How to Get a Drone License

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Updated June 27, 2022

Drone technology is quickly becoming a frequently used tool for many activities. Regulations have evolved so that if you want to operate one for recreational or commercial use, you need to take the FAA’s drone certification course and register your device. Below, we’ll show you how to get a drone license.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • There are two different types of licenses for drone flight: commercial and recreational.
  • Recreational certifications can be obtained in an afternoon and only require a short training course and test.
  • Commercial drones require a longer training course, more rigorous test, certification process, and a TSA security check.

Insider Tip

Although you still have to go through the testing process, you don’t have to register your drone for recreational use if it is under 250 grams.

And for more information on the best drones, check out our article on how to bring a drone on a plane.

How to Apply for a Drone License

Becoming a drone operator isn’t too hard, but it takes patience. Like most other licenses, it requires studying for a test, booking an appointment, and passing the exam. So keep on reading, and you’ll be droning around in no time.

People commonly ask about how long it takes to get your drone license. The timeframe depends on factors such as how intensely you study, how booked the licensing office is, and how many times it takes you to pass your test. However, obtaining a recreational certification takes much less time than a commercial license.

Drone Licenses for Recreational Purposes

While recreational users don’t need a license per se, they still need to be certified according to the FAA. Fortunately, the certification process for recreational use is straightforward and can be completed in about 30 minutes. There are courses online that provide both study guides and tests.

Once you have passed the test, you must register your drone with the FAA (you only have to register if the drone weighs more than 250 grams or 0.55 lbs). The registration process is also simple and costs very little for a three-year registration. After that’s complete, you’ll be set for a recreational flight.

Drone Licenses for Commercial Purposes

Getting an FAA Part 107 drone license, the type needed for business purposes is more complicated than the simple certification for recreational use. Receiving the FAA’s Part 107 license can take up to two months and cost you about $200 overall (including testing, background check, and registration fees).

The first step in becoming a commercial drone pilot is studying and going through online training for Part 107. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and covers various federal regulations, drone laws, safety measures, and certain restrictions.

Once you go through online training, book a testing appointment with the online testing center. Once you pass the test (70% is the minimum passing grade), you will have to get a TSA security background check. After that, you’ll be sent a temporary certificate. At this point, you are officially a licensed drone operator for commercial use.

Warning

You cannot get a commercial drone license unless you are 16 years of age or older.

F.A.Q.S

Do you need to register if you’re flying for fun?

As stated above, even recreational drone pilots have to go through a certification process. The FAA also requires drones weighing more than 0.55 lbs or 250 grams.


How should I prepare for the test?

The FAA offers a free training course and a comprehensive study guide that helps grasp the concepts needed to pass the test.


What constitutes using a drone for commercial use?

The regulations state that anything used for business advance (meaning it’s being used for payment or generating revenue) is considered commercial.


STAT: Only 8% of Americans own a drone. (source)

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