Drone Schools in California

While there are currently no universities offering 4-year UAV degrees,  there are certainly drone schools in California. For example, Cal Poly Pomona’s College of the Extended University offers  the following:

CEU logoThe Small Systems UAV Operator Certificate is a 6-week, single course program that will train you to operate small UAVs (under 55 pounds). The cost is $2495, and it covers the following topics: Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Operations, Regulations, Operations Risk Management and Flight Simulation, Autonomous Flight and Data Collection, Navigation and Mission Planning, Ground Flight Operations, and Flight Day.

Cal Poly’s Extended University  also offers an Advanced Unmanned Aerial Systems Certificate that can be a stand-alone program or augment an engineering degree.  This is a multiple-course certificate program can be completed in approximately one year.

If you don’t necessarily care about a degree or certificate and just want to learn, DARTdrones offers 1-day classes in Los Angeles and San Francisco at various times throughout the year.

DARTdrones logoThese classes are designed to help beginners “choose the right drone for their needs, understand how to fly legally and safely, and learn to fly.” They also offer FAA exemption filing assistance. You can also get a discount off the price of their training course, if you click on the link above and enter the coupon code: DRNHQ10.

drone universities logoAnother company, Drone Universities offers both hands-on training though a variety of courses, and career placement services as well. And while they are based in La Jolla, they also offer UAV courses at various locations throughout California and the county. Definitely worth checking…

Drone University USA logoThere is also Sacramento-based Drone University USA (not to be confused with the company above) which also offers classes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.  These are 2-day courses which are “designed for students who are interested in being trained to be a safe, legal and efficient FAA FAR Part 107 commercial sUAS/drone operator.” They also offer 1 full year of free classroom training to all graduates so they can receive the latest information and training for the Part 107 license.

K2 unamanned logoK2 Unmanned Systems is based in Huntington Beach, and is home to a
Drone Training Academy offering the training necessary to obtain FAA
Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification. K2’s program includes an on-site classroom, simulator room and in-field training programs as well as online, self-paced training programs.

In addition, Unmanned Vehicle University (though based in Arizona) advertises a flight training center in Sacramento, for its UAV Pilot Training Certificate program.

There are also a number of colleges and universities in the Golden State that, while they don’t offer UAV-specific classes as part of their curriculums, have some first-class unmanned aerial vehicle clubs and research groups. Stanford has a UAV club. Other universities boasting noteworthy groups are listed below:

California State University, Fresno (Lyles College of Engineering)
“The CSUF UAS research group is a multidisciplinary team comprised of Mechanical, Electrical and Computer, and Geomatics Engineering faculty, staff, and students that integrates engineering disciplines of mechanical systems, vibrations, geomatics, power, robotics and control, microcontrollers and embedded systems, communications, and optics.”

California California State University, Fullerton
The College of Engineering and Computer Science has entered teams in the Student Unmanned Aerial Systems competition.

California California State University, Northridge
“CSUN’s “Unmanned Aerial Systems” team that took second place overall in the 10th International UAS competition hosted by AUVSI from June 13-17th in Maryland.”

California Polytechnic State University, Pomona
“A team of engineering students at Cal Poly Pomona is attempting to design and build systems that will allow a helicopter drone to communicate with an unmanned vehicle on land. The project, which involves the cooperation of the school’s sister campus in San Luis Obispo and $30,000 from defense contractor Northrop Grumman, could lead to innovations with a variety of military and civilian applications”

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
A multidisciplinary team of Cal Poly engineering students won the 2014 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) competition sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) at its recent annual regional student conference. Cal Poly’s was one of 15 entries in the competition that featured student teams from universities across the western U.S. The contest challenged students to design, build, and fly a radio-controlled air vehicle capable of maneuvering through obstacles on a small course and dropping a payload on a target within five minutes allotted time, simulating a hypothetical UAV firefighting mission.

If your heart is set on a certification or degree program in drone technology, you may need to go to the neighboring states of Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon. Please check out our drone school pages on those states, for specific information on what programs are available.

12 thoughts on “Drone Schools in California

    1. Hi Anthony, Good question! It really depends on the institution offering the training. You would need to contact the school you are interested in attending.

  1. Hello, I’m from Colombia and i’m interested in getting a dregree in LA, and how can I apply if I’m not an USA citizen. Thanks!

    1. Hi Gustavo,

      I’m afraid each institution has different requirements. You would have to contact the school in which you are interested directly to see if U.S. citizenship is a requirement for training.

  2. any type of qualifications to get into these schools? high school diploma? college degrees? I know nothing about drones but I am very interested in it being my career.

    1. There are no prerequisites but for professional level commercial graduates there is some math an science involved in the operations and understanding of aircraft systems and FAA knowledge requirements

  3. Becoming a UAV Operator is something I am really interested in. My Question is enrolling in CalPoly UAV certificate program the core to beginning UAV career?

  4. is this good to have and is there financial for the classes as well also was the guarantee that i can get a job on this field i been doing research is around 90 100k a yr min starting rates

    Advanced Unmanned Aerial Systems Certificate that can be a stand-alone program or augment an engineering degree.

  5. I am a Brooklyn based videographer and will be visiting my parents in Carpinteria Nov 23, 24 and 25. I am interested in paying an instructor for an introductory lesson in drone photography somewhere in the Santa Barbara area. Can you suggest someone

  6. Please add Gavilan College to the list of schools. The UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) certificate program starts Fall 2017 and will be held at the Gavilan College Coyote Valley Center, 560 Bailey Ave, San Jose. Classes are only $46 per unit, and financial aid and VA assistance are available. For more information call (408) 848-4719.

  7. I have Two questions 1. Do having a pilot license (PPSEL) help or hinder? 2. Are these Drones like standing in the field holding an R/C set-up, or is this like sitting in a controller chair in an air conditioned room wearing virtual reality goggles playing video games?

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