I can’t tell you how often I hear from people hoping to make a career change into the unmanned and robotics field, with little to no truly relevant experience in this field. From the gentleman eager to leave mining to become a UAV pilot to the woman leaving a job as an executive in banking with the goal of landing a technical position in unmanned, the lure of this industry appeals to all kinds.
The question is, how can such a transition actually be made?
Be Realistic In Your Expectations
If your dream truly is to make it in unmanned, there is likely always a way to make that happen… so long as you’re realistic about what that might look like. If you’ve been making 6 figures in your current industry and are hoping to replicate that pay now, you’re probably going to be disappointed… especially if you have no relevant experience. Starting over often means just that, and no matter how impressive your resume is up to this point—a career change tends to dilute that impressiveness. Yes, you can likely find a foot in the door (I may even be able to help you find it), but you probably need to be prepared to start at the bottom.
Know the Requirements
Obviously, anyone hoping to become a UAV pilot needs to have actual flight experience. Just as anyone aiming for a technical job is going to need the appropriate training and certifications to go along with that. Depending on what you’re hoping to do within this industry, additional schooling, licenses, affiliations, and certifications may be required. Do your research and know what landing your dream job entails.
If you want to break into this industry, your best bet is going to be making connections. Which may mean taking unmanned and robotics on as a hobby or volunteer gig for a while. Take the courses, meet others actively involved in the industry, and find out how you can get started without landing an actual job. The more connections you make, the more opportunities you’ll have.
Hone Your Resume
In most cases, a traditional chronological resume will no longer serve your needs when making a career transition. Your resume needs to reflect your skills and capabilities, not just your job titles and past position duties. Ideally, you should have a resume that can be very specifically targeted to whatever job you’re applying for. If you feel a bit at a loss, hire someone to help you get your resume where it needs to be. This industry can be extremely competitive, particularly for certain positions, and your resume can make all the difference.
Prepare Yourself For a Move
Jobs in unmanned tend to be clustered in a few set locations around the country—this isn’t an industry with job openings in every city. So if you really want to break into the field, you need to be prepared to relocate when the right job comes along.
Like all career changes, persistence is key. If this is really your dream, there is absolutely a way to make it happen. The question is… how hard are you willing to work, and what are you willing to sacrifice, in order to break into unmanned?
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