Prepare for Takeoff! Exploring Apprenticeship Career Pathways with Drones

Vanessa Soto
Innovative Apprenticeship Outreach and Education Analyst

Industries are being reinvented by innovations such as the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), better known as drones. Drones can be used for much more than capturing cinematic panoramas. From search and rescue operations to agriculture, construction, mapping inaccessible terrains, and medical supply deliveries to remote areas, drones are transforming how businesses operate. Recognizing this shift, the Fullerton Drone Lab has launched an innovative new apprenticeship career pathways with the Hornet Drone Piloting Apprenticeship Program. This exciting new program is registered both here in California and federally and gives Californians a competitive edge as early entrants in this technological revolution.

Through the program, apprentices can expect to do between 8 months to 1 year of on-the-job drone operations with one of the employer partners. Upon completing the program, apprentices will have 700-plus hours of logged flight time, obtain their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107 certification, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 30, and complete the 10-11 college unit Uncrewed Aerial Systems Certificate.  Jay Seidel, an instructor and program director of the Fullerton Drone Lab at Fullerton College, shared that he ensures that the curriculum is more than just a technical mastery and painted a vivid picture of the cohort experience – one where students evolve into a close-knit community that supports each other through rigorous studies and sharing newfound avenues in drone career opportunities.

Instructor Seidel shared, “They can go anywhere at that point because they will get the certificate of completion from the Division of Apprenticeship Standards and the Department of Labor. It sets a standard saying that they verified and validated that they've completed the requirements. At that point, they have the qualification and confidence to even go out, be entrepreneurs, and start their own business.” Aspiring drone pilots can begin taking courses beginning at age 16 with dual enrollment.  Youth and adults are both actively seeking this opportunity to upskill and start careers in Drone Aviation. The Hornet Drone Piloting Apprenticeship Program offers a multifaceted approach to workforce development, bridging the gap between education and industry and ensuring the sustained growth of a pivotal sector in today’s technology-driven world.
For more information on the program, visit:


October 2023