DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — With the ever-changing workforce, some people are skipping the traditional college route. More industries are looking for skilled tradespeople, leading some jobseekers to get immediate training in their future field.

At 2 NEWS, we are launching a new monthly series called “Skills 2 Succeed.”

We’re taking a look at the different paths people pursue to help fill that need, and the industries desperate for workers.  

With Sinclair Community College’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Program, there are a number of options on the horizon for job seekers. 

Twenty-year-old Hannah Savard of Vandalia is about halfway through Sinclair’s UAS Program. She’s learning how to fly drones and already putting her skills to use. 

“A lot of people when I tell them that my major is drones, they’re kind of like, ‘Why is your major drones? What can you do with a drone?'” admits Savard. 

When Savard graduated from Miami Valley CTC in 2021, what she wanted to do was up in the air.

“I originally did not want to do this program. I actually was like well, if I’m going to be in aviation, I want to fly a plane. I’m not going to fly a drone,” laughs Savard. 

After taking a tour of the UAS program at Sinclair, her interest took off.  

“I really like the versatility. We have so many different career fields we can go into: GIS, working for agriculture, which is something I think I might want to do. You can even work for Border Patrol,” says Savard. 

Through different certificates at Sinclair, they show students the many possibilities that exist. 

“We have short-term certificates. We have associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees. Short-term certificates involve specific areas of UAS: precision agriculture, first responder, GIS, data analytics, and entrepreneurship,” lists Greg Garman, UAS Program Coordinator in the Aviation Technology Department at Sinclair.

“All of those carry over into the associate’s and bachelor’s degree. The associate’s degree revolves around manual flying. We want our students to be able to handle these aircraft not using GPS, not using autopilot.”

Through the program, students are immersed in technology right away, getting their hands on a drone as soon as their second semester and getting to work with companies sooner.   

“In fact, we have changed our curriculum around so students can get their internship in their third semester,” says Garman. 

Through Sinclair, Savard has already earned her 107, meaning she’s able to fly a drone commercially and get paid for it. 

“When I started here in 2019, we only had a couple of companies that even knew what drones were,” says Garman. “In the last 15 to 18 months, we’ve had 14 companies calling us, wanting our students because they’re starting to use drones in their operations and realize they need to be licensed, they need to be trained.”

While Savard earned college credit while going to CTC and also earned scholarships to come to Sinclair, the community college offers affordable options for students.

“Sinclair’s bachelor’s degree in UAS is one of the more economical in the area, if not the country,” states Garman.

When students graduate, depending on the certificate or degree they earned and where they choose to work, they can make between $40,000 and $60,000 starting out, according to Garman.

“It depends on where they want to go and what they want to do. California and Texas and Florida, there’s a huge demand for power line inspections and things like that, and they’re making really good money. Sometimes six figures,” states Garman.

Lessons at Sinclair prepare students like Savard for an ever-expanding job field with the program the wave of the future. 

“Having the Air Force base here really helps a lot, research lab. Research and development is huge in Unmanned Aerial Systems,” says Garman. 

Garman believes that come September, that’s when the program and the demand will really explode with drone delivery expected to start.

“It’s really cool,” says Savard. 

Savard has a summer internship with Geopro Consultants in Kettering. She’s expected to graduate from Sinclair in 2025 with her bachelor’s degree. After graduating, she hopes to work in agriculture, flying drones.