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How to Get a Drone License in Iowa (Explained for Beginners)

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The Hawkeye State of Iowa has many places for drones to take flight, including the Dale Maffitt Reservoir in Cumming, Big Creek Lake in Polk City, and Paragon Prairie Tower in Urbandale.

You must have a license before you launch your drone, so how do you get one?

How to get a drone license in Iowa?

Here’s how to get a drone license in Iowa:

  • Meet the FAA criteria
  • Obtain an FAA Tracking Number
  • Register at an FAA Knowledge Testing Center
  • Study for the test
  • Take the Part 107 test and pass
  • Request your certificate through Form 8710-13

Registering to take the Part 107 exam (which you must do to obtain a commercial drone pilot’s license) is admittedly complex, especially for beginners.

This guide will demystify the process so you’re one step closer to flying a drone in Iowa.

Here’s how to obtain a drone license in Iowa #

I must make an important distinction before we get underway. The FAA has two drone licenses aspiring pilots in Iowa can apply for: a recreational or commercial license.

The recreational or hobbyist license is for pilots who fly for fun. It has more restrictions than a commercial license, known as a Remote Pilot Certificate.

These steps detail how to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate so you can make cash from your drone and enjoy the full breadth of flight freedom.

** » MORE:** How I Passed Part 107 (& The Course That Helped Me do That)

Meet the FAA criteria #

In keeping the skies safe for all, the FAA only allows those who meet its requirements to test for a commercial drone license.

Are you at least 16 years old? So far, so good. Do you know English?

The FAA requires full comprehension, including reading, speaking, writing, and understanding. The Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam is only administered in English.

Lastly, are you in good condition to fly a drone? The FAA requires pilots to be in proficient mental and physical shape. That’s a judgment call to make all your own.

Obtain an FAA Tracking Number #

Are you eligible to take the Part 107 exam? Great! Now you can get the process underway.

The FAA issues each new drone pilot entering its system an FAA Tracking Number or FTN. You use this identifier for all FAA-related activities, not necessarily only flying drones.

It’s also a means of verifying your identity, which you must do to register for the commercial exam.

How do you get an FTN? Visit the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application or IACRA website here.

IACRA is an FAA website with features like aircraft search, ratings, certifications, and registry processing dates.

Bookmark the link, as you’ll use your IACRA profile a lot, including to check your test results and request your certificate when the time comes.

You probably don’t have an IACRA account, so that’s the first order of business. The registration link is on the upper right-hand corner of the homepage under where you log in. Click it to begin.

The first page requires you to select a role. First-time users should only select applicant. However, I recommend reading through the other roles and checking off any that apply to you.

You must check off at least one role and agree to the terms of service to proceed. You can move on to the second page once you do.

The second page starts with a certificate information section.

Bypass this for now, as you don’t have a commercial drone certificate yet. Skip to the section called Personal Information, filling in all the form fields.

Next, select two security questions and unique answers.

Then you can create your IACRA login information, including your username and password. Confirm the password, click the register button, and wait for an email from IACRA.

You can then get your FTN, accessing it anytime in your IACRA profile.

Register at an FAA Knowledge Testing Center #

You’ve got your FTN, so you can verify your identity when registering to take the Part 107 exam.

The exam is administered at FAA Knowledge Testing Centers, nationwide flight academies and examination services. You must take this exam in person, as the Part 107 test is not offered online.

You can begin searching for a Knowledge Testing Center nearest you by visiting the PSI website here. PSI is a testing resource and FAA partner.

Type your postal code, choose your country from the dropdown, and select the distance in miles or kilometers. The exam type you’re seeking is Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG).

You will see Knowledge Testing Centers from Ackley to Warren with directions for each.

However, you can’t register to take the commercial drone exam until you make an account on PSI.

Click the link marked Home on the PSI website, then the Create My Account link. Here, you’ll input your full name and FTN for verification. Click the blue Continue button when you’re ready to proceed.

Follow the prompts to create your account. PSI will send a confirmation email after you register. Log in and confirm your test location, date, and time. 

