From capturing photos and videos to racing and everyday fun, drones can deliver the entertainment and perspective you cannot get with any other device. The amateurs and the professionals can find deep enjoyment as drone pilots, flying their UAVs worldwide. If you plan on making some money with a drone, however, you will need a license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
It is relatively easy to get a license, but you need to be 16 years old at least. You have to be proficient in English as well, you have to meet minimum physical and mental drone operator standards, and you have to pass an FAA exam. Here is a step-by-step guide to how you can get a drone license. Don’t miss it!
Your Step-by-Step Guide:
#Do you need a license?
No license is required if you are flying your drone for recreational purposes. If your drone weighs more than 0.55 lbs, you must register it.
If you plan to use your drone for commercial use, even part-time or freelance, you will need a license under the FAA Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Rule (Part 107). Commercial drone pilots can find work in various industries, including real estate photography, freelance videography, aerial surveys, and other situations where a helicopter would be too dangerous or too expensive.
#Create an Account
Once you are ready to get your license, then the first thing you will need is an FAA Tracking Number (FTN). You can quickly get this by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile.
Next, you will have to pass an aeronautical knowledge test. This aeronautical knowledge test covers questions about drone laws, limitations and flight operation, airspace classifications, weather, flight restrictions, emergency procedures, and more. There are online courses and study guides for this aeronautical knowledge test. You will need to score at least 70% to pass.
#Schedule your Exam
You need to find a local knowledge testing center and schedule your exam. The test consists of 60 multiple-choice questions, and you will have two hours to complete the test. You will need a government-issued photo ID like a driver’s license or a passport to register for the exam.
Once you have your license, then you will also be required to:
- Maintain the drone registration every 36 months, and you need to keep the registration card with you when you are flying.
- You need to keep your license up to date by passing the recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months.
- Report any accidents to the FAA within ten days of any operation resulting in injury or property damage.
Recreational pilots may want to get a drone pilot’s license for various purposes.
Many hobbyist drone pilots get their pilot’s license merely for curiosity.
I say this because FAA certifies thousands of pilots annually with a remote pilot airman certificate.
Recreational drone pilots are unaware of how to get a drone pilot’s license and all the processes of getting a permit.
Nevertheless, the process of getting a drone pilot is pretty straightforward.
In this article, I described step by step:
How can a hobbyist get a drone pilot’s license? Similarly, tips on preparing for the drone pilot’s knowledge test.
This article will guide individuals through all the challenges that do not know the materials of the knowledge test and the process for obtaining a drone pilot’s license.
First, let’s determine whether you need a drone pilot’s license.
Who needs a drone pilot’s license?
- A person flying a drone to make money needs a drone pilot’s license;
- A person using their drone for commercial purposes needs a support;
- A hobbyist using a drone to make videographies and make money by posting those videos online, requires a drone pilot’s license;
- Individuals flying drone that weighs over 2 kilograms or 5lbs must get their drone pilot’s right regardless of intended use.
You do not need a drone pilot’s license if your intention for flying a drone doesn’t match any of the above.
If you are looking forward to getting a drone pilot’s license, continue reading.
Steps to become a drone pilot:
To become a drone pilot, you must get an FAA certificate. The drone pilot’s license is also known as:
- The remote pilot airman certificate;
- FAA Part 107 license.
However, the most common term for this certificate is the drone pilot license.
Now that you have already decided to get your drone pilot’s license, you can do so by following the steps below.
The steps mentioned below are only for drone hobbyists in the United States of America. And the process is according to the Federal Aviation Administration‘s regulations.
The process for obtaining a drone pilot license may vary for each country. However, the procedures are similar everywhere.
STEP 1: Know whether you are eligible to become a drone pilot or not.
- You must be 16 years old at the time of application for your drone pilot’s license.
- Fluent in English reading, writing, speaking, and communication. English is the universal language for aviation purposes. Knowing English is essential for any pilot’s certificate.
- Your physical state should be excellent and capable of safely flying drones.
