If you already fly drones for fun, then it’s time to turn your hobby into a business that makes some money. The catch: before you can go full-on drone business operator, you’ll need to take and pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aeronautical Knowledge Test. Pass that test, and you’ll get a spiffy new drone pilot’s license.
Passing that test is a requirement to fly drones commercially under what’s called Part 107 (hence, you’ll commonly hear people refer to the test as the ‘Part 107 test.’)
In fact, passing the Part 107 test and becoming certified is the only way to legally make money as a drone pilot in the U.S. But the test is tricky, with questions you wouldn’t know without some sort of aviation background. Do you know how to read a sectional chart? Do you know what stratiform clouds are? Odds are (without prior aviation background), you don’t.
But it’s easy to learn — you’ll just have to put in a few hours of studying, which we recommend doing through a Part 107 online test prep course.
And now that the Part 107 test has been out for more than half of a decade (it was first made available back in 2016), there are tons of online courses out there to teach you everything you need to know (generally through video lesson format), and help reinforce it through practice quizzes, community forums and more. So how do you know which one is the best?
Here are Drone Girl’s top Part 107 online test prep courses of 2023:
The best Part 107 online test prep program if you want an established player: Drone Pilot Ground School
While slightly more expensive than our value pick, Drone Launch Academy, Drone Pilot Ground School is an established player that you know works. It’s by far the biggest of all the Part 107 test prep programs, but it’s for good reason: in most circles it’s considered the best of the best. In fact, I (Sally, the Drone Girl!) used Drone Pilot Ground School as my only means of studying, and I passed the test on my first try.
Drone Pilot Ground School has helped more than 50,000 students pass their Part 107 test on their first try (how’s that for proof that their materials work?).
- Price: $299-$525 depending on which package suits your learning style (plus use coupon code DRONEGIRL50 to save $50)
- Time needed to complete: 15-20 hours
- Pass rate: 99% across more than 5,000 students
- How long do you have access to the course before your membership expires? 2 years for their Self-Study option and unlimited for their Guided Study option
- What’s included in the price tag: video lectures, 350+ practice questions including actual FAA questions, 12 page cram sheet, 1:1 support with a Part 107 exam success coach
- What sets Drone Pilot Ground School apart: I love the 12-page cram sheet, and found it to be much more useful than the broader, 75 page e-book from Drone Launch Academy in drilling down on the exact info I needed. Drone Pilot Ground School has excellent customer service, not just in terms of billing and tech support, but in clarifying questions. I’ve emailed them with questions and gotten a quick response from the founder, Alan Perlman, himself!
The company also continuously offers up updates based on the ever-changing FAA rules. For example, there’s now an easy-to-access PDF file about rules around flying drones over people and covering updates around Remote ID.
Additionally, if you fail your test, Drone Pilot Ground School will also cover your testing fee (normally $175) if you also pass one of their practice exams with a score greater than 85% and will refund the entire cost of your Drone Pilot Ground School course if you fail.
The best major Part 107 online test prep program if you’re on a budget: Drone Launch Academy
Drone Launch Academy is not only one of our more budget-friendly picks, but it has an especial value amongst Part 107 online test prep programs by providing you peace of mind about passing. At $199, it’s $100 cheaper than our other pick, Drone Pilot Ground School, and — while it has a smaller customer base — its pass rate is an incredibly high 99.02%. It’s not just the $100 cheaper price tag that makes this a great value: if you fail your in-person exam, Drone Launch Academy will pay for you to retake it, which is an $150 value in itself, on top of a course refund (an additional $199 value).
I also love the additional community aspect you get with Drone Launch Academy. They have a newsletter, and other web extras, like the Drones to $100k podcast (we all want to make $100k off our drones!).
There is a bit of inconsistency in the quality of their videos, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s clear their content (such as filming quality and on-camera presenters) has improved over time so it feels unfair to ding them on that. But, it doesn’t take a film critic to spot which videos were made early on.
- Price: $199 (plus use coupon code DRONEGIRL50 to save $50 and bring your price down to just $149)
- Time needed to complete: 5 hours to watch the videos straight through, or 15 hours to go through all the study materials
- Pass rate: 99.02% across more than 5,000 students
- How long do you have access to the course before your membership expires? Unlimited lifetime access
- What’s included in the price tag: video lectures, 200 practice questions including actual FAA questions, 75 page downloadable e-book study guide
- What sets Drone Launch Academy apart: If you fail your Part 107 test and purchased a Part 107 Prep Course from Drone Launch Academy, the online test prep website will not only refund your entire course purchase but will also give you money to go retake the test. Customers must also have passed the internal course final exam but have failed the official version to qualify for the offer.
A great Part 107 online test prep program taught by a former Air Force pilot: John Peltier’s FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Prep Course
John Peltier’s FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Prep Course is a no-nonsense online training program that includes short videos, frequent quizzes, and simple text that cuts straight to the point. Like Drone Launch Academy, John Peltier’s FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Prep Course also comes with a test-pass guarantee.
