Most drones are easy to fly and require little training to learn how to operate them. However, if you are looking to start a drone photography business and want to fly them for commercial reasons, you may require some form of training. This is so that you can fully familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations with regard to flying drones for commercial operations. After a lot of research, I have compiled this list of some of the best drone courses in the UK and USA.
What Qualifications Do I Need To Fly A Drone?
In the USA, you will need a Part 107 certificate to fly drones for commercial purposes, to obtain this certificate, you will need to complete a multiple-choice test. This covers a lot of topics and although the FAA does provide some reading recommendations to help you prepare and pass the test, it’s highly recommended that you get some professional training to increase your chances of passing the first time.
There is a fee that is payable to the FAA to tale the Part 107 examination, currently, it’s $175, but this may change in the future. Keep this in mind if you do decide to purchase a drone training course.
In the UK, it’s a little different, after some recent changes to the law, there is no major distinction between flying for recreational and commercial purposes.
If your drone has a camera, you will need to register it by obtaining an Operator ID and it if weighs over 250 grams, you will also need to obtain a Flyer ID.
It’s best to obtain both the Flyer ID and Operator ID if you want to fly for commercial reasons. The Operator ID has an annual fee of £9, while the Flyer ID is free and lasts for 5 years.
However, flying drones in the UK falls under 3 categories, the category you fly in will depend on the level of risk associated with the drone mission and the weight of the drone
The Open category is probably what most people will be operating under, it has 3 sub-categories, which are the A1, A2, and A3, for the A1 and A3 categories, you do not need any additional material other than the ID’s mentioned above.
However, for the A2 sub-category, you will need an A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC) from the CAA.
The CAA does not oversee the assessment for this certificate, instead, they authorise companies that specialise in drone training to administer this assessment and provide the certification, these are known are Recognised Assessment Entities (RAE’s).
There are plenty of RAE’s in the UK and some of them I have listed below.
The second category is called the Specific category, flying in this category will require the drone operator to obtain an operational authorisation from the CAA.
To obtain this authorisation, the applicant must carry out a risk assessment of the drone operation and send it to the CAA.
As part of the operational authorisation, the drone operator must also show the competency of the pilot who will be involved in this mission.
To make things easier for drone operators to complete these assessments and get an operational authorisation from the CAA, the CAA has developed a certification called the General VLOS Certificate or GVC for short.
To obtain this certificate, applicants must complete a theory test and a practical flight test that will be overseen by an RAE.
There is a fee for the operational authorisation and it is payable to the CAA, keep this in mind if you do decide to purchase any GVC training courses.
Obtaining the GVC isn’t very long and can be completed in a week.
How Much Does A Drone Training Course Cost?
This will depend on what you are studying for and if it is classroom-based or mostly online and if it involves some practical assessment.
For example, in the UK, most RAE’s charge less than £100 to obtain the A2 CofC which is all online, while the GVC which will require a practical flight test assessment and maybe even some classroom-based study session can cost up to £400.
Training costs for the Part 107 Certificate that is required for US residents for commercial operations usually costs less than $300.
Best Drone Training Courses (UK)
With over 4000 reviews on Trustpilot and a 5-star overall rating, UAVHUB is the best rated drone training provider on this list. They have a number of drone training courses that include subjects like cinematography, land surveying and flight training.
CAA A2 CofC – Cost – £99- 5 hours of videos covering everything you need to know to pass the A2 CofC test. You get to complete as many mock exams as you like to fully prepare yourself and take the actual exam once you are ready and receive the certificate on the same day.
GVC –Cost – £349- 8 hours of video content, they help you complete the operations manual and oversee the online examination. You will have to book a flight assessment at one of their training facilities to complete the training.
One of the leading drone training providers in the UK, Coptrz offer a multitude of training courses that covers many areas of drone applications in the commercial sector. They are also premium partners of DJI, Parrot and Wingtra and offer a multitude of courses including one on starting a drone business.
A2 CofC – This is a free online course, however, there is a fee of £99+VAT to take the exam.
GVC – £499- £999 + VAT – They provide a few courses to obtain the GVC qualification, the most expensive is their classroom-based course, which takes place in Leeds, London and Edinburgh. Obviously, there are only limited spaces, so you will have to book months in advance if you prefer this method of learning. For the practical flight assessment, they have 11 locations, and they offer a couple of online GVC courses.
Established in 2008 specialising in model helicopters, they have successfully manoeuvred themselves into the commercial drone sector and offer a wide range of drone-related services. They offer several training courses and have specific training for drone surveying and the emergency services. They have provided training services to several large organisations like Balfour Beatty, Derbyshire Police, The National Grid and Network Rail.
A2 CofC – £249.99- Delivered via their own Learning Management System (LMS)
GVC – £749.99 – Delivered via their LMS, you get free resits should you fail the theory exam and the practical flight assessment. They also help you complete your operation manual and provide ongoing support throughout the whole process.
Drone Pilot Academy
DAP offer a number of training programs and also offer a bespoke service to organisations that need something more tailored to their needs. One thing different about DAP is that you will be required to attend all courses in person, this is why their courses are more expensive than the rest.
A2 CofC – £195+ VAT – A one-day course that also includes flying assessment to reinforce what you learnt during the study session. This course also includes free drinks and meals.
GVC – £995+ VAT, or £1095+ VAT for residential – This is a 2.5-day course that is limited to only 8 students per course.
Established in 2015, UAV Academy is a well-established CAA approved drone training provider. Most o their courses are all online and they have 7 locations for any practical flight assessment that may be needed. They offer the cheapest GVC course on this list and have a lot of positive reviews on their Facebook page.
A2 CofC – £99 – All study materials are provided and include multiple quizzes for each module to test what you have learnt. The theory exam is completed online and is overseen by a remote invigilator.
GVC – £648 – All study is online and includes multiple quizzes after each module to help you remember what you have learnt. They also help you with writing up your operational manual and make sure it is up to standard before sending it to the CAA. The practical flight test can be taken at one of their 7 facilities.
Best Drone Training Courses – Part 107 Certificate (USA)
Drone Pilot Ground School
Probably the most popular drone training provider in the USA for the Part 107 certificate, Drone Pilot School has enrolled over 35000 students since its opening in 2016 and has a 99% success rate. Drone Pilot Ground School is a company that specializes in providing individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to become a licensed drone pilot. The company’s mission is to provide high-quality training for those who want to pursue drone piloting as a career.
The course includes over 70 videos, 1-1 support, quizzes at the end of each lesson to reinforce what you have learnt and over 350 practice questions from previous Part 107 exams. You also get access to a weekly newsletter. exclusive job tips, ongoing support and free access to any material that is added after you have enrolled.
Cost – $299, but if you go in a group, the cost is reduced per person.
Drone Launch Academy
Drone Launch Academy provides a number of training programs for drone pilots. They have a comprehensive course on the Part 107 Certificate which boasts a 99%+ success rate. They offer courses on drone aerial photography, drone business start-up and drone roof inspection.
The course for passing Part 107 costs $199 and there is a significant discount if it is booked in groups. It is delivered via videos that have been optimised for mobile so you can watch them anywhere you want, and the instructors are all FAA certified. You also get access to an eBook study guide, over 200 practice questions and weekly live webinars.
Pilot Institute offers training programs for aspiring drone and aeroplane pilots and have helped tens of thousands of people obtain the relevant FAA certification they need. Their course for the Part 107 Certification is one the cheapest on this list and it boasts a 99% pass rate, and they even promise to refund the FAA fee for taking the test should you fail.
The FAA 107 course costs $149 and is delivered by an FAA-certified instructor, it includes 15 hours of video content, cheat sheets, unlimited practice exams, mobile app flashcards to strengthen your knowledge and lifetime access.
DroneU offers a wide range of drone training programs, from aerial photography and drone mapping to starting a drone-related business, their courses are both online and in-person. They also host the most popular drone podcast, Ask DroneU, which has over 3 million downloads.
The Part 107 training program consists of over 11 hours of video content, a comprehensive study guide with over 2500 pages and hundreds of quizzes and practice questions and a 12 part video refresher course that will help you brush up when you have to renew your Part 107 license. To access this and all the other courses, DroneU have a monthly subscription plan of $47, which is a bargain for what you get.
This company was recently featured in an episode of Shark Tanks, their CEO, Abby Speicher, got a deal with Mark Cuban, who promised to invest $300,000 into the company for a 10% share. They have a wide-range of drone training programs and offer customised solutions for companies who want something tailored to their specific requirements. Drone Darts have online, and in-person training courses and their instructors are all highly qualified and FAA certified.
The Part 107 course can be taken online or in-person with the latter you get a more hands-on approach, and it is more expensive. The class size is limited to 12 and it is a one-day course lasting around 8 hours.
With both versions of the course, you get access to a 50-page study guide, over 300 practice questions, a monthly webinar, an online learning portal and free access to any updates. The online version costs $250 while the in-person course is $670
These are just a small number of drone training courses that are available in the UK and USA. If you are thinking of operating drones for commercial reasons, these courses will help you attain the skills and knowledge to help you pass the necessary examination in whichever country you are residing in.