student flying drone

Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Degree, AAS

Find a career in the exciting and cutting-edge field of drone technology. San Juan College offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) that you can complete in two years. Our program teaches you how to build, develop, and customize drones. Build the skills necessary to become a licensed drone operator and start your career at San Juan College.

Why Enroll in a Drone Training Program?

Drone professionals use small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS) to shoot photos and take videos. Industries that rely on this technology include:

  • Agriculture
  • Film
  • Government and military
  • Real estate

Study essential principles such as principles of flight and safety protocols. Earn the flight experience you need to qualify for Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) licensure. Gain knowledge and practical experience in this exciting and growing field. By completing a drone training program, you'll stand out from other job applicants who don't have industry-specific qualifications.

Why Earn a Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Degree From San Juan College?

Gain Hands-On Experience

Our SUAS program offers firsthand training in operating and maintaining drones. Learn from experienced faculty and practice your skills through classroom and lab exercises that allow you to maintain and customize drones, making you a more well-rounded and experienced drone operator.

Our program also partners with SJC's Film and Digital Media Arts program, so you can explore how to use drones in film shoots and other media. We'll also help you connect to internship opportunities in our community for more real-world experience.

Prepare for FAA Remote Pilot License

To become a licensed drone operator, you must earn your FAA Remote Pilot Certificate. SJC's SUAS degree offers the knowledge and skills to pass the FAA Part 107 exam. Our courses cover local and FAA regulations, emergency procedures, and other vital topics.

Access More Career Opportunities

With the rapidly growing demand for drone pilots, employers seek candidates who stand out. Our SUAS associate degree program provides a comprehensive education that sets you apart from those with only a certificate. Get practical training flying drones and critical thinking and problem-solving skills to make you an asset in any field you enter.

Affordable Drone Degree Program

Because of SJC's low tuition rates, our drone training program is a great investment. We even provide drones for you to practice with during your degree program. You may also qualify for NM Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships, through which you can get your degree tuition-free.

What You'll Learn in the Associate Degree in Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

Build the skills and knowledge to become a licensed drone operator and begin your career. Get the hands-on experience you need to operate and maintain SUAS. In our curriculum, you'll study important topics, including:

  • Data management and acquisition
  • Mission planning and execution 
  • Piloting techniques
  • Preparation for obtaining FAA Part 107 certification
  • Safety protocols and regulations

You'll also take photography and digital imaging courses and round out your studies by completing general education courses. They help you develop valuable critical thinking and problem-solving skills useful for any job environment.

Small Unmanned Aerial Systems AAS Curriculum

Transfer Options

If you wish to transfer to earn a bachelor's degree in small unmanned aerial systems or a similar program, we strongly encourage you to meet with your academic advisor. They help you to choose the right classes to help you transfer to a four-year institution.

Previous SUAS degree students have transferred to:

  • New Mexico State University
  • New Mexico Technical University
  • The University of New Mexico

Learn More About the Transfer Process

Hawk Tank winners

A Winning Business

In 2021, three Small Unmanned Aerial Systems program students joined in founding Zia Drone Operations, LLC. They entered their business plan into Hawk Tank, a business competition, and won the grand prize! Learn about their story and how SJC's drone program has changed their lives.

Careers and Outcomes

By completing the Small Unmanned Aerial Systems program at SJC, you'll gain firsthand drone experience and work toward FAA licensure. With a growing demand for drone technology, you'll find job opportunities in many fields. Employers for drone operators include:

  • Agriculture companies
  • Construction, engineering, and inspection groups
  • Entertainment industry
  • Government agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service
  • Insurance companies
  • Real estate agents and companies
  • Security companies
  • Surveying companies
  • U.S. military
  • Video and photography companies

Some of the career paths available to SUAS graduates include:

  • Data management and processing
  • Data processing
  • Mission planning
  • Photography
  • Piloting
  • Videography

SJC even helps connect you to your next job. Check out our employment board, which lists career opportunities for drone pilots.

Explore Our Drone Operation Job Listings

Student Success Stories

Next Steps

You must first apply to San Juan College to enroll in the Associate of Applied Science in Small Unmanned Aerial Systems program. It's easy, and you can apply online at any time!

Apply Now

If you are already a student at San Juan College, talk to your advisor about our drone training program. 

Find Your Advisor

Phone: (505) 566-3320

West Classroom Complex,
Room 1911

M-F 8 a.m - 5 p.m

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