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Like with other industries, once China entered the drone market it quickly became the world’s largest and most prolific drone manufacturer. They make everything from drones to map urban areas, to police drones that can spray tear gas. The one thing China currently lacks in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) department is qualified pilots to operate the machines.

To alleviate the shortage, more than 40 drone piloting schools have been set up around the country. They draw many, particularly young men, who hope to find lucrative employment in a fast-growing market.

TT Aviation Technology, for example, offers a two-week intensive course for 8,000 yuan, or about $1,200. Students there learn everything from regulatory requirements to actual piloting techniques using both simulators and real drones. Once the course is finished, they can try and get a drone operator’s license from China’s Civil Aviation Administration that will allow them to fly drones heavier than 7 kg and fly at altitudes higher than 120m.

The opportunities for drone operators are quite enticing. Jobs in the field bring in at least 5,000 a month ($780), much higher than the average position. Experienced pilots can earn twice that.

And the prospects for employment not only seem good, they are. Across various industries, more than 10,000 UAV operators will be needed this year. Only 1,000 pilots hold licenses now.

Central government is throwing its support behind the growing sector. Robotics, automation, and advanced technologies are a top priority for the Asian giant keen on maintaining its competitive advantage in the face of rising labour costs.