If you’re considering getting a drone license, then you must already be dreaming of all the earnings you will get once your drone business launches. But have you accounted for the costs you will need to spend before you can start you drone business? On top of the price of your drone and all its accessories, you will have to spend some more to register your drone and get a drone license.
A Part 107 drone license, or remote pilot certificate, is now required by the FAA for drone pilots who conduct commercial drone operations. The process of getting a drone license isn’t exactly complicated, but you do have to pass the Part 107 knowledge test. How much do you need to be willing to invest if you want to fly your drone commercially? Read on and find out.
Before we even talk about pilot certification, we have to tackle drone registration. All drones that weigh between 0.55 and 55 pounds need to be registered with the FAA. This a quick and painless process which will only set you back a mere $5.
Signing Up for the Test
With drone registration out of the way, it is now time to sign up for your Part 107 knowledge test. You can make an appointment to take the test with either of the 2 companies that supervise the test, namely CATS and PSI. No matter which one you choose, you will have to pay a fee of $150.
Studying for the Test
This is the part where aspiring drone pilots are likely to diverge in their paths. Preparing for the knowledge test is a serious matter, and we have repeatedly recommended putting in some serious amount of effort and focus on it. What is the best way to prepare for the test? Well, your mileage may vary – it all depends on how much time you have, and how much you are willing to spend.
Resources for preparing for the Part 107 knowledge test abound online. They are available in various forms – reading materials, videos, podcasts, quizzes, sample tests – and can be either paid or free. In fact, we have published our very own free Part 107 study guide on our website. We have compiled a helpful little list of the more popular resources that you may use to prepare for the Part 107 test.
|FAA Online Training Course||Reading materials, study guide, videos, sample test||FREE|
|Remote Pilot 101 Webinar||Youtube video||FREE|
|Drone Pilot Ground School||Videos, reading materials, practice tests, sample questions||$299|
|Drone Launch Academy Remote Pilot Exam Prep Course||Video lectures, study guide, sample questions||$179|
|DARTDrones||In-person lectures, online training course, study guide, sample questions, access to resource person||$670|
|UAV Ground School||Video lectures, flash cards, interactive quizzes, sample tests||$199|
|BOOKS AND E-BOOKS|
|FAA Official Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge||Official FAA Handbook||FREE to download from the FAA website|
|UAS Remote Pilot Study Prep||Access to up to 5 practice tests in the ASA website||$15.50|
|Remote Pilot Test Prep 2018||Access to up to 5 practice tests in the ASA website||$13.36|
|Remote Drone Pilot Certification Study Guide||1-year membership to RemotePilotAssociation.com||$47.74|
|Drone Test Part 107: A Study Guide and Practice Test for Acing the FAA Exam||Over 200 sample questions||$4.99 (Kindle)|
|Professional Drone Pilot’s Handbook & FAA Remote Pilot Test Guide||Used by the Association of Professional Drone Pilots||$56.39 (Paperback), $49.99 (Kindle)|
You’ll notice that the costs between training courses and books vary greatly. The choice of which resource to use is up to your budget, and the learning style that you think best suits you
Failing the Test
To pass the knowledge test, you must answer correctly at least 70% of the questions. If you fail, you will be allowed to re-take the test after 14 calendar days. If you’re curious whether you have to pay the $150 testing fee again when you re-take the test, unfortunately, the answer is yes. This means that spending a little to take a training course or to buy a study guide may, in the end, be cheaper than having to re-take the exam several times.
Summing It All Up
All that being said, getting a drone license will cost you at least $155 and up to $825. This does not count the cost of the drone and its accessories, and the cost of retaking the exam should you fail the first time. It can be a pretty hefty amount, but there is a bright spot in all of this.
Once you have your drone business up and running, then you will be required to pay taxes on your profits. However, tax regulations state that you are allowed to deduct “all the ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business”. This statement seems clearly applicable to any flight training course, including the course to prepare for the Part 107 test.
Tax regulations further clarify that the expenses for education are deductible if “the education (1) Maintains or improves skills required by an individual in his employment or other trade or business, or (2) Meets the express requirements of the individual’s employer, or the requirements of applicable laws or regulations, imposed as a condition to the retention by the individual of an established employment relationship, status, or rate of compensation.”
What all of this implies is that you may be able to get back some of the expenses you have incurred for Part 107 training in the form of tax deductibles – perhaps up to 30% of the cost of the training course or study material. If this possibility is something that you would like to explore, we recommend that you consult with your tax advisor for best results.
If you have plans to fly your drone commercially and legally, then you really have no choice but to get a Part 107 drone license. This comes with a few necessary expenses which you’ll need to prepare for, not to mention a considerable amount of time and effort. Consider these as investments towards building your future drone business.