How to get a drone pilot’s license?

how to get a drone pilot's license

Recreational pilots may want to get a drone pilot’s license for various purposes.

Many hobbyist drone pilots get their drone pilot’s license merely for their 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 process 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 do you need a drone pilots’ license or not.

Who needs a drone pilot’s license?

  • A person flying drone to make money needs a drone pilot’s license;
  • A person using his/her drone for commercial purposes needs a license;
  • A hobbyist using a drone to make videographies and make money by posting those video online, requires a drone pilot’s license;
  • Individuals flying drone that weighs over 2 kilograms or 5lbs must get their drone pilot’s license 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.

Despite if you are looking forward to get a drone pilot’s license, then continue reading.

Steps to become a drone pilot:

To become a drone pilot, you need to get a certificate from the FAA. The drone pilot’s license is also known as:

However, the most common term for this certificate is the drone pilot license.

Now that you have already decided that you will 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 for becoming 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 for operating drones safely.
  • Lastly, pass the aeronautical knowledge test to apply for the remote pilot airman certificate.

Here I want to tell you about 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.

Assuming you are a recreational drone hobbyist, the aeronautical knowledge test might seem very confusing for you. All the information and jargon in the aviation industry will overwhelming quickly.

Thus you have to prepare for the test beforehand.

How to prepare for the test?

Studying for a couple of hours every day for a week, I believe you can pass the test.

There are free resources from the FAA which 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 have to purchase them mostly.

Enrolling in one of many structured courses for drone pilot knowledge tests can help you a lot.

The benefits of an online structured course is it enables you to learn quickly and gain knowledge on the various aeronautical subjects in an efficient way.

There are many courses available online, and most of them will prepare you for the test in a fortnight.


Now register online in 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 examination online.

Bring a government-issued ID to verify and take the exam on your scheduled appointment.

Step 5:

To pass the exam, one must score at least 70%. Usually, individuals who are prepared or did an online course can score over 90%. Once you pass the exam, you have to log in to your IARCA account to apply for a remote pilot airman certificate.

Step 6:

Click to start a new application and choose

  1. Pilot as your application type;
  2. Certifications for “Remote Pilot”;
  3. Other path information;
  4. 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. If you have nor prior criminal records, the email will contain instructions for printing the temporary drone pilot license.

The temporary drone pilot license is a certificate that you can print out and carry it at all times while flying your drone.


Now you have to wait perhaps up to six months to get your remote pilot license. The drone pilot license will be sent directly to you via mail after FAA approves and completes all the internal procedures.

That’s how you will get your drone pilot license.

Dron pilot license is not a license; instead, it is a certificate that certifies drone pilots that they can now use their drone 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 has a validity of 24 months.

To keep your remote pilot airman certification valid, you have to 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 will be able to show you 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 have to carry with you all time operating a drone.

Having this remote pilot certificate with you, now you can use your drone to make money.

Conclusion: Why a recreational pilot must get a drone pilot’s license?

As a recreational drone pilot, you do not need the drone pilot license.

However, the process for getting a drone pilot’s license being straightforward, I recommend all drone pilots to 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 his or her drone, 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.

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