Aviation schools prepare for boom in drone jobs

Published On: Dec 12 2013 08:16:31 AM EST

Tracy Sabo/CNN

20.4: Percentage of the global UAS (unmanned aerial systems) market held by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., the largest of any American company.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -

Student pilots in Daytona Beach and across the nation are preparing for jobs that don't exist yet in aviation's newest, most promising field: flying drones.

Instead of training as cargo or airline pilots, many students are learning to fly unmanned aircraft, enrolling in new programs at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, as well as the University of North Dakota and Kansas State.

The market for drone operators is expected to boom after more drones become legal to fly in U.S. airspace, which could happen in the next few years.

Drones are best known for their use by the U.S. military, but other markets beckon, such as using unmanned aircraft in agriculture, law enforcement and search-and-rescue operations.

Enrollment in North Dakota's unmanned aircraft degree program grew from just five students in 2009 to 120 last year.

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