So you want to get your drone pilot’s license, which is a critical step in becoming a professional drone pilot. Relatively few people pass the test through self-study alone. Instead, most enroll in one of the myriad Part 107 classes.
Part 107 is a shorthand term for a set of regulations established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governing the operation of drones flying for commercial purposes (which includes, yes, your small business). Once you’ve earned your drone pilot’s license (which is formally called a Remote Pilot Certificate under Part 107), you can legally fly drones for business. To earn it, you must pass a written test, which is called the FAA Part 107 UAS Aeronautical Knowledge Test.
Part 107 classes come in two distinct forms: in-person and online. Depending on your personality and learning style, one type of class will likely be far superior to the other.
What to know about in-person versus online Part 107 classes, and how to decide which is best for you:
In-person Part 107 classes: the pros and cons
In-person Part 107 classes typically entail traditional classroom settings, which means face-to-face interaction with instructors and fellow students.
Where to find in-person Part 107 classes
You might find one being offered at your local community college.
Another excellent provider of in-person Part 107 courses is DARTdrones. Its flagship program, the Professional Wings Program, teaches you how to fly, how to get your Part 107 license and how to plan and execute missions all in one course, which typically spans a weekend.
The full weekend course costs about $1,500. Though, you can opt for only the Part 107 training portion, which is less than half that price.
Though pricey, the DARTdrones course can be worth it as it’s also an AUVSI TOP 1 Certified Training program. Plus, for drone pilots who want to level up their knowledge even more, DARTdrones offers a separate Trusted Operator Program™ Level 2 Remote Pilot Certification.
Benefits of in-person Part 107 courses
So why are in-person Part 107 classes especially great?
Accountability: As is the case with any sort of class that demands you be physically present, enrolling in an in-person Part 107 class can force a level of accountability that you don’t get from the online course where you might be tempted to let your mind wander — or you might log off earlier than you’d intended.
Personalized attention: When you have a question, getting answers in an online course can be difficult given that you might have to search through the materials on your own, or email the instructor and wait for the response. With an in-person class, you can get you that answer immediately, simply by popping your hand up for the instructor.
Networking opportunities: Interacting with other aspiring drone pilots could help you build valuable connections. You might find your next business co-founder, or simply create a support group of folks entering the field from a similar place.
Flying practice (sometimes): Some in-person Part 107 classes also entail hands-on flight training (sometimes with simulators or even actual drones). Though there is no practical portion of the FAA’s test, learning how to fly your drone from a professional can be a smart move.
Drawbacks of in-person Part 107 classes
Limited flexibility: Classes have fixed schedules and locations, which might not work for everyone’s busy lives. You’ll also have to account for logistics (like travel time) to get there.
Higher cost: In-person classes are generally more expensive than online options. I’ll dive deeper into the prices down below, but expect in-person to be way more expensive. For example, whereas DARTdrones charges about $1,500 for a weekend of in-person droning, you could enroll in an online Part 107 course for less than $300.
Inability to work at your own pace: With an in-person class, all the information is thrown at you at once and you can’t go at your own pace. For people new to the industry, that can be overwhelming.
“I quickly learned within an hour of this two day class I was in over my head and needless to say I didn’t proceed further because I had no idea of the intensity of the knowledge that was required,” one reader, Kim, wrote in to The Drone Girl after enrolling in a Part 107 course through a local community college.
For people like Kim, online Part 107 classes turned out to be easier to stick with. Here’s more about their benefits:
Online Part 107 classes: the pros and cons
Companies like Drone Pilot Ground School and Drone Launch Academy offer online courses that consist of interactive modules made up of video lessons, practice quizzes and text to read.
Where to find online Part 107 classes
I made this one easy on you by offering up an official guide to the best online Part 107 courses. But, I’ll save you a click and highlight some top contenders:
- Drone Pilot Ground School offers a fantastic online training course with practice tests and repeatable videos. This is what I used to study for my test — and I passed on my first time — so I can guarantee it’s a good program! Use coupon code DroneGirl50 to get $50 off. It includes numerous quizzes, a one-page Part 107 study guide, access to weekly newsletters with the most up-to-date news and more.
- Drone Launch Academy offers another great online training course led by FAA-certified Advanced Ground Instructor David Young. Use coupon code DroneGirl50 or this link to get $50 off.
- John Peltier’s FAA Part 107 online training course is taught by a former Air Force pilot and instructor with more than 15 years of teaching experience. He’s one of the best manned aircraft instructors out there, so it makes sense to want to take his digital course on drones. All Peltier Photo Courses (whether the Part 107 course or other drone and photography courses) are available via a mobile app for both iOS and Android.
Benefits of online person Part 107 courses
More flexibility: Web-based Part 107 courses provide flexibility and convenience, allowing you to learn at your own pace and schedule, whether that’s late at night or in between tasks at home.
With an online course, you have more flexibility and freedom to study at your own pace – and in ways that jive best with your learning style. One Drone Girl reader said they bought a dry erase board to spell out their Part 107 goals.
Lower cost: If the $1,500 price tag I shared above for an in-person course like DARTdrones has scared you off, take solace in knowing that online courses are generally more affordable than in-person options.
All of my top picks for best online Part 107 courses cost less than $300. I used Drone Pilot Ground School to study, and I passed the test on my first try. Their base level course (which is honestly all I used) is $299, but you can use coupon code DRONEGIRL50 to save $50 and bring your price down to $249.
My other recommendation, which I consider to be my budget pick, is Drone Launch Academy. Their course is even cheaper at $199. They also have generously hooked up Drone Girl readers with a coupon code. Use coupon code DRONEGIRL50 to save $50 and bring your price down to just $149.
Live instructor interaction (sometimes): Some Part 107 classes can also offer the best of both the in-person and online worlds via a live instructor option.
Drawbacks of online Part 107 classes
Limited interaction: You might miss out on the personal touch and real-time feedback of an instructor.
Requires self-discipline: Staying motivated and focused in a self-paced environment can be challenging for some types of learners.
No hands-on experience: It’s unlikely you’ll find practical flight training in an online course. While actual flying won’t be tested in the FAA’s test, every professional pilot should have gone through professional training — which might be best done in person anyway.
The bottom line: in-person versus online
Ultimately the decision to enroll in an in-person versus online course comes down to your own learning style — and your budget.
In-person courses can force more accountability, while also offering valuable networking opportunities and even drone flight training.
But online courses tend to be self-paced, meaning you can study whenever your brain is ready — and no commute necessary. Plus, you’ll have ongoing access to materials so you can rewatch videos on units that you didn’t grasp as well. Of course, the far lower price tag is a huge benefit.
Which type of Part 107 course worked better for you? If you passed the Part 107 test, tell us how you studied in the comments below!