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

Washington has so many awesome sights to explore with your drone. Before you do, double-check that you have your drone license.

How do you get a drone license in Washington?

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

  • Prove your eligibility to become a commercial pilot
  • Sign up for an FAA Tracking Number
  • Make an appointment at a Washington FAA Knowledge Testing Center
  • Study
  • Successfully take the Part 107 test
  • Send in FAA Form 8710-13

Does the process have more steps than you were anticipating? Most new pilots feel that way.

It can be a little confusing since you have so many forms to fill out on the road to becoming a licensed drone pilot, but you’re in the right place if you want an overview of the process.

I’ll explain what you need to know so you can become a certified Washington pilot sooner than later!

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Here’s how to obtain a drone license in Washington

Becoming a licensed drone pilot in Washington state begins with knowing which certificate you want.

One option is a commercial license, the Remote Pilot Certificate, with all the responsibilities and freedoms that come with it, such as being able to earn money flying your drone.

The second choice is a recreational license or TRUST certificate.

You don’t have to take an arduous exam for the hobbyist license (there is still a test, but it’s free and all incorrect answers are shown before you send in your test), but you’re giving up commercial use of your drone.

So, you chose the commercial license, eh? Many pilots go this route, which requires a lot more time, money, and prep, but it’s worth it. Here’s what you need to do.

Prove your eligibility to become a commercial pilot

The FAA is the regulatory authority for air traffic in the United States.

It sets up the rules about who can become commercial pilots to ensure everyone who uses the skies­—from drones to manned aircraft like commercial planes—can be as safe as possible.

That’s why the FAA has tight rules for who can become a commercial drone pilot.

Besides passing the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) test, you must also be 16 or older, fully proficient in English, and mentally and physically responsible enough to safely use a drone.

Sign up for an FAA Tracking Number

Now that you’re sure you can become a commercial drone pilot, you need registration into the FAA’s system by obtaining an FAA Tracking Number, aka an FTN.

You’ll use this as your identifier as you navigate toward your license.

Once you have your license, you don’t discard the FTN. It’s how the FAA determines you’re flying legally and decides on its course of action if you aren’t.

You can get an FTN by making an account on the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application, better known as IACRA.

This is an FAA-sponsored free resource you’ll use many times on your way to earning a commercial certificate.

Let’s go through how to make an account on IACRA.

  • Visit this link.
  • Click the Register link below the username and password box and above the FAA Employee Login button.
  • Select a suitable role based on your experience and credentials. At the very least, click Applicant.
  • Review the IACRA terms of service in the yellow box. Click the button if you consent.
  • Complete the Personal Information section, which asks for your email address, gender, and full name.
  • Pick from a menu of security questions, answering two of them.
  • Input a username and password for IACRA. The password needs to be 12 characters and up, using a combination of symbols, letters, and numbers.
  • Click Register.
  • Open your inbox. You should see an email from IACRA within several minutes confirming your account.
  • Log into IACRA and review your information. You will have an FTN.

Okay, but what about the Certificate Information section? No, I didn’t forget about it. You don’t need to worry about it if you choose Applicant, as that’s for your drone license, which you don’t yet have.

However, make sure you add that info if you chose any other role.

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Make an appointment at a Washington FAA Knowledge Testing Center

Remember, your FTN is an identifier, so it will come in handy for this next part, which is registering to take the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam.

The only way to do that is at an FAA Knowledge Testing Center.

The FAA doesn’t offer the exam online (and may never will, who knows?), so you’ll have to find a Knowledge Testing Center around your part of Washington and take it there.

You need an account on PSI to browse Knowledge Testing Centers. Here’s how to make one.

  • Click here to visit PSI’s website.
  • Scroll to the Create an Account button, and click it.
  • Verify yourself by typing in your FTN and full name. Click Continue.
  • When PSI allows it, proceed with creating an account by typing in your email address, full name, and a new username and password. Click Continue.
  • In the meantime, while you wait for an email from PSI, download an authenticating app that uses multi-factor authentication.
  • Open the email from PSI and click the link. You can now log in to your account.
  • Select Find a Test Center on the top menu of the PSI homepage.
  • Type in your Washington zip code.
  • Select United States as the country from the dropdown.
  • Choose a distance for searching for Knowledge Testing Centers from the dropdown. You can select between miles and kilometers.
  • Pick Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) from the Exam dropdown.
  • Click Search.
  • