Getting Started

To get started, it normally takes an initial investment of around $2,000 for a professional UAV, camera and landing pad. You will also need an FAA certificate to fly a UAV for commercial use.

Here’s a checklist to get you started:

UAV Checklist

The FAA views all UAV activity featured on this site as commercial operation, so know the requirements and state laws.

You don’t need any previous experience to become a certified pilot, but you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Proficient in English
  • Pass a TSA background check
  • Pass a written aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved testing center
  • Pass a recurring test every 24 months

Learn how to become a drone pilot

It is always important to first decide what the needs are for your operation before purchasing a UAV, selecting your camera, or even planning your flight.

Drone systems range anywhere from $800 to $25,000 and come in fixed-wing or multi-rotor options. Fixed-wing UAVs are the best choice when covering a lot of ground quickly. However, image quality can suffer due to speed. Multi-rotor UAVs give you more control and are the best option for accuracy and resolution. On the downside, most multi-rotor UAVs require a charge or battery swap every 50 acres.

The FAA requires you to register your UAV under “part 107” and label your aircraft with a registration number.

Learn how to Register your drone

Depending on the UAV, you will need to download the proper software to plan your flights. Here are a few free options.

How much you need depends on the drone, location and industry.

Learn about Drone Insurance

extension uav training programs

The Purdue Cooperative Extension Service is piloting a UAV Signature Program teaching individuals UAV technology legal requirements, FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Knowledge Test preparation, and useful UAV applications. Every participant will get hands-on experience flying manual and planned UAV flights.

learn more