This is article four of four articles exploring the Counter-UAS industry. If you haven’t read the first, second, or third article, they can be found here- The Emergence of the Counter-UAS Industry, Skimming the Surface: Counter-UAS Products, and Counter-UAS Services are a Security Force Multiplier.
The emergence of the C-UAS industry, including its recent and projected growth, provides job opportunities and opportunities to switch careers, improve existing skill sets, or broaden their knowledge of the profession through training and events.
Research published in 2022 by Aeronautical Engineering educator Vaughn College and business intelligence provider Visiongain, highlights a positive outlook for prospects looking to pursue a C-UAS-focused career, as the demand for skilled workers is anticipated to expand by over 51 percent by 2028, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 29% through 2032 (1,2).
Similar to other technology-focused sectors, the specific career categories available in C-UAS professions are expansive, consisting of Sales, Marketing, Technical Support, Research & Development, Training, and Consulting roles, to name a few. A cursory search on standard job portals using terms like “C-UAS Field Engineer” or “C-UAS Sales Executive” and then reviewing the results suggests an above-average salary compared to the median household income in the United States at the end of 2022 (3). 4
This article will overview strategies individuals can explore which may assist their transition into the C-UAS industry while highlighting some of the critical skillsets or traits employers seek in candidates. The article will also discuss events or conferences that can be leveraged to assist in networking efforts or career advancement approaches. The infographics below summarize some potential career pathways and benefits the C-UAS industry can offer interested candidates.
Finding the right fit for the job is key for C-UAS companies
Squarehead’s Director of Defense Business Development, Knut Moe, provided the following insights when asked for ideal traits in prospective employees. “The roles we are typically hiring for include Field Application Engineers, Signal Processing Engineers, Web Marketing and software development or programming professionals with a formal education or ambitious and experienced individuals who may already have worked in the drone industry for some time that we can develop.”
DroneShield CEO Matt McCrann offered an alternate perspective by sharing.” We are very particular in those we add to our team, looking for teammates who will enhance our culture and own their role in the company’s success.” McCrann also stated, ” We’re a mission-focused company. We care a lot more about individuals who fully support our end users and embody our core values of Integrity, Speed and Purpose, and Resilience over a resume that appears to check many of the boxes.”
Comments on desired candidate qualifications from Matt Quinn, VP of Government Solutions for Fortem Technologies, highlight a medium between the previous two responses. “We recruit personnel with diverse backgrounds spanning technical, sales, accounting, marketing, or customer service who are passionate about delivering best-in-class solutions that also protect the freedoms and safety of our customers.”
Lastly, Dave Swanston of UK-based Shield Counter-UAS Solutions noted the primary characteristic they seek in candidates include “Trusting the credibility of our personnel and knowing that anyone we place in front of a customer is dedicated to delivering outstanding service on every engagement is a ‘must have’ for our company. We are a values-driven business. Leading through exceptional personal values to set the standard in C-UAS consultancies is our vision for the business.”
A variety of methods are used to find C-UAS job talent
Industry employers source personnel in a variety of methods, as outlined below. Starting with Eben Frankenberg, CEO of Echodyne, who provided the following context. “C-UAS roles require technical expertise and creative solutions in equal parts, which can be challenging to find. We primarily engage in ‘word of mouth’ recruiting, looking for individuals with the background and experience that will help Echodyne expand opportunity into existing but untapped markets.”
Hidden Level VP of Strategic Initiatives James Licata described more extensive recruiting practices, stating, “On one hand, we rely on a strong reputation built over the last 20 years, having designed many systems for both commercial and DoD customers to attract prospective employees.” Licata further commented, “We complement our strong reputation with traditional recruiting methods through the use of job boards, head-hunters, and internal recruiting efforts to fill our talent pipeline, resulting in quality hires.”
Counter-UAS industry product and service suppliers responded that paid advertisements, referrals to hiring managers, and leveraging personal relationships were other methods mentioned to locate or source employee candidates.
