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How to Get FAA Certified for Drones

It’s common in this day and age to own and operate drones. There are numerous commercial and personal applications for drone flying, but regardless of the intentions for use, it is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to abide by the Small UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) Rule. In order to become FAA certified, a Remote Pilot Certificate is necessary. This document indicates understanding of operational requirements and proficiency in conforming to safety standards.

To become an FAA certified drone flying pilot, one must:

  • Have reached 16 years of age
  • Read, understand, and fluently speak English
  • Be physically, emotionally, and mentally capable of safely operating a drone
  • Pass an aeronautical knowledge test


Remote Pilot Certificate

  • This certificate must be readily accessible by the pilot for the duration of any UAS activity.
  • It is valid for two years, at which point a recurrent examination must be passed in order for the certificate to be eligible for renewal.


Becoming a Drone Pilot

Procure a tracking number from the FAA by creating a profile with the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application. This step will take place prior to the knowledge test.

Next you’ll want to make an appointment with a testing center where the exams are conducted. You’ll need a picture ID issued by the government before you’re allowed to proceed. 

To pass the initial aeronautics test, you’ll need to be knowledgeable on the subjects of:

  • Regulations for UAS operation and rating privileges
  • The impact of ambient weather on UAS performance
  • Procedures for emergency situations, managing crew resources, and radio communication
  • Assessing how well a UAS can function
  • How drugs and alcohol affect body physiology
  • Judgement and the ability to make decisions in air-space
  • How airports function
  • How to perform maintenance and pre-flight inspection


FAA Form 8710-13

This form is the Airman Certificate for remote pilots. In order to obtain it, you need to use the FAA’s IACRA – the Integrated Airman Certificate/Rating Application System.

Once you register with this system you’ll see a tab you can click on to start a new application. Under the list of applications available, click on “Remote Pilot” and then select “Other Path Information.” From there you can start the application process. 

You’ll be prompted to type an Exam ID which could take up to two full days to register. An electronic signature will be required to take the exam and agree to the terms and conditions.



You’ll receive an email when the application passes a background check by the TSA. In it, you’ll find details about how to print out a temporary certificate from the IACRA. After processing is finished, a permanent certificate for remote pilots will be mailed to you. Make sure you have it on you whenever operating a drone.


Steps To Becoming A Drone Pilot

  1. Make an account with the FAA’s “FAASTeam”, or sign in to yours if it exists already.

  2. There will be a training course on the website for you to complete: “Small UAS ALC-451.” You can expect the course to cover the same topics as listed above for the beginner’s aeronautics exam for new drone pilots.
  3. Access the IACRA by signing in to your account or making one if need be. Find the tab titled “Start New Application” and select the option for remote pilots. Select “Other Path Info” and start the application. You will be provided with instructions to follow, and then you will need to produce an electronic signature.  

  4. You’ll need to fill out Form 8710-13.

  5. Schedule a meeting with one of the following organizations/people to prove your identity. You’ll need your filled out 8710-13, your most up-to-date flight review, some form of identification with your image, and the certificate from the website course. 
    • The FSDO, or FAA Flight Standards District Office
    • An FAA approved pilot examiner
    • An FAA approved flight inspector (Keep in mind, flight inspectors are not allowed to give out temporary certificates; they can only process applications.



It’s important to be a certified drone pilot if you intend on using your drone frequently or for commercial use. All of our pilots at Aerial Southeast are certified professionals whose attention to detail earns them a rank above the rest. If you are in search of a talented crew for any aerial, construction, real estate or creative photographs, Aerial Southeast has got you covered. To get a quote, just reach out to us. We’d love to chat about your project.