The UAV industry is rapidly growing, with a predicted 100,000 new jobs related to UAVs expected to flood the job market in the next few years, such as cinematography, aerial photography to mapping and modelling. There are also jobs opening in UAV operators and pilots and engineers too. Drone development and manufacturing are growing fields as well. These types of positions will clearly require some education in relevant fields like aeronautical engineering, robotics, mechanical engineering. Experience is of course always a bonus, but you could start out as an intern and work from there. Pursuing a career with drone producers will obviously require key skills in STEM. The commercial drone industry is global, but obviously there are stand out countries, the US being the biggest closely followed by France and the UK, and then Germany and Switzerland.
Skills & Qualifications
Drone flying is a skill and requires a certificate so you can legally be allowed to fly drones, and CAA approved courses can cost up to £1000 with the following requirements. Applicants must be over 18, have their own drone which they will be assessed on, and have a minimum of 2 logged hours of flight time within the past 3 months.
Drone companies look for Aerospace Software Engineering as well as Aeronautical Engineers. Big companies like Rolls Royce and BAE systems have apprentice schemes in Aerospace Software Engineering, which is a good way to get hands on with the Software used in aircraft and drones. Applicants are expected to have qualification worth 96 UCAS points at A level standard or equivalent, plus 5 GCSE grade 4 or higher.
Aerospace Software Development Engineer – Level 6 (equivalent to a bachelor’s degree)
Plenty of university’s offer aerospace engineering degrees with top university’s requiring around 160 UCAS points and the lower end university’s requiring anywhere between 112-128. Most of the course or 3-4 years, 5 years for a masters, with a year in industry as well which can be very beneficial.
Where and who?
Some of the top drone companies to watch include Airware, 3D robotics, liquid robots, Airobotics and Aeryon. Most of these companies offer internships and look for people with engineering backgrounds. A top company in the UK is Coptrz they offer a range of free seminars about building drones and offer training courses.
One company called HALO drones is preparing students to apply for their PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operation) from the CAA and covers everything from airmanship, to air law, weather, airspace, aircraft knowledge and the workflow for a commercial drone task. Students must pass a theory exam followed by a practical flight assessment. Currently there are 3500 PfCO holders in the UK flying UAVs for commercial work.
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