Prepare for Liftoff

Drones are one way to earn a living without a college degree — here’s ten more, plus all the info you need to launch a new career. 

Of all the insults and injuries of gentrification, one of the most galling is how development brings all these workers to a site – but no jobs. Neighborhood contractors usually don’t have the proper certifications and/or union affiliations to qualify for city projects in their own backyard. You’d think there’d be funding/training to address this issue, but not so much.

The good news is, technology has created a whole new industry where anyone over 16 with joystick skills and a keen eye can make a comfortable living: drone pilot! Average salary is $49,151 – $85,627; most drone pilots work part-time, starting at $25/hour. The market is expected to grow by 57.5% by 2028, especially in construction, where drones are revolutionizing the industry.

Drones can go anywhere – indoors, outdoors, underwater. They can inspect buildings (and equipment) at any stage of development. Even before a project breaks ground, drones are often tasked with mapping, surveying, and environmental assessments. Drones are also used to keep track of inventory, to move it around, and to keep an eye on it. After the ribbon cutting, drone photos and videos are key for real estate sales/promotions.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Drone pilots are needed for many other fields as well: filmmaking, wildlife research, search & rescue, weather tracking… Sites like DroneBase and SoldByAir function as “Ubers” for drone pilots, connecting customers in need with professionals in the area who can get the job done.

Unlike flying a drone recreationally, piloting a Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) professionally requires a special FAA license that takes 4 – 6 weeks of study, followed by a two-hour multiple choice exam. Most training classes cost about $200 and guarantee a passing grade. The certification itself costs $175, and even factoring in local permits, you could be ready to roll for $500 – $800!

Of course, buying your drone is another investment. Affordable drones exist now with features like super high-res cameras, zoom, night vision, stabilization, and even thermal imaging. Before you buy, sign up for personal drone coaching where you’ll be able to practice on different models provided by the instructors. You can then pick out a drone that’s ideal for the sort of work you prefer.  For more information, connect with the Drone User Group Network @PhillyDUG on Facebook.


No diploma? No problem! Tech Industry booming with well-paying jobs, no college required.

White collar, blue collar… new collar? In recent years, career specialists have coined the term “new collar” to define jobs that require a specialized skill set that can be self-taught or certified without a college diploma. Our list here is just a sample of the many well-paying positions in high demand for employees with the right aptitude and hands-on experience. (Starting salary estimates are based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics)


  1. GRAPHIC DESIGNER: $48,700 —  Create & update ads, logos, reports, brochures, etc.
  2. DIGITAL MARKETER: $48,946/year — Promote client products/services across a variety of platforms.
  3. SUPPORT SPECIALIST: $52,810/year — Provide computer assistance for customers and/or co-workers.
  4. TELECOMMUNICATIONS TECHNICIAN: $53,380/year  — Install & maintain equipment for communication infrastructure, including old-school telephone lines/modems/switchboards
  5. AEROSPACE TECHNICIAN: $67,240/year  — Operate & maintain aircraft and spacecraft technology.
  6. WEB DEVELOPER: $67,990/year — Create & support visual style of websites
  7. NETWORK ENGINEER: $71,515/year  — Develop & maintain networks that allow multiple devices to effectively communicate.
  8. COMPUTER PROGRAMMER: $82,240/year — Write code for apps, computers and proprietary equipment
  9. SYSTEMS ANALYST: $88,270/year — Rethink informational systems to maximize efficiency/profitability
  10. CYBERSECURITY ANALYST: $95,510/year  — Protect public & private networks from data leaks.

For more information, click on links for job descriptions and local resources you can use to find training and employment. Remember, too, this list is just tech jobs — there are also lots of “new collar” jobs in the healthcare industry as well. Good luck in your search and never forget: you deserve a living wage and a job you can be proud of.

For more pep talk, please talk to Sheena or Carolyn at the Local Resource Center (245 W. Chelten Ave/267-428-3520).

About The Local 155 Articles
The Local byline reflects community-created content (usually from social media, often from audio/video sources) that we've collected and edited into an article for our website/newspaper.

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