- Individuals under medication or not mentally stable cannot apply for a drone pilot’s license as they are not eligible to operate drones safely.
- Lastly, pass the aeronautical knowledge test to apply for the remote pilot airman certificate.
Here I want to tell you how you can prepare for the aeronautical knowledge test.
Anyone who has knowledge of the aviation industry or has an aircraft pilot’s license knows what might be the subjects of the aeronautical knowledge test.
STEP 2: Prepare for the aeronautical knowledge test.
The aeronautical knowledge test might confuse you if you are a recreational drone hobbyist. All the information and jargon in the aviation industry will become overwhelming quickly.
Thus you have to prepare for the test beforehand.
How to prepare for the test?
I believe you can pass the test by studying for a couple of hours every day for a week.
There are free resources from the FAA that you can use to acquire knowledge for the test.
Here is a FREE PDF by FAA: Remote pilot study guide. This study guide is a good one to prepare for your drone pilot’s license test.
There are numerous other online resources, but you must mainly purchase them.
Enrolling in one of many structured courses for drone pilot knowledge tests can help you a lot.
The benefit of an online structured course is it enables you to learn quickly and gain knowledge on various aeronautical subjects efficiently.
There are many online courses, most of which will prepare you for the test in a fortnight.
Register online on the Integrated airman certification and rating application website to obtain an FAA tracking number. Getting a tracking number is crucial before scheduling your knowledge test.
Step 4: Scheduling examination date.
At this point, you can schedule a date for your knowledge test with your nearest knowledge testing center.
Visit PSI Exams to schedule a date for your online examination.
Bring a government-issued ID to verify and take the exam on your scheduled appointment.
To pass the exam, one must score at least 70%. Usually, individuals who are prepared or have done an online course can achieve over 90%. Once you pass the exam, you must log in to your IARCA account to apply for a remote pilot airman certificate.
Click to start a new application and choose
- Pilot as your application type;
- Certifications for “Remote Pilot”;
- Other path information;
- Start application.
Follow the application prompts.
Once they prompt for your 17-digit exam ID, input your exam ID number. Remember, it may take 48 hours for the IACRA to acknowledge your exam ID number.
- Finally, you have to sign your application and submit processing.
You will receive a confirmation email once your TSA background check is complete and reflects no criminal records. The email will contain instructions for printing the temporary drone pilot license if you have prior criminal records.
The temporary drone pilot license is a certificate you can print out and carry while flying your drone.
You must wait up to six months to get your remote pilot license. The drone pilot license will be sent directly to you after FAA approves and completes all the internal procedures.
That’s how you will get your drone pilot license.
A Drone pilot license is not a license; instead, it is a certificate that certifies drone pilots that they can now use their drones for commercial purposes.
Therefore a drone pilot license is called a remote pilot airman certificate.
How long is the validity of your license or RPAC?
According to the FAA regulation, your drone pilot’s license is valid for 24 months.
To keep your remote pilot airman certification valid, you must take a recurrency test before it expires.
You can schedule a date for a recurrency test a month before your license expiration.
After you pass your recurrency knowledge test, you can show a renewed drone pilot’s license or certificate.
When can you start flying with your drone pilot’s license?
It might take up to 48 hours to get your confirmation email. The confirmation email will have your remote pilot certificate and instructions to print it out.
After you print out this remote pilot certification, you must carry it with you all time while operating a drone.
With this remote pilot certificate, you can now use your drone to make money.
Conclusion: Why a recreational pilot must get a drone pilot’s license?
You do not need a drone pilot license as a recreational drone pilot.
However, getting a drone pilot’s license is straightforward; I recommend all drone pilots get their remote pilot certification.
Why do you think I recommend that?
Getting a drone pilot’s license is inexpensive, and taking the aeronautical knowledge test builds awareness in drone pilots.
After taking the knowledge test, drone pilots become better at operating a drone safely.
Likewise, a recreational pilot might open doors to making money using their drone by having a drone pilot’s license.
So why shall you not get the license? Is there anything that is holding you back?
Let me know your answers in the comment below.