Study for the test #

Now it’s getting real! You will soon take the Part 107 exam in the hopes of earning a Remote Pilot Certificate.

This is a paid, timed exam, so there’s a lot of pressure. It also doesn’t help that the questions cover every FAA regulation.

Aspiring pilots always want to pass the first time, and I’m sure you’re in that same boat. How can you increase your chances? Study, study, and study some more.

However, don’t choose just any resource for studying. You want high-caliber instruction that will adequately prepare you for the road ahead.

I recommend beginner commercial drone pilot license courses. These courses are led by some of the biggest names in the industry, like Pilot Institute or Altex Academy.

You can trust you’ll learn from professionals with years of flight experience. Some instructors are even former FAA employees, so they understand commercial drone regulations.

You can take practice quizzes to identify your weaknesses, request one-on-one instruction in most courses, and retake or rewatch lessons until you understand the material thoroughly.

Commercial drone pilot license courses are available at different price points, but almost all offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t pass. You will even receive $165 for your retake exam.

Click here for my full list of preferred beginner-friendly drone courses. I can’t recommend enrolling enough!  

Take the Part 107 exam and pass #

Test day has arrived, but you’ve put so much time into studying that you feel ready.

I recommend getting a good night’s sleep, eating a nutritious meal, and leaving early so you reach the Knowledge Testing Center with time to spare.

What will you need to take the Part 107 exam?

You must have a government-issued photo identification card, like a driver’s license. You can bring tools such as protractors and calculators to help you, but no smartphones in the testing room.

You will receive all other instruments integral to taking the test, including blank paper and a dry-erase marker, among other materials.

The Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam consists of 60 questions in multiple-choice format.

You will have two and a half hours to take the test, so get through as many questions as you can. You should have enough time to answer them all if you pace yourself.

You can answer 18 questions incorrectly and still score the required 70 percent to pass. If you don’t pass, you can take the Part 107 exam again two weeks after your first examination date.

IACRA will post your test results. They can appear several days to weeks after you take the exam, so stay patient, as hard as that is when you’re waiting on pins and needles.

Request your certificate through Form 8710-13 #

Persistence and hard work pays off, which is why you’re proud to announce you’ve passed the Part 107 exam. Great work!

You were probably already on IACRA to check your test results, but in case you weren’t, log in. Next, select the Start New Application option to begin Form 8710-13.

IACRA will ask you to select an application type, so choose Pilot. Next, under the Certifications section, pick Remote Pilot. Click Other Path Information, then Start Application, and follow the prompts.

Your Knowledge Test Exam ID, which is stored in your IACRA profile, is required, as is an electronic signature.

So what is Form 8710-13? It’s an FAA form requesting your temporary Remote Pilot Certificate.

Don’t worry, your permanent license will arrive in the mail soon, but the FAA has to process a lot before mailing it to you, so the temporary license is a good stand-in.

IACRA will forward your information to the TSA, which will run a background check.

You must pass this before you receive an email from IACRA with a download link to save and print your temporary license.

I have my commercial drone license in Iowa – Now what? #

Being a commercial license holder in Iowa sure is sweet, but you’re not ready to fly yet.

You must register all commercial drones with the FAA regardless of their weight. You will pay $5 per drone to register it for three years.

Now is a good time to consider drone insurance. You don’t need it, per se, but it’s like a safety net if something goes wrong with your drone flights.

Take this time to familiarize yourself with federal FAA guidelines and Iowa’s state drone laws.

You must be ready to recertify your license. Yes, despite that it’s called a permanent license, it only lasts for two years.

The FAA needs commercial pilots to stay current on changing laws and regulations, hence why you must recertify.

» MORE: Drone Laws in Iowa

You used to have to take the Part 107 exam every two years, which was time-consuming, stressful, and expensive.

Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Now you can take a free online exam through the FAA, which is much more convenient.

Here is a great post on our blog explaining the entire process.

» MORE: Renewal of Your Part 107 Certificate


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