The standout difference of this course? Peltier is a former Air Force pilot who even served as the “Chief of Courseware” during his last assignment in the Air Force. He wrote all educational material for F-15E training squadrons throughout the USAF — so he knows a thing or two about writing multiple choice questions.
It’s the cheapest of all the courses in this guide, but cheap doesn’t necessarily mean bad. If the $139 price point is too steep, there’s an option to make it even cheaper. You can pay $79 for access to the program for just 30 days (the $139 price tag includes lifetime access). Think twice before enrolling in the $79 option, as you’ll likely want to reference John Peltier’s FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Prep Course when it comes time to take your Part 107 recurrent test, which must be done every two years. But if money is tight (if you’re only just now starting out in the drone business, it very well may be), then it’s a great option. (He does offer a separate renewal course for just $49).
- Price: $139 for lifetime access or $79 for 30-day access. Use promo code DroneG20 to save $20.
- Time needed to complete: 15-20 hours
- How long do you have access to the course before your membership expires? Unlimited lifetime access (or 30 days for $79 version)
- What’s included in the price tag: 36 quizzes, 35 videos, and a money-back pass guarantee
- What sets John Peltier’s FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Prep Course apart: Peltier is an experienced instructor. He’s spent 15 years teaching more than 400 students how to fly manned aircraft, including everyone from 16-year-olds to fly two-seat helicopters, to experienced two-star generals to fly F-15Es. He has the chops to teach you what you need to know about drones.
The course also includes a Live Chat feature with Peltier himself (not a random customer support person or a robot). That means you — as a prospective or existing student — have your instructor available to answer their questions through a chat window versus having to go through email. It’s pretty neat to have direct chat access to Peltier. The only caveat? Since it’s just Peltier (and he needs to sleep, right?) don’t expect answers 24/7 — though expect it to be, say, 16/7.
You can get a great sense for Peltier’s style by reading his five Part 107 exam online tips, which reveal some tricks you can employ to pass.
If you like Peltier’s style, he also offers tons of other courses that aren’t necessarily Part 107 related but that drone pilots could certainly be interested in, including Fujifilm camera courses, and a course on how to edit and manage photos in Adobe Lightroom.
Peltier collection of drone and photography courses are great for folks who prefer smartphones over computers, as they’re also offered via a mobile app for both iOS and Android.
The best live Part 107 online course: DARTdrones Part 107 Test Prep Virtual Course
Sometimes you need that accountability when studying for a test, and aimlessly scrolling through slides and passively listening to a video won’t cut it for your learning style. If you need a little more interaction and motivation to stay engaged, there’s no better Part 107 online training course than the live, virtual test prep from DARTdrones.
Since it’s live, the course only happens on select days — typically one weekend (both Saturday and Sunday) spanning about four hours each day. It’s held live online, so you can tune in from wherever you’re at — no pants required to take this live class.
At $375, it’s pricier than the other picks, but it’s worth it for certain learning styles. You’ll get to ask questions live on the video chat system and interact back and forth with the instructor, really getting the opportunity to pick their brain.
What’s great though is the course doesn’t end when the Sunday afternoon ends. You’ll have ongoing access to a 300+ test question bank and a 50-page study guide. And yes, that $375 also includes access to DARTdrones’ full online Part 107 Test Prep Course, which on its own costs $200.
If the name DARTdrones sounds familiar, it might be because you’ve seen the company’s CEO, Abby Speicher, pitching her company on Shark Tank. There, Mark Cuban invested $300,000 in exchange for 10% of her company.
DARTdrones offers a range of other courses besides just its photo course, and some are in-person or held live online. It also has workshops tailored to specific industries such as mapping and modeling, disaster response and inspections. And, its Aerial Photography and Videography Online Course is currently rated the top overall online drone photo course.
Do I need a license if I’m only flying drones recreationally or for fun?
Yes, you need a license of sorts. But it won’t be the same Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate described above. As of June 2021, hobby pilots must pass an FAA recreational drone test, formally referred to as the Recreational Unmanned Aircraft Systems Safety Test (and reduced to an acronym of sorts as TRUST).
To get that TRUST certificate, you must take an online course (it’s much simpler than the aforementioned Part 107 test!), which takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete. At the end, there’s an online quiz that you must pass.
You won’t take it from the FAA website though. Instead, you take it from one of the FAA-approved partner organizations, which actually include many of these same aforementioned Part 107 course providers.
What is the Part 107 test?
For the uninitiated, under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107, anyone wanting to operate a drone commercially needs to obtain a drone pilot license, formerly referred to as a “remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.” In order to get that, you will need to pass an in-person written exam, which many people refer to as the “Part 107 test.”
The test, which is a set of 60 multiple choice questions with a single correct response for each one, can be taken at one of the 696 testing centers in the United States.
You can browse the FAA’s public registry of Part 107-certifed remote pilots here, a step worth taking before hiring a drone pilot to do work for you to ensure they have the certification they claim. You’ll be able to see each pilot’s certificate and their rating (including that of yours truly). Here’s what it looks like when your name comes up in the database:
How did you study for your test, and did you opt for a Part 107 online test prep course? Leave a comment below! And happy flying!