New career taking flight: CCM to train drone pilots

13-week course will prepare students for internships, jobs in emerging field with growing workforce need

In a sign of the times and — let’s be honest — workforce development for the next generation, the County College of Morris announced Tuesday it will be offering a course that will prepare students to become certified drone pilots.

The 13-week course will teach students what they need to know to work as commercial drone pilots, offering drone-flight lessons, drone-pilot readiness training and in-class preparation for the certification exam administered by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The course will be taught from June 7-Sept. 17, in a hybrid mode, combining remote instruction with in-person labs. Classes meet Tuesdays from 6-8:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-noon. Labs take place on Saturday on the CCM campus at 214 Center Grove Road, Randolph.

The course also will be taught in two distinct parts.

Part one is a six-week session, June 7-July 23, where students study aeronautical terminology, FAA regulations, airport operations, drone types and usage, map reading, pilot performance, flight restrictions, weather effects and the career paths available to drone pilots. Students begin flying provided drones in the fifth week of class.

The price for the session is $1,999 and students can register here.

Part two is a seven-week session, July 26-Sept. 17, focusing on theoretical concepts and practical applications, as well as flight training. This session covers emergency procedures, radio communication, drone performance, defensive handling, drone loading, drone maintenance, inspection procedures, decision-making and crew-resource management. Students also prepare for the FAA certification exam. The session is $2,000 and students can register here.

Students must complete the entire course (parts one and two) to be able to take advantage of internship opportunities. Students have the option of making one payment for the entire course or paying in installments for part one and part two. Textbooks are required and more information can be found here.

Three certified drone pilots, Kelvin King, Carlos Velasquez and Devon Keena, teach the course and instruct students in both the practice and theory of piloting commercial drones.

King, who also is airline pilot, said career opportunities are there.

“Drone pilots are in high demand in industries such as photography, real estate, forestry, logistics and distribution, emergency management, surveillance and agriculture,” he said. “This course allows CCM students to be among the first in New Jersey to earn drone pilot certification.”

Velasquez agreed.

“Piloting commercial drones is an emerging and well-paying career, and we are thrilled to be teaching this new course,” he said. “I suspect many CCM students will enjoy the course, and I’m eager to guide them on their journeys to becoming certified drone pilots.”