Although we provide a lot of useful information about drones here on our blog, we understand that drone knowledge is not something that most people pick up overnight. Drones are complex machines with a lot of rules and regulations surrounding them. You might wish to improve your UAV knowledge with a drone course or two. Should you? Is it worth it?
Drone courses are certainly worth it, especially for beginners. Many online drone schools offer free or low-cost courses on beginner drone terminology and concepts so the barrier to entry isn’t too high. If you decide to get into more advanced drone concepts, then you can pay for costlier courses.
This guide will examine the pros and cons of drone courses. Then we’ll delve into our favorite beginner-level drone classes from some of the top online drone schools. By the time you’re done reading, you can decide for certain whether a drone course is right for you.
The pros of enrolling in a drone course
Let’s begin by examining the upsides of drone courses. This is a pretty long list, admittedly, but that’s a testament to the value of these courses.
Most courses are online
You’re more than likely thinking of pursuing drone flight as a hobby, right? If so, then you’re wondering how you’re ever going to have time to take a drone course on top of all your other responsibilities in life, be that work, school, family, or all three.
Don’t worry. No one is telling you to enroll in a physical university or school. Drone courses are predominantly online these days.
This gives you the freedom to learn when you have time, not according to some curriculum that rushes you along.
Whether you complete your drone course in a week or a month, that doesn’t matter so much. What’s more important is that you finish the course!
Select only the courses you want
Although the idea of an online drone school might make it seem like you have to pay for an assortment of classes, that’s not how many drone schools work. Instead, you’d select the courses you want and pay for only those.
If that’s one course to start with, then that’s totally fine. You might find that you enjoy the course materials or that you learn so much from a drone school that you decide to buy another course.
Then again, if you get everything you need to know out of one single course, there’s no pressure to purchase another.
Many beginner drone courses are free
The creators of drone schools are usually professionals in the realm of UAVs, but there was a time when even these people were first discovering their interest in drones as well.
They know that in the beginning, when you’re not sure if you’re going to stick with flying drones as a hobby, the last thing you want to do is drop a fortune on a drone flight course.
Across many online drone schools that we’ve reviewed in-depth on the blog, beginner drone courses are either offered for free or for much lower costs than the other courses.
Maybe you’d pay $49 for a beginner course versus $100+ for a more advanced course.
This keeps the barrier of entry low so you can learn to fly a drone and buy your first beginner drone without spending an arm and a leg. If you decide that flying drones isn’t for you, then at least you didn’t lose too much money.
Of course, should you decide to stick with the hobby, then you will gradually spend more money as you upgrade your drone and perhaps enroll in more advanced online drone courses.
Video lessons you can watch and re-watch
How is a drone course lesson structured, you ask? Although it varies from school to school, most drone schools that we’ve discussed on the blog favor video lessons.
Even if a chapter is divided into 10 lessons, each video lesson is two to five minutes so you can easily digest the material.
The great thing about a video lesson is that you can stop and go as you need to. If you want to pause, rewind, or fast-forward, you can do that (not like we recommend you fast-forward through valuable material!).
You can also watch the video, again and again, ad infinitum until you understand the concepts that are being taught to you. You can even take notes as you watch a video, stopping it as needed.
Supplementary material like practice quizzes solidifies lesson content
When you pay for a drone course, you’re rarely only purchasing the video lesson material. Plenty of drone courses throw in supplementary material to make learning easier and sometimes more fun too.
You might get flashcards, checklists, study sheets, practice questions, and cram sheets to help you prepare. This allows you to get more out of your lessons (and thus your hard-earned money) so you learn more efficiently.
Most course materials are yours for life
Here’s another big perk of taking an online drone course. Even though you may only pay for the course materials once, they’re yours for as long as you need them. You can take a break from drones and come back to the material after a year (or more) to get yourself reacquainted.
The cons of enrolling in an online drone course
As much as we recommend drone courses (especially online courses) to aspiring drone pilots, we understand that these courses aren’t perfect. Here are some noteworthy downsides.
Some courses can be expensive
Whether the audience is beginners, intermediates, or seasoned experts, the cost of some drone courses can be steep. Of course, most online courses offer discounts and sales throughout certain periods of the year that can offset the costs.
No hands-on training
If you’re hoping for hands-on drone training, that’s not something you’re going to find at an online school.
As immersive and informative as online courses can be, they cannot replicate the experience of a professional standing next to you guiding you during your drone flights.
Should that be something you need, you’ll have to enroll in an offline, in-person course.
No critiques and feedback
A few of the online drone schools we’ve discussed do offer live feedback, but there are a few caveats.
First, you usually have to pay an additional fee for this one-on-one feedback. Second, these live sessions are often catered towards starting and maintaining a drone business more so than they are basic drone flight concepts.
If you’re hoping for critiques and feedback on the spot, then we again recommend an in-person drone course.
You must have a drone to get the most out of the courses
Were you hoping to learn how to fly a drone without actually owning a drone? It’s not impossible, per se, but it’s very difficult.
You’ll get more out of a drone course if you own a drone and can follow along with the lessons rather than learning a bunch of material and hoping to apply it later when you someday buy a drone.
Some drone schools are more focused on Part 107 exams than anything else
Most aspiring drone pilots who are interested in drone schools are trying to pass their Part 107 exam. This is a test issued by the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA that commercial drone pilots must pass.
If you ace the test, you earn your Part 107 license, which is good for two years. In the two years that your license is valid, you can fly your drone within legal airspace and earn money from the UAV.
Almost every drone school you find will offer some Part 107 training. Some though, focus on the exam too much and don’t offer as much content in the way of beginner drone instruction and concepts as they do Part 107 prep.
Should you invest in a drone course?
Is a drone course the right plan for you? Although there are certainly downsides to consider, we’d still recommend a drone course–especially an online one–for beginner drone pilots.
The amount of time you’d spend researching articles online and watching YouTube tutorials to learn to fly a drone can be better spent absorbing the nuggets of knowledge that professional drone pilots, videographers, photographers, and business owners can share with you through a course.
Yes, reading articles and watching YouTube videos is free, but isn’t it worth paying for something of value? We think yes, and drone courses can certainly be highly valuable.
If you’re interested in enrolling in an online drone course for Part 107 exam prep but you’re concerned you’d fail, there’s no need to stress. Many online drone schools have money-back guarantees if you by chance don’t pass the FAA exam after taking their course.
You can get the money back that you spent on the course and sometimes you’re even refunded for what you paid to the FAA for the Part 107 exam!
The best online drone courses for beginners
You think you’re going to sign up for an online drone school, but where do you start? Based on our extensive research into online drone schools, here are three courses we recommend for beginners.
Drone Flying 101 – Pilot Institute
Pilot Institute lives by the phrase, “aviation made easy.” You’ll realize how easy it can be to pick up and fly a drone when you take the Drone Flying 101 course this online drone school offers.
More than 1,200 drone students have followed in your footsteps, which says a lot!
The Drone Flying 101 course includes nearly five hours of video lessons divided into six parts or topics. You’ll learn about all the components included with the average UAV, FAA regulations and airspace rules, and how weather influences drone flight.
The team of professionals behind Pilot Institute prepares a checklist for your first flight so it can be a success. There’s even a lesson on beginner’s videography and photography!
The course costs $99 but is often on sale for $49. Plus, the course material is yours for life.
Drones 101 – Drone Launch Academy
Do you hope to someday make a job or even a career from flying your drone? Then you’re in the right place. Drone Launch Academy is a professionally-led resource for mastering drone flight inside and out.
The Drones 101 course will provide the foundation on which you’ll build your drone knowledge. The course will go over all the many parts of a drone both external and internal.
Next, you’ll learn about the way that drones are utilized in industries and what the future holds.
This online course even includes flight exercises to practice at home. You get eight exercises in all, and each are designed for practicality.
The Drone Launch Academy Drones 101 course costs $49.
14-Day Drone Pilot – Altitude University
Brandon Trentalange is a young drone master who has shown that age doesn’t matter when it comes to drone mastery. He shares his expertise through Altitude University’s video lessons.
The 14-Day Drone Pilot course is perfect for someone of your skill level.
Trentalange promises to teach you everything you need to know about drones in only two weeks. The course goes over topics such as what drone equipment you need, recommended drone camera settings, and FAA rules and regulations.
After that, you’ll learn about flight modes, drone maneuvers, recording, editing, and drone apps. By the time you’ve passed the course, you’ll understand drones a whole lot better, and you’ll be ready to begin making money using your drone.
Drone courses are an untapped resource that beginners and even seasoned pilots should strongly consider. You can become equipped with all the tools you need to pass your FAA Part 107 exam, or you can learn how to make money using a drone.
As a drone beginner, you can quickly look like a more experienced pilot by taking an online drone course. We hope you strongly consider enrolling!