C-UAS events and networking opportunities add value
A final aspect worth exploring is the value of networking opportunities and meeting like-minded professionals at events. Annually, many C-UAS-focused conferences, shows, events, and exhibitions occur across the globe, such as IDGA’s Counter-UAS Summit in the United States (4) SAE Media Group’s Counter-UAS Technology Europe conference in the United Kingdom (5) and ACI’s National Congress on Counter-UAS Technology in the United States (6).
Counter-UAS and airspace awareness product and service suppliers often attend, sponsor, and exhibit at conferences and events related to the military, critical infrastructure, uncrewed aircraft, and security industries. A quick review of conferences such as the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), International Security Conference & Exposition (ISC) West, AUVSI XPONENTIAL, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and Global Security Exchange (GSX) show a heavy presence from the Counter-UAS industry.
Hybrid industry events are emerging to provide additional opportunities to showcase the industry
Unique hybrid events have also emerged that combine the concepts of a conference, tradeshow, or exhibition with a live, interactive demonstration. In the coming months, two such events will happen in the high-profile areas of Huntsville, Alabama, and Washington, D.C.
One hybrid event, the Future Proof UAS & Counter-UAS Summit, will be held May 17-18, 2023, in Huntsville, Alabama. The outdoor event will feature UAS and Counter-UAS training and opportunities for attendees. UAS and Counter-UAS industry companies in attendance will have the opportunity to discuss and demonstrate their products live.
Another recently announced hybrid industry event is the 2023 Airspace Awareness and Protection Conference. This event is being held at Xelevate’s facility outside Washington, D.C., June 7-8, 2023. The Counter-UAS-themed event will include panels and speakers, product and service demonstrations with live flights, networking opportunities, and exhibitor booths.
These and similar events reflect several thousand attendees and host hundreds of exhibitors. To a prospect seeking a UAS or C-UAS career, this equates to a high number of valuable professional contacts, which may greatly aid in landing an initial role. For those already in the industry, the events represent an opportunity to network and collaborate with other individuals and companies. These meetings often result in strategic partnerships and technology integration projects.
More to come in jobs and events as the C-UAS industry evolves
This article sought to provide clarity on the tremendous amount of opportunity that exists within the expanding and fast-paced C-UAS industry. Many of the traditional roles and responsibilities that exist across current technology markets, industries, and sectors are not only necessary within companies focused on C-UAS operations but are in high demand across the globe.
The qualifications and desired experience can vary significantly across employers in many instances. Still, common traits desired in candidates, such as individual integrity, trust, or commitment to the company’s values and culture, were expressed repeatedly by industry insiders. These insights should translate into the importance of conducting extensive company research before applying with any employer to understand their core values fully, desired backgrounds, and how prospects best suit the qualifications of a role.
A brief glimpse into the multitude of C-UAS-related events highlighted the immense growth and importance of the industry in the defense, homeland security, and law enforcement sectors. These events provide opportunities to showcase products and services, interact with potential customers, network, and collaborate with other industry leaders.
Stay tuned… the industry is evolving quickly.
See article #1 in this series- The Emergence of the Counter-UAS Industry
See article #2 in this series- Skimming the Surface: Counter-UAS Products
See article #3 in this series- Counter-UAS Services are a Security Force Multiplier
1. Vaughn College Research on Drone Pilot Demand – https://www.vaughn.edu/blog/demand-for-drone-pilots-soars-uav-jobs-that-pay-over-100k/
2. Visiongain C-UAV Industry Research & Projections – https://www.uasvision.com/2022/08/09/global-c-uav-market-to-grow-at-cagr-of-29-by-2032/
3. United States Bureau of Labor & Statistics Report on Weekly Earning for Q4 2022 – https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf
4. 2023 Counter-UAS Summit – https://www.idga.org/events-counteruas-usa
5. Counter-UAS Technology Europe – http://www.cuas-europe.com/cuashub
6. National Congress on Counter UAS Technology- https://www.americanconference.com/counter-uas-technology/