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Ready for Liftoff: Drones and Drone Courses are More Popular Than Ever

Wed, Sep 20,2017 @ 03:52 PM
by Kathryn Lynch-Morin |

iStock-607606738.jpgDrones are everywhere these days and their popularity is only expected to soar higher.

The Federal Aviation Administration predicts there will be 7 million active drones in the U.S. by 2020 – up from the 2.5 million drones flying over American skies now. BI Intelligence, the research arm of Business Insider, expects drone sales to surpass $12 billion in 2021.

That’s a huge market that offers a lot of potential for lifelong learning programs.

Hobbyists, entrepreneurs and even law enforcement and the military are already using drones for everything from snapping photos of real estate listings to identifying hot spots in wildfires. Experts predict leisure drone use to increase and see boundless potential for drone use and drone-based businesses.

This fall Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College launched a drone certificate program, a series of three courses designed for individuals to develop an understanding of drone history, types of aircraft, and various applications of drone use, legal matters, safe usage, and practical hands-on flight experience, according to NWTC’s website. In August, NWTC trained international police in drone tactics and trends for in law enforcement.

Utah Valley University Professional & Continuing Education offers customized drone training, as well as drone courses for teambuilding or leadership retreats.

Kirkwood Continuing Education & Training Services offers Drones in the Fire Service. “Drones offer a great opportunity to assess information from significant incidents and large-scale events that can provide additional situational awareness to the incident commander. This course will include: incident command, fire ground and technical rescues,” the course description reads.

Harper College’s Non-Credit Continuing Education division offers four different drone classes including Make Money Flying Drones, Piloting a Drone: Fundamentals, Piloting a Drone: Advanced Concepts, and a Knowledge Test Prep course aimed at helping students pass the FAA certification for commercial drone piloting.

Business Training at Parkland College also offers an exam prep course for people looking to become FAA certified.

“Like the internet and GPS before them, drones are evolving beyond their military origin to become powerful business tools,” the Goldman Sachs study “Drones: Reporting for Work” reads. “They’ve already made the leap to the consumer market, and now they're being put to work in commercial and civil government applications from firefighting to farming. That’s creating a market opportunity that's too large to ignore.”

Growth in drone spending and use is expected to increase in the commercial/civil, consumer and military sectors, according to the study, with the commercial and civil sectors holding the largest potential. The study goes on to say drones are likely to create new job opportunities across industries – from construction, agriculture and insurance claims, to policing, fire service, journalism, and real estate.

“The $100 billion market opportunity we forecast over the next five years is just the tip of the iceberg,” the report states. “Drones' full economic potential is likely to be multiple times that number, as their ripple effects reverberate through the economy.”

Development of new drone uses will only continue as the industry grows and more consumers and businesses adopt the technology. Drone-centered trainings and certifications will also need to follow suit.

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