Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 10:14 am GMT -6 Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 10:14 am GMT -6Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 10:14 am GMT -6
UAV MQ-9 Reaper

Interested in becoming a professional UAV pilot?




Job Outlook

UAVs are currently a $10 billion industry. Predictions are that it will be a $51 billion industry by 2018 and an $80 billion industry by 2020. Right now, UAV pilots typically earn between $30,000 and $70,000 depending on experience. Demand for UAV pilots is expected to explode in 2015 when the FAA opens up the national airspace to personal and commercial UAV applications. Intrigued?

Training Required

Larger UAVs are viewed by the FAA the same as manned aircraft. The Predator and Global Hawk are military examples of these larger UAV airplanes. Large UAVs generally require commercial pilot’s licenses with instrument ratings.

Smaller UAVs have more relaxed requirements. Below are links to two FAA documents aimed at clarifying their guidelines. The rules and guidelines will become much clearer over the next couple of years.

Schools specializing in UAV pilot training are beginning to crop up. I have listed the two schools in the United States that are currently training UAV pilots below. Note that neither of these schools are FAA certified AUV flight training centers today. But they are hoping to receive their certification within the next year.

Unmanned Vehicle University

Unmanned Vehicle University is the first university in the world dedicated to higher education in Unmanned Air, Ground and Sea Systems. MS and PhD degrees are offered in Unmanned Systems Engineering as a totally online curriculum. The school also offers technical training in Unmanned systems though Online Executive Certificate Courses and 3 day short courses. Courses are offered in English, Greek, German, Italian and Spanish.

University North Dakota – UAS Operations

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations curriculum is offered to those students whose career objectives are aimed at the civil unmanned aircraft systems industry. The program provides the breadth and depth of instruction needed to ensure graduates are prepared to work as pilots/operators and/or developmental team members of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) while fully understanding the operational and safety environments of the National Airspace System. A commercial pilot license, with instrument and multiengine ratings are prerequisites for this training program.

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