill sets and moving ahead professionally.” Try to choose a program that allows you to interact with other students – the contacts are part of the value you receive.
#3. Get Certified
It’s worth the effort to get a certification in an area you want to pursue. While drone pilots need a Part 107 certificate from the FAA to work, many others in the drone industry can benefit from receiving a certificate from a known institution. For professionals, a certificate in sUAS indicating completion of a significant program can prove your investment in continuing education. And a Part 107 certificate can be enhanced with ground school training and a Small UAS Safety Certificate.
With so much opportunity for high-level, high-paying jobs in the industry, taking the time to plan your career trajectory can really pay off. Figure out where your talents lie in the drone industry – and then start planning today for your next promotion.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com