The Future of Flight: Get an Unmanned Aerial Systems Education

Examples of unmanned aerial systems education or training programs include the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Collegiate Training Initiative (UAS-CTI) program, which is designed for universities, colleges, and technical schools that recognize and collaborate with institutions that prepare students for careers in UAS or drones. Other examples include FAA-approved drone pilot certification courses, certificate programs in drone technology, and specialized courses in areas such as photogrammetry and data analysis using drones. It is important to do research and ensure the program meets your personal goals and needs.

Types of UAS Educational Programs

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) represent the future of aviation, drone technology and educational programs in this field have never been more important. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of UAS educational programs available for both beginners and experienced professionals looking to grow their knowledge.

One such program is the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Collegiate Training Initiative (UAS-CTI), launched by the FAA in 2020. This program offers recognition to universities, colleges, and technical schools that prepare their students for careers in drones. Eligible institutions must offer a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in UAS, or a degree with a minor or concentration in UAS. Students who complete UAS-CTI programs can go on to pursue various careers in the field – from drone pilots and operators to researchers and engineers.

Another option is online educational platforms like Drone Pilot Ground School, which provides FAA Part 107 test prep courses along with training videos to help you learn how to fly safely. These courses cover everything you need to know about operating a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) commercially, including airspace regulations, weather conditions, crew resource management, emergency procedures, and more.

For those seeking a more traditional academic route, several universities now offer degree programs catering to UAS industry needs. For example, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science as well as Master’s and PhD-level programs for Aerospace Engineering focused on UAS development.

One student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University shares her experience: “I had always wanted to be a pilot growing up but never really found an avenue until I discovered the potential of drones and unmanned aircraft systems. Being able to not only understand how to fly these things but also engineer them has been truly eye-opening.”

In addition to formalized university education, there are other options available such as internships, workshops, and short courses. These options allow students to learn about UAS in more of a hands-on learning environment.

Ultimately, UAS educational programs come in a wide variety suited for different interests and learning styles. However, one thing they all have in common is that when you complete the program you will have solid foundation of technical knowledge that can prove valuable throughout your career.

Training Programs for Unmanned Aircraft Pilots

One critical aspect of working in the UAS industry is becoming proficient with flying unmanned aircraft. While hobbyists can experiment with flying on their own, those looking to fly drones commercially must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate through the FAA.

There are several training programs available to prepare for acquiring this certification. Two examples include Unmanned Safety Institute and DareUAS. These programs offer classroom-style instruction covering a range of drone-related topics including regulatory compliance, weather patterns, radio communication procedure, emergency protocols and safety measures.

One participant of the Unmanned Safety Institute program shared their experience: “Not only did the course prepare me to get my Remote Pilot’s License but it also helped me prepare myself with the knowledge necessary to be successful and educated within the industry.”

Additionally, some educational providers, like DJI Educational Insights operate entirely online making it easy and convenient for aspiring pilots around the world to obtain their certificate from anywhere at any time.

While these training programs can help individuals pass the FAA remote pilot exam, pilots still need further education in many areas including choosing appropriate hardware and software as well as learning how to safely fly drones in different environments. Thus gaining experience by practicing a variety of maneuvers is essential before even thinking about starting an actual commercial operation.

However it should be noted that while certification is important – on its own it may not necessarily expose one enough to other essential industry standards and information necessary for a long term successful career in the industry.

This is similar to getting a license to drive a car but not knowing how to change your tires when you have a flat or tricks on how to increase your gas mileage. It may allow you to operate but it does not mean you know how to optimize your driving experience correctly.

Ultimately, training programs offer pupils critical tutelage on the essentials of flying safely, regulatory compliance but it should be supplemented with plentiful practice and updated information and knowledge-forming experiences.

Degree Programs and Campuses

As the demand for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drone technology continues to grow, more educational institutions are offering degree programs that cater to students interested in pursuing careers within this industry. Colleges and universities across the United States now offer an array of programs in UAS studies. These programs vary by degree level, course objectives, and even campus locations.

One example of a UAS program is the bachelor’s degree offered at the University of North Dakota (UND). This four-year program covers topics such as aviation safety, flight operations, and regulations for UAS. Students at UND also have access to excellent training facilities, including a dedicated flight center that provides comprehensive hands-on experience with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Another well-regarded program can be found at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, which offers both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science programs in unmanned and autonomous systems.

Community colleges are also getting into the game with shorter-term certification programs for those seeking a more focused curriculum. The Skyline College in San Bruno, California, for instance, offers an Associate in Science Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology with an emphasis on Unmanned Aircraft Systems Maintenance.

The good news is that there are many options out there for students looking to pursue UAS studies. The academic side of this field covers ground from software development and networking to avionics engineering.

At Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT), students can enroll in two different programs- Unmanned Aerial Systems Operations and Unmanned Aerial Systems Design/Manufacturing. Whether you are interested in piloting UAVs or designing them from scratch, OSUIT has got you covered. The curriculum includes topics such as flight planning, aviation regulations, airframe design, composite materials manufacturing, computer science fundamentals, embedded systems design and machine learning.

The FAA launched the UAS Collegiate Training Initiative (UAS-CTI) Program in 2020 to recognize collegiate institutions for their efforts in preparing students for careers in drones. Institutions that offer a bachelor’s or associate’s degree program in conjunction with an established minor, concentration, or curriculum are eligible for this distinction.

One common question that arises is whether it’s better to obtain a UAS education through a community college or university. While both options have their pros and cons, universities tend to offer more comprehensive and versatile programs than community colleges because of their resources and size. However, community colleges may provide more hands-on experience necessary for piloting UAVs. It ultimately depends on your career goals and the availability of programs in your area.

Benefits of Pursuing a UAS Education

The drone industry is expected to create over 100,000 new jobs by 2025. Many challenging, high-paying jobs will be available as a result of this demand in different sectors such as agriculture, construction, filmmaking, mapping, and surveying. Recreational flying can be fun for hobbyists, but if you’re looking to make a career out of it — training and formal education are essential.

The most obvious advantage of getting a UAS education is that it puts you ahead of other job seekers. Employers recruit candidates based on their qualifications – if you have a UAS education, you’re already ahead of those who don’t. Also, having drone pilot certificates like Remote Pilot Certification from the FAA helps when applying as commercial drone regulations require pilots who operate drones for commercial purposes must hold this certification.

At Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT), students build unmanned aerial systems from scratch. They graduate with an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate and a strong understanding of design, maintenance, and operations that make them highly competitive in the job market.

Getting a UAS education is like investing in a stock market; it requires financial resources upfront but provides financial security later on. Education also allows you to grow your network by networking with professors, alumni and other students who share your interest in UAS.

One argument against investing time or money into formal education is that drone technology is constantly evolving, so it’s better to stay current on new technologies than rely on information taught in school. However, formal education institutions have access to industry-standard equipment and software that are expensive for individuals or small groups of people to acquire. Additionally, some employers prefer trained employees, individuals who have taken advantage of formal training opportunities in their respective fields.

After discussing the advantages of obtaining a UAS education, we can move on to understand the different specializations available in this field.

Obtaining Licenses and Certifications

Obtaining licenses and certifications is an integral part of pursuing a career in the UAS industry. These credentials demonstrate your proficiency and knowledge of unmanned aerial systems, making you a valuable asset to potential employers.

The FAA offers various licenses and certifications that are recognized by the industry. The first step to obtaining these credentials is by passing the FAA Part 107 exam. This exam covers rules and regulations for flying drones commercially, as well as important safety protocols.

Tom had been flying drones recreationally for years and decided to pursue a career in the UAS industry. He found that obtaining his Part 107 license was essential in getting hired by a company, as it demonstrated his dedication and knowledge of the industry.

Once you pass the Part 107 exam, there are additional certifications and endorsements you can obtain to further expand your skillset and make yourself more marketable. For example, you can earn a remote pilot certificate with an instrument rating, which allows you to fly in certain weather conditions, or a small UAS repairman certificate if you plan on working with drone maintenance.

These certifications not only showcase your expertise but also increase your earning potential. According to, having a FAA-licensed drone pilot certification can lead to an average salary increase of over $5,000 per year.

It’s important to note that obtaining licenses and certifications is not just beneficial for those pursuing piloting positions. Many other roles within the UAS industry require specific credentials, such as air traffic control or ground support specialists. Having these credentials could set you apart from other candidates applying for similar positions.

Exploring UAS Specializations

There are several specializations within the UAS industry that you can pursue based on your interests and skillset. Whether you enjoy engineering, data analysis, or even agriculture, there is a specialization for you.

An analogy: Pursuing a specialization in UAS is like choosing a flavor at an ice cream shop – there are so many options to choose from!

One specialization is in UAS engineering, which involves designing and developing unmanned aerial systems. This field requires a strong background in engineering and computer science and plays a crucial role in advancing the technology of drones for various industries.

Another specialization is UAS data analytics, which focuses on using the data collected by drones to provide insights and solutions to problems. This field requires skills in data management and analysis software.

For those interested in agriculture, there is a specialization in precision agriculture using drones. This field involves using drones to collect data on crops, such as moisture levels and plant growth rates, to improve efficiency and crop yields.

However, it’s important to note that specializing in one area does not limit job opportunities. Many positions within the UAS industry require cross-functional knowledge of multiple specializations, allowing for flexibility and versatility in career paths.