Education and Training Requirements
A strong foundation for engineering work includes classes in math, science, design, and electronics. Take computer classes and any technology-related courses that your school offers. English classes help hone communication skills, which will be needed for writing reports and sharing information with engineering team members. Take foreign language classes too, which can be helpful for working with international companies and clients.
Most drone engineers have a bachelor's degree in engineering, unmanned aircraft systems, or related fields. A growing number of schools offer degree programs in unmanned aircraft systems. Some examples include Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Oklahoma State University, and University of Nevada (Reno), to name only a few. The Unmanned Vehicle University in Phoenix, Arizona, offers degree and certification programs in unmanned systems engineering. You can find more information on college programs at Drone Training Headquarters: https://dronetraininghq.com/drone-training-colleges-best.
A growing number of schools are creating drone technology certificate and degree programs. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers a Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Operations and Safety certificate program in which students must complete four courses: Introduction to Aeronautical Science, Introduction to Aerospace Safety, sUAS Flight and Mission Planning, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Systems. Visit https://erau.edu/degrees/certificate/small-unmanned-aerial-systems-operations-and-safety for more information. Contact schools in your area to learn about available programs.
Other Education or Training
Drone engineers must continue their education, formally or informally, throughout their careers. Many professional engineering associations offer webinars, in-person classes, and other continuing education classes to help their members keep up with specialized knowledge (e.g., drone technology, electrical systems, artificial intelligence) and professional practice. For example, ASME provides conference sessions and courses on topics such as design, quality control, professional ethics, and materials science. The National Society of Professional Engineers provides webinars for student members of the society. Past webinars included “Career Success in Engineering: A Guide for Students and New Professionals,” “Ethics and Professionalism for Students and Young Engineers,” "Communicating Clearly," "Engineering Leadership: What, Why, and How," and “How to Get Your First Job,” and The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International also offers webinars and other learning opportunities. Contact these and other organizations for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers offers the certified manufacturing engineer credential to mechanical engineers who work in manufacturing and who meet education and experience requirements. Other engineering and technical associations also provide certification.
Engineers with the professional engineer (PE) license show employers they have achieved a high level of knowledge and competency, and are able to secure positions of higher responsibility. To achieve the PE designation, engineers must graduate from an accredited engineering program, pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, work full time for four years with a professional engineer, and pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Details can be found on the National Society of Professional Engineers Web site, https://www.nspe.org/resources/licensure/what-pe.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
A bachelor's degree, internship, and several years of work experience are usually required for work as a drone engineer. Most engineers receive on-the-job training from their employers.
Drone engineers are knowledgeable about engineering science and technology procedures, techniques, and principles. They understand physical principles as well as math and its various applications, from algebra and geometry to calculus and statistics. The job requires a good understanding also of design tools, such as technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models. Drone engineers must be well versed in various software programs, including computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing, and project management software.
Drone engineers use logic and reasoning to identify and solve engineering problems. They have strong communication skills and are active listeners who are able to give full attention to other engineers and team members for effective collaboration on projects. Analytical thinkers who are innovative, dependable, and cooperative are best suited for this type of work.