As the drone industry continues its rapid expansion, a new program is creating exciting career prospects for North Carolina’s high school students in the Uncrewed Ariel Systems (UAS) field, thanks to a partnership between the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and Zipline, the world’s largest autonomous delivery service.

The demand for highly skilled UAS operators and flight operations professionals is on the rise, and this one-of-a-kind partnership provides an innovative pathway program aimed at preparing students for professional UAS careers at Zipline. To qualify, students must graduate high school, successfully complete the UAS pathway program, meet GPA requirements and provide a written letter of recommendation from a faculty member.

“The goal of Career and Technical Education (CTE) in North Carolina is to open doors to successful and fulfilling careers for our students through exposure and helping them develop academic, technical and durable skills to use in the workplace,” said Trey Michael, NCDPI’s Director of CTE. “This partnership prepares students for a viable career after graduation in a field that is rapidly expanding globally.”

Beginning in the 2024-25 school year, this pathway program will be available at more than 60 high schools across the state that offer drone technology courses in their CTE departments, where students study the fundamentals of drones, legal requirements, simulations, drone flight training, mapping and more. Qualifying students are guaranteed an interview with Zipline upon completion.

Joseph Marshall, Director of Flight Operations at Zipline, expressed his optimism about this collaborative initiative. “Zipline and NCDPI have set essential program requirements that will offer high school graduates cutting-edge aviation opportunities right after graduation,” he said. “We are confident that the pathway program will attract exceptional candidates and contribute to the advancement of the UAS industry.”

This program sets the stage for high school graduates to enter a dynamic field with tremendous growth potential. As the UAS industry evolves, this partnership between NCDPI and Zipline promises to be a game-changer for aspiring young professionals. 

To see a list of the North Carolina public high schools that are partaking in the program.


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