Drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)

Drone piloting is a rapidly evolving career opportunity. Picture yourself photographing real estate, performing building inspections, surveying land around the world, performing military applications, filming the latest Hollywood movie, fertilizing crops, or providing support for search and rescue missions. However, drones are not only in the air. This year, we added underwater ROVs to the Unmanned Vehicle Operator program.

2 students flying a drone

Earn your recreational drone pilot's license while learning how to safely operate your UAV. Learn about airspace classifications, weather patterns, safety procedures, airport communications, and laws about flying drones.

In the second portion of the program, students go to SAMI and learn how to design, build, and operate unmanned vehicles underwater.  Underwater ROVs are used for inspection, photography, research, retrieving items, and exploring areas not safe for humans.  

Summer 2024 Program Timeline

  • Application window open: Ongoing 
  • Program dates: Coming soon
  • Notification of selected applicants: Early June
  • Location: Hunt Middle School
  • Approximate hours to complete: 80
  • Graduation Credit: 0.5 in STEM
  • Certifications: TRUST UAV License and Financial Literacy through EverFi
  • Special considerations for this program: None
  • Completion stipend: $500
  • Cost to families: $0
  • For additional information, please contact Jeff Klancke: jklanck@tacoma.k12.wa.us

Drone Pilot Careers by the Numbers

Average Salary (as of 3/31/22): $53,427 source

Required Education: Nothing other than passing the FAA exam

Job Outlook: This is hard to quantify since most drone careers are listed under other categories such as photography, videography, inspections, agriculture, etc. Here is a current summary outlining the industry outlook - source

Current Job Postings: On indeed

What it's like to be a drone pilot:

Official FAA Drone Site: Become a Drone Pilot (faa.gov)

Drone Careers: What Kinds of Jobs Can Drone Pilots Do? - Pilot Institute

DJI Drone Blog: Tons of