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Aviation Career Choice - Looking for Direction / Advice

samg

New member
#1
Hi... I'm trying to decide on a career choice. I've been an avid drone and glider user for some time, and really enjoy it. There are so many different colleges out there now, though the courses provided appear to be fairly different between them all. I'd like to get into a career relating to UAS but I don't believe I can handle 4 years of college. Does anyone have some suggestions? I did see one out of Northland College in MN that has about 6 different courses (though all seem to relate to being a technician)... and perhaps that is a good route to take. But would like to get some feedback from others if possible. Much appreciated.
 
#2
I don't know much about this school except what I seen on line. Check out Unmanned Vehicle University in AZ (866) 916-8519 and there was an email >>admissions@uxvuniversity.com.

My personal recommendation if you are not sure you want to go to straight to college, would be to join the USAF and look into Aircraft Propulsion Technician (Jet Engines) or Aircraft Maintenance Technician (Crew Chief). They are the career fields where you will learn the most about aviation maintenance/aircraft which would be a good background for you. You could then choose to work on drones in the USAF and do your four years and have all the experience and background to go further. I retired after 20 years in the USAF and I really enjoyed my time in the USAF and they also paid for my college while I was on active duty!!!
 

makattack

Winter is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#3
If you want to be a UAS pilot, yeah, I would probably consider military service if I didn't want to pay for a degree... but just realize that the military is basically an endless classroom unless you're deployed or in an exercise. The testing is a bit more ... stressful, in my opinion, since your career / quals depend on your results. At any rate, if you're looking to avoid the classroom, I don't think that's possible unless you want to keep it a hobby.
 

SlingShot

Maneuvering With Purpose
#4
Sounds like good advice here. One caveat though. Be prepared to behave yourself. The military is NOT a place to screw-up. I didn't serve exactly, but my father was practically Capt. Bligh at the house. I did 18 years that I didn't sign up for. (And wasn't paid for.) If you go, be prepared for the BS. Based on historical desertion rates, the Air Force IS the easiest branch.
 
#5
If you choose the military, I too would recommend USAF. I spent 27 years there, and it was a continual learning process, often taught by civilian technical representatives (tech. reps.) from the large companies that sold systems to USAF. You would find it's normally just a job, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. You're just required to wear a uniform at work. The education you would receive costs you only your time, and is among the best in the world. As stated above, however, you must apply yourself to the job, be the best you can be.
 

samg

New member
#6
Thanks for the info. I had originally intended on going into the Air Guard, and going thru the drone program in North Dakota. But after going back n forth for months, they rejected me due to my dry skin condition. And it's only a little dry, but military won't take that condition, except for maybe the army.
 
#7
So this is similar advice that I gave to my brother. He decided to take it and so far is enjoying his choice.

College is not a requirement to have a good life/job. Depending on your choice it can add a huge amount of debt to the start of your life. Granted some professions you must go this route, but if you do make a very smart choice on what school you go to as far as cost versus education. So far in my career the school I went to has had no impact in the least in my career trajectory and the debt I racked up thinking it would help me is, while not crippling, a hindrance in a lot more ways than is helpful.

Start your own business for I am assuming UAV photography services. Square Space or other services for a website are fairly cheap now and straight forward to build out the site itself. Fiverr is a great source to get someone to do some graphic design for you for cheap (logo etc) and even have people who will do your site for you. You'll have to have a 8-5 while you build up the business and buy gear, pay for insurance, maintain your site, etc. but over time hopefully you can transition fully if you are successful at building it.

App.and.co is a free service from Fiverr that is a full basic company management system. Expenses, invoicing, project tracker, task list, clients, time tracker, and other useful things. Also has a "shoebox" for collecting your receipts for business expenses.

Now, what may be good to go to your local Community College for is photography instead of UAV. Framing, editing, and all those other things I know nothing about that they can teach you that will improve your provided product.

Just my thoughts.
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#8
Consider what DharanFlyer said carefully.

I have lived a similar experience in a different but similarly 'exploding' field in the 90's - web and software development. I couldn't afford to go to college when I graduated high school, so I took a job doing drafting and spent lots of my free time learning programming.

After a while of learning on my own, I started a side-business venture with a friend and we did one succesfull eCommerce website back in 1996 when the word "eCommerce" hadn't even been invented yet. We both turned that experience into succesfull and much more lucrative jobs in fast growing web development companies and were hired into spots past people with fresh software college degrees but no experience.

Fast forward 20 years, he's the owner of his own software company for about 15 years, and I roll between various executive jobs running technology functions or departments for big companies.

Both my friend and I did complete college degrees eventually - but only when we were working for a company that was willing to pay the bill for the degree. And honestly, I got a lot more out of the college education after I had been working for a while too.

Going straight into college after high school is the expected norm in many ways, but it's not always the best path. It can work out great, but it can also leave you saddled with a lot of debt and job prospects that aren't much different from when you started classes.
 
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SlingShot

Maneuvering With Purpose
#9
That's quite a good story Rockyboy. I have spent a lot of money on education and while there have been benefits, there is some that I would definitely bypass if I had a do over.

If you do decide that college is a good fit, in addition to being cost conscious, be aware of the Big Fish Little Pond/Little Fish Big Pond phenomena. This is described in "David and Goliath" by Malcolm Gladwell. Spoiler alert: It is almost always better to be a big fish in a little pond.
 
#10
Thanks for the info. I had originally intended on going into the Air Guard, and going thru the drone program in North Dakota. But after going back n forth for months, they rejected me due to my dry skin condition. And it's only a little dry, but military won't take that condition, except for maybe the army.
duuuuude i got the same from the army and marine i was gonna join after high school but cuz i have ashtma they wont let me. i wanna fly drones to but now i boght my own and it broke the first mintue i flown it. i think this drone stuff suks
 
#11
Thanks for the feedback. Probably going to lean towards airline mechanic, but still get education in unmanned aircraft systems. Whether or not I eventually start a business, it would still be good to have the knowledge, and do some stuff on the side. Never know. ;)
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#13
I don't want to rain on your parade with UAS/UAV careers, but I've heard many stories from people who train the military UAV pilots. My dad used to work for Lockheed Martin, and knew guys who trained people to fly the Predator drones. We'd have them over to barbecues and what not, and they'd tell us stories of these guys who said that most of their missions consisted of sitting locked in a room all day long at a terminal, flying these drones and looking at various areas.

Granted, they couldn't get into much detail, due to what they were looking at and potentially classified missions, but they said for the most part it was like being a glorified security guard and flight sim pilot in one. You stared at pictures, watched to see if someone came in or out of a building/camp/tent/whatever, followed a vehicle for hours, and tried not to get shot down or wreck the drone during takeoff/landing so you didn't get your hindquarters chewed by the brass. They told us there was a LOT of pilot burnout doing it, because they didn't get to talk to anyone, and they basically went to a room for 12-16 hours a day flying missions and didn't get to interact with anyone or talk to anyone except via debriefing to their superiors.

I'd probably love that job, but I can tell you that it is a job that takes a certain kind of person to do it. If that seems like you, I wish you the best of luck doing the job! :)
 

Jackson T

Active member
#14
Thanks for the feedback. Probably going to lean towards airline mechanic, but still get education in unmanned aircraft systems. Whether or not I eventually start a business, it would still be good to have the knowledge, and do some stuff on the side. Never know. ;)
Yeah, I want to be an aircraft mechanic too! Either that or work at a museum restoring warbirds. It sounds like you'll do well!