TEXARKANA, Texas — Premier High School here will offer drone pilot certification through its Career and Technical Education program.
Premier High — which is part of the ResponsiveEd, a non-profit charter school network — will implement the program for Federal Aviation Administration 107 certification in the fall.
In the first semester, students will have the opportunity to receive a safety and security certificate, before doing flight simulators and preparing for the exam in the second semester. Premier High will pay for up to two exam attempts.
Campus Director Bria Howe said the idea of this CTE expansion came after nearly $1 million in federal charter school funding was received early last year in order to provide more in-demand skills to the school’s students.
“As far as I know, there is no one else in Texarkana offering this. So, this is giving us kind of a unique edge,” Howe said. “Some of our directors creatively saved their money and came up with this idea to do this, and they’ve done really well with it.”
The median wage for an FAA-certified commercial drone pilot is more than $42,000 per year, and students at other Premier High School campuses have already become licensed drone pilots. Premier High in Texarkana has two commercial-grade drones and a litter of mid-grade drones for the program.
“There are so many different industries that this touches,” Howe said. “You’ve got real estate, gas and oil, land surveying and there’s even a drone racing league. But the reason why our school was identified specifically for the drone program is because of the high number of prisons in our area. It’s really for the safety and security CTE cluster.”
Howe said it’s exciting to see opportunities like this sprout up in the Texarkana area for those who are taking a non-traditional path towards a successful career.
“It really is exciting because college isn’t the path for everyone,” she said. “So, equipping these kids with skills that they can take to just go straight into their career. That’s really what this program will do. And that’s not to say they wouldn’t also maybe want to go to college, but you can work in so many different industries with just your drone pilot’s license. It’s a little bit mind-blowing.”
There will be informational meetings about the program at 10 a.m. on July 27 and Aug. 3 and 5 p.m. July 29 and Aug. 5.
(Premier High School is located at 3448 Summerhill Road. Go to premierhighschools.com online for more information.)