Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Aviation Careers: We’ve Only Just Begun
With UAV careers leading the charge, aviation is booming
Between now and 2031, Boeing projects a need for more than 460,000 airline pilots around the world. Asia is already experiencing operational interruptions to airlines due to pilot scheduling constraints.
As a result of all this, schools are scrambling to implement UAV programs. As of this writing, we know of only four colleges that offer degree programs in unmanned aerial systems: Utah Valley University, Kansas State University, University of North Dakota and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Of course, many more colleges—even some community colleges—offer UAV pilot training programs. As of February 2013, 328 public institutions—including 14 universities and colleges—have permits from the FAA to fly unmanned aircraft. That number grows each month.
Utah Valley University (UVU) is leading an alliance of universities and private companies that are involved in research and development of remotely piloted vehicles (one component of UAVs). UVU is determined to become one of the six test facilities chosen by the FAA. Wayne Dornan, Ph.D., and dean of UVU's College of Aviation and Public Services said, "This is a virtual tsunami about to happen, the integration of unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace is one of the most important things to happen in aviation since the Wright brothers. That's how critical this is because this is going to change how we think about aviation."
For all this, students are rewarded with lucrative salaries. In today's environment, most students go on to work for military contractors and earn anywhere from $70,000 to $170,000 per year, frequently even more. Like airline jobs, experience and seniority affect salary. Analysts who process images and data captured by the vehicle's sensors can earn $100,000 per year to start. Once more private companies are flying UAVs, it's anybody's guess where salaries will go, but the general consensus is up.
Aerospace Technicians, Mechanics And Engineers
One highlight of Boeing's Market Outlook was its projection of needing 601,000 aircraft technicians in the coming decades. Although aircraft reliability continues to improve, systems become more complex and require specialized skills for designing and troubleshooting them.
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