How to Become a Certified Drone Pilot

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Today, flying a drone is no longer just a hobby but a profession as well. Many people are making money out of it in the present time. It’s a fun job, however, it is also challenging. More than owning a drone and knowing how to fly one, there are rules and regulations you need to follow to become a certified drone pilot. If you want to become one, here are the things you need to know to become a certified drone pilot.

Advantages of Becoming a Drone Pilot

Before going down the list of requirements on how to be a certified drone pilot, let’s find out first the advantages of becoming one. These are also the reasons why a lot of people are dreaming to become a drone pilot.

  • Drones are now part of many fields of work: This is true because a lot of businesses today use drones, such as real estates to survey properties, pizza parlors to deliver pizza, and even news stations use drones to find news.
  • It will get you hired: Becoming a certified drone pilot will open a lot of job opportunities for you. Once you become a certified Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) pilot, you will be able to work professionally
  • It’s legal: When you become a drone pilot, you can fly a drone more conveniently and people will not be skeptical about you. When you apply for drone piloting jobs, they will not doubt about your skills because you’re certified.

Now that you know the advantages of being a certified drone pilot, it’s time to know how to become one.

How to Become a Certified Drone Pilot

Drones are commonly used by photographers and videographers for marketing purposes, but they are also useful in the fields of agriculture, construction, engineering, media coverage, and more. Like any other job, you need specific skills to be a certified drone pilot and those skills are taught in ground schools. That is the place where flight trainings are held for would-be pilots. Once you’re done with training and you feel like you’ve got the skills to become a professional drone pilot, then you need to have your certification.

First Time Pilots

To be able to become a certified drone pilot for commercial, recreational, private, and sports work, here is an overview of the requirements needed.

    • A remote pilot certificate: This is also known as the Part 107 drone airman certificate.
    • Must be able to speak, read, and write in the English language.
    • Should be at least 16 years old.
    • Must not have any physical or mental condition that would make the drone operation unsafe.
  • Must pass the aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center, or have a current Part 61 private pilot certificate or higher.
  • Must complete a UAS online training course provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

If you’re not yet a pilot and you want to become a certified drone pilot, you need to prepare and pass the FAA knowledge test first. The test is consisting of 60 objective multiple-choice questions and there’s a 2-hour time limit to finish it. The knowledge test should be taken at an FAA authorized testing center and there’s a fee charged by these centers. You can find here the list of approved testing centers.

To apply for the test, you need to make an appointment at a knowledge testing center. Once you pass the test, you will receive an Airmen Knowledge Test Report (AKTR) which you should keep. Once you receive the test report, you can apply online using the FAA’s integrated Airmen Certificate or Rating Application (IACRA) tool online. When you complete the security background check, you will receive a confirmation email which contains instructions for printing a copy of the temporary remote pilot certification from IACRA. Once the internal processing is complete, you will be able to receive your permanent remote pilot certificate via mail.

For Existing Pilots

If you’re already a pilot, it does not mean that you can fly a drone for commercial, sport, private purposes in an instant because you also need to follow a process.

If you are certified under part 61 and you have a current flight review in accordance with 14 CFR 61.56, you need to pass a FAASTeam online exam. This online examination is free. However, if you do not have a current flight review, you need to take the knowledge test following the same process for first time pilots.

To apply, you need to complete the FAA Part 107 sUAS course exam. Once you complete it, you will receive a completion certificate. Then, you can apply online using the IACRA tool. You also need to validate your identity by contacting an FSDO, an FAA-designated pilot examiner (DPE), an airman certification representative (ACR), or an FAA-certificated flight instructor (CFI) and make an appointment.

After that, you need to present the completed form from the IACRA tool along with the online course completion or knowledge test report and proof of a current flight review. You will sign the completed form after the FSDO, DPE, ACR, or CFI examines your photo identification and verifies your identity. After you sign, an FAA representative will then sign your application.

Once you finish the steps, an appropriate FSDO representative, a DPE, or an ACR will issue you a temporary airman certificate. Then when all other FAA internal processing is complete, you will receive your permanent remote pilot certificate via mail.

For more details about the tests and certifications needed, you can check out the FAA’s website.

Being a drone pilot is a wonderful job especially that it’s a booming career in the present time. However, becoming a certified drone pilot is not that easy. But I guess once you go through all the training and tests and complete them all, you will not only become a certified drone pilot, but a highly-skilled one as well.