Aviation Flight is a pathway intended to prepare students to be successful in a range of aviation careers, such as pilots, aircraft engineers, air traffic control specialists, aircraft mechanics, or airline statisticians. Course content covers the knowledge and skills of all aspects of flight needed to pass the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Private Pilot written exam, including aircraft structures, flight environment, procedures and regulations, aerodynamics of flight, judgment training, navigation, communications, and more. Upon completion of this program of study, students will be prepared to take the FAA Private Pilot written exam and will be able to advance more quickly through the training hours typically required to solo in an aircraft after graduating. Students may gain related job experience while still in high school through work-based learning and local and CTSO competitions. Dual credit/dual enrollment opportunities may be established with local postsecondary institutions.
Air Transportation Workers
Amongst the air transportation workers occupation groups projected to grow in Tennessee between 2016 and 2026 are commercial pilots at 29.40%, aerospace engineering at 15.30%, and aircraft mechanics and service technicians at 4.5%. Avionics technicians are a smaller group that is not expected to have employment growth. All of the above mentioned occupation groups range in average salary from $56,300 to $86,440. Other occupation groups include air traffic controllers, airline pilots, copilots, flight engineers, and first-line supervisors of mechanics, installers and repairers. Yearly review of the air transportation work force is vital as the marketplace for job openings appears to be dynamic and volatile.
Aerospace Engineering
Students enrolled in the Aviation Flight program of study may also use their training to pursue careers as aerospace engineers. A significant increase in aerospace engineer employment is expected from 2016-2026. The strongest demand for aerospace engineers is in the Memphis area.
Unmanned Aerial Systems
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics has not yet categorized unmanned aerial system (UAS) operators outside of military specific occupations, the increased commercial use of this technology is significant. The demand for jobs in the UAS industry, commonly referred to as drones, is going to increase. A study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), projects more than 100,000 new jobs would be created in the UAS field by 2025. In 2015, an employment of 99 was reported in the UAS field in Tennessee. The report indicated that the number will triple to 297 by 2017 and grow to 439 in 2025. While salaries for UAS pilots vary widely, salaries up to $100,000 have been reported. A recent report that focused only on large businesses stated that drone adoption by large companies is expected to double. An example of the expected job demand increase is the fact that an increasing number of companies need a UAS program manager.
According to one study the UAS industry was anticipated to generate $1.1 billion in spending in 2015, growing to $2.3 billion in 2016, and to $5.1 billion in 2025. In 2015, employment was expected to be 11,400, growing to 22,800 in 2016, and to 50,529 in 2025. Over the 10-year period 2015-2025, drones were anticipated to generate 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in direct and induced economic activity. The study indicated that agriculture and public safety sectors are expected to make the highest use of drones.
Upon completion of this program of study, students will be prepared to pass the FAA Private Pilot written exam. Students may enter the workforce as commercial pilots or other aerospace employees. Students will be ready to further their training at technical schools and universities in various areas of aerospace such as air traffic control. Students may pursue bachelor’s degrees with majors in aerospace engineering, aerospace technology, professional pilot, and more. Training and educational opportunities are available through the United States Air Force or other military branches.
Training and education available in Tennessee includes the MTSU Aerospace Program which awards bachelor’s degrees in the following concentrations: aerospace technology, flight dispatch, professional pilot, maintenance management, aviation administration, and UAS operations. A Master’s degree in Aviation Administration is also available. In addition to this program, students may complete the Air Traffic Control program at MTSU and be prepared to attend the FAA Training Academy in Oklahoma City and become an air traffic controller. The University of Tennessee of Knoxville offers a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. Tennessee State University offers a bachelor’s degrees in Aviation Flight Training and Aviation Management in which the first two years may be taken at Columbia State Community College.

Some Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) offer aviation related programs. TCAT Nashville, TCAT Morristown and TCAT Memphis offer an Aviation Maintenance Technology diploma for Aviation Airframe and Power plant Maintenance Mechanics. Northeast State Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Technology. TCAT Morristown and Northeast State have signed an articulation agreement to make it easier for students to transfer their aviation credits.

A clear pathway is developing for students concentrating on UAS. Other states already have a statewide UAS program and curricula built for high schools. The study of unmanned aerial systems is emerging within postsecondary programs across the country and worldwide. At least 50 accredited colleges worldwide offer bachelor’s degrees in UAS, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who also offers a Master of Science in Unmanned Systems. Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) added a concentration in UAS operations within the B.S. in Aerospace degree in the Fall of 2015. The mission of the MTSU program is to prepare students for a prosperous career in the newly forming UAS marketplace, in professions such as UAS operator, consultant, or manager for UAS programs. The aligned coursework for the UAS operations concentration requires students to build and fly UAS in addition to preparing for the private pilot license for manned vehicles and studying in many interdisciplinary areas including electricity, computer science, GIS, agriculture, and business.