The Orange County Center of Excellence (OC COE) has published an updated Drone Technology report with current labor market demand and wage data for Los Angeles and Orange counties, statewide postsecondary supply information, and a detailed job posting analysis for five major drone-related job families.
The original report was published in spring 2019 at the request of Orange Coast College which led the Regional Strong Workforce Drone Collaborative. The findings were presented at a Drone Summit attended by representatives from industry and community colleges.
The prevailing finding was that there are not specific drone occupations, rather a collection of drone-specific skills that can be applied to a wide variety of occupations across numerous industries. The employers in attendance highly agreed with this finding, and Orange County’s community colleges subsequently built programs to address this industry need.
The data in the report was updated in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and was updated again this year to provide a complete picture of how the pandemic impacted drone-related occupations.
The 2022 report shows that the demand for applied drone skills in the workforce has increased in recent years. In the past 12 months, 860 online job ads were posted related to drones in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The highest number of job postings were for drivers, senior software engineers, and senior test pilots.
While job postings decreased in 2020 in tandem with the overall decline in hiring associated with the pandemic, total postings over the past 12 months exceed yearly totals during the last pre-pandemic period.
Nearly 65% of all job postings fell into five “Job Families”:
- Computer and Mathematical
- Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports and Media
- Architecture and Engineering
- Transportation and Materials Moving
The skills requested in each job family vary greatly due to the vastly different tasks typically required by each, and many do not include piloting.
There are 11 community colleges throughout California that offer drone-related programs, conferring an average of 15 awards annually between 2017 and 2020. However, there are 32 community colleges that offer 80 drone-related courses listed under 26 different TOP codes throughout California, with more in development.