If you want a way to bridge the gap between your love of driving remote controlled vehicles and your engineering background, getting a job in national security as a drone pilot is the way to do it. Drone pilots at top companies like CACI have the opportunity to use an engineering background to build drones, as well as competently fly them. And with some unclassified work to begin on a contract, you only need to be eligible for a clearance – not actually have one to get your foot in the door.

What You Need To Get Started as a Cleared Drone Operator

You’ll need to start out with an engineering degree and build on from there. The key is in your ability to actually fly a drone, which takes a bit of practice. And in order to take your recreational drone usage and make it a real job, you’ll need to get FAA certification.

And just because you’ll be flying drones all day, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to have project management and communication skills. Being a drone pilot isn’t just about making Amazon deliveries. It includes mapping out flight patterns and understanding the threat landscape in national security that drones are helping the U.S. to solve.

No Signs of Slowing Down

The drone industry shows no signs of slowing down, and countries all around the world are developing manned and unmanned vehicles. The work will only continue to grow for this niche field as the U.S. feels the competition from countries like Russia and China.

According to the FAA, in the U.S., there are currently 869,614 registered drones. That number includes commercial and recreational. And, there are over 240,000 certified pilots. The interest in the field continues to grow, and adding drone skills to your engineering degree can only open up opportunities for you in national security. The good news is that this is a career that translates well into multiple industries. From law enforcement to insurance agencies to agriculture demands, a drone pilot is a key player on the team.


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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.