Get A Drone Degree, Make $100,000
Looking for a job with a future? Here's a single word for you: drones. Unmanned aircraft have become a regular tool for the military and are now spreading like wildfire though the commercial world. Even Amazon.com is experimenting with drone delivery, as CBS News reported.
For all the questions about safety and privacy that have arisen, there are also new opportunities. Not only do engineers have to design the devices and companies manufacture them, but someone has to fly each drone. And a degree in drones could be worth $100,000 a year, according to MarketWatch.
There will be more than 100,000 new jobs created nationally by 2025 with an economic impact of $82 billion over that period, according to a 2013 report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a coalition of 7,000 individuals and 600 corporations. "States that create favorable regulatory and business environments for the industry and the technology will likely siphon jobs away from states that do not," the report found.
The opportunities are in manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, computer science, commercial contracting, and even film. Just a little problem: Having unmanned devices flit through the air has already caused some consternation. Beyond concern over peering electronic eyes everywhere, people are concerned about the craft falling out of the sky and hitting them.
The worries are grounded in examples, like the drone that crashed into a crowd in Virginia in August 2013, as WTVR-TV reported, or the drone crash that got someone banned from Yellowstone National Park in September 2014, according to KUSA-TV.
Even military-trained pilots can find controlling drones challenging, as audio recordings of operators losing control shows in a Washington Post report. Here's one example from 2013 crash near Creech Air Force Base in Nevada: "This thing's kind of climbing like a pig. Climb, you pig. . . . Boy, this is going to be tight. . . . Okay, interesting. We are falling out of the sky."
Things are bad enough that the Federal Aviation Administration is ready to restrict operation of drones and require commercial operators to have licenses, according to Time.
Queue the drone degree program. Dozens of universities either already have or are planning drone programs, according to MarketWatch. There is even a school called Unmanned Vehicle University, where you can get a graduate degree in unmanned systems engineering or a pilot training certificate. The institution's president, Jerry Lemieux, said that a recent graduate became a specialty analyst at an aviation manufacturing company and pulls down $100,000 a year.
Will that type of salary become the norm? No way to tell, but anyone who can pass the parallel parking test on the first try should be able to get what they demand.