Imagine flying a drone over the gorgeous Florida Keys or a palm tree-lined park. You don’t only have to picture it if you hold a drone license.
How to get a drone license in Florida?
Here’s how to get a drone license in Florida:
- Know the eligibility requirements
- Sign up on IACRA for your FTN
- Register at a nearby FAA Knowledge Testing Center
- Prepare for the exam
- Ace the test
- Send in Form 8710-13
- Wait for your license in the mail
This explainer guide for beginners will walk you through the entire process of earning your commercial drone certificate in Florida, including registration steps and recommendations for study materials.
Here’s here to obtain a drone license in Florida
A commercial license unlocks the potential to fly your drone for income. You also have more liberties as a commercial certificate holder than a recreational pilot.
A drone license obtained in Florida allows you to fly across the country under FAA guidelines. The license you need is known as the Remote Pilot Certificate, which differs from the TRUST certificate, the hobbyist license.
These steps will explain how to get your commercial drone license so you’re readier to take to the skies.
Know the eligibility requirements
The FAA requires aspiring pilots to be at least 16 before taking the commercial aeronautics exam, Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG).
You must also be capable of flying a drone and understanding, reading, writing, and speaking English.
Sign up on IACRA for your FTN
First-time pilots must have an FAA Tracking Number. Your FTN stays with you throughout your aeronautics career, so you won’t have to apply for another one once you have it.
Bookmark the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application website. You’ll need your IACRA account to get your FTN, check your test results, and apply for your license.
Signing up on IACRA is easy. The right-hand corner of the site has a login box. You’ll see a link to register underneath that.
Clicking the link takes you to the first of two registration pages. You’ll see a lot of checkboxes on the first page. You only have to check the applicant box for now, but if you have other credentials, you should also check those.
You must also agree to the IACRA service terms before proceeding.
Then it’s time to generate your user profile by inputting your personal information, creating unique login information, and answering two security questions.
Make sure you bypass the Certificate Information section as you register, as you don’t yet have an FAA certificate to input your Airman Certificate Number. You can go back and add this information later.
Double-check the information you inputted now, click Register, and IACRA will send you an email confirmation. Log into your account, and you’ll see your FTN.
Register at a nearby FAA Knowledge Testing Center
Having an FTN puts you one step closer to testing for your commercial drone license. Next, it’s time to find where you’ll take the aeronautical knowledge exam.
The FAA has Knowledge Testing Centers in Florida and the rest of the country that serves as test administration buildings. You cannot take the commercial drone exam online, so you must find a Knowledge Testing Center near you and do it there.
You can use the PSI site to begin browsing nearby Knowledge Testing Centers. Click the link that says Find a Test Center, then input your exam type, postal code, country, and preferred distance in miles or kilometers.
Click the blue Search button, and the PSI website will generate nearby options in Tampa, Orlando, Kissimmee, St. Pete’s, Port St. Lucie, or wherever in Florida you call home.
Next, register for the FAA exam at the Knowledge Testing Center nearest you. You’ll once again use the PSI website for this, but you’ll need an account.
Navigate back to the PSI homepage and click the white Create an Account button. PSI will ask you to verify eligibility by inputting your FTN and full name. You can continue registering if you meet the verification requirements, following the prompts.
PSI will send an account confirmation email when you finish registering. You can then log into the PSI website with your credentials and confirm your test date and time.
Prepare for the exam
With your exam date set, it’s time to get to work studying. The FAA test is difficult, but studying will adequately prepare you for the questions you’ll see on the exam, putting you in a better position to pass the first time.
You have no shortage of online drone pilot license courses to explore. Are you feeling overwhelmed by all your options? There’s no need, as I’ve compiled a list of the top courses here.
I can vouch for these courses, as they’re taught by major names in the drone industry. You’ll learn from real commercial drone pilots and other FAA experts.
The course material includes video and text components, and modules are broken up into bite-sized chunks.
You can take the course material as slowly or quickly as you prefer, as it’s often yours for life. You’ll gain access to practice quizzes, and the questions you see on the quizzes could appear on the Part 107 exam.
Oh, and did I mention many of these courses offer great guarantees? The promise is typically that you’ll get your money back if you don’t pass the FAA exam the first time, plus $165 toward your next test attempt.
The courses in the list above are available at different price points.
I know the Part 107 exam isn’t cheap, so you can find a cost-effective course that should prevent you from having to spend $165 more than once!
Ace the test
Test day has arrived, so now you can show your stuff.
I recommend driving to your FAA Knowledge Testing Center before exam day to map out the route and determine how long it takes you to get there.
Study a bit the evening before, make it an early night, and eat something nutritious before you take the exam.
Leave with plenty of time to spare and look over your study materials one more time before the exam if you can.
The Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam consists of 60 questions in a multiple-choice format. Each question has three potential answers. You have two and a half hours to answer all the questions.
You’ll receive materials necessary for the test, such as blank paper, a dry-erase marker, and a pencil. You can bring measuring tools like a protractor, as these won’t be provided to you.
Your test results will be posted on IACRA when the time comes. You might have to wait up to three weeks to learn whether you passed, which can leave you on pins and needles.
Try to put the test out of your mind until you get your results.
Send in Form 8710-13
Did you pass the Part 107 exam? Congrats! You’re ready to apply for your temporary commercial drone license.
The reason it’s a temporary license is because the FAA must process your license and mail it to you. IACRA can issue you a printable license that works the same way, so you don’t have to lose time waiting.
You must send IACRA your completed FAA Form 8710-13, which you can find on the IACRA website.
Select Start New Application, then choose Pilot > Remote Pilot > Other Path Information > Start Application.
You will need your Knowledge Test Exam ID, which should be available on your IACRA account once you get your exam results.
Follow the prompts, sign your application (electronically), and submit it. IACRA will send your application to the TSA, which will perform a background check.
After a successful background check, IACRA will email you a confirmation with the printable commercial license. Printing instructions will be included in the email.
Wait for your license in the mail
The FAA will begin processing your application, which typically takes six to eight weeks. Use your printed license until your permanent certificate arrives in the mail.
I have my drone license in Florida – Now what?
Holding a commercial drone license in Florida is just the start.
You must also register your drone before you fly. You can apply for registration through the FAA. You’ll pay $5 per drone. The registration lasts for three years.
Next, read up on Florida drone laws. You must follow federal regulations no matter where you use your drone in the US, and Florida has many local laws for pilots.
Know the rules before flying in Tampa, Pinellas County, Orlando, or DeFuniak Springs.
The state laws prohibit drones in Florida District Lands unless you have Special Use Authorization. You also cannot use your drone to take photos of a privately-owned property, owner, tenant, or occupant.
Despite that the FAA calls the mail-issued license “permanent,” your Part 107 certificate doesn’t last forever. It will expire two years after the FAA issues it. This keeps drone pilots current on their knowledge.
How do you recertify your commercial drone license?
It’s easier than ever. The FAA no longer requires pilots to take the Part 107 exam again. Instead, you can apply for your recurrent certificate by taking a free FAA exam.
The entire process takes less than an afternoon, and you can do it at home, a coffee shop, or wherever you have a good internet connection. You’ll go through a multi-part lesson, then take the online test.
You must answer all the questions correctly to recertify. Take care to go back and correct any wrong answers.
You can read an overview of the entire process here.