Collaboration Effort Between FAA, Industry, Academia, and Other Federal Agencies Will Provide Updated UAS Occupational Data


A concern for lack of UAS job data was discussed during the Unmanned Aircraft Systems-Collegiate Training Initiative (UAS-CTI) kick-off meeting last year. This resulted in a praiseworthy collaboration between professionals from industry and academia, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Transportation and FAA to address the concern.   

Why is job data important?

This data helps colleges and universities justify the creation of new UAS programs and sustain such programs, which align with the FAA UAS Collegiate Training Initiative’s mission of not only preparing students for the drone workforce, but also teaching them skills, knowledge and safety principles that are key to the FAA’s efforts to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System. 

Updates to the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET

After months of collaboration and discussion, the UAS-CTI O*NET workgroup, which consists of professionals from industry, academia, and Federal agencies, submitted proposed changes in May 2021 to the following occupations in the O*NET database:

  • Electro-Mechanical and Mechatronics Technologists and Technicians 
  • Commercial Pilots 
  • Camera Operators, Television, Video, and Film
  • Remote Sensing Scientists and Technologists
  • Remote Sensing Technicians

The group, chaired by Dr. Wing Cheung, Palomar College, received a message from O*NET last week stating the proposed changes to the following sections for each of the five occupations listed above were accepted: 

  • Sources of Additional Information (will be published in 9/2021)
  • Technology Skills (will be published in 11/2021)
  • Tools Used (will be published in 11/2021)

Additional Information

Cheung said “Drones, or UAS, are quickly maturing from an emerging technology to a ubiquitous one that is found in different sectors of our economy. Our work with O*NET and other stakeholders is a first step in ensuring that educators and administrators will have timely and accurate labor market information about drone related occupations, which can help shape curriculum and prepare students for new and exciting opportunities in the drone workforce.”

NCAT Co-PI, Zackary Nicklin said, “NCAT is excited to be a part of this initiative that represents a great first step in producing and disseminating UAS-related jobs data. A lack of data has hampered the creation of new and exciting educational programs that harness a technology that provides for safer, more cost-effective operations across many industries. With this data, we will be able to grow the number of educational programs and increase the number of well trained technicians within this sector of the workforce.”

September 23, 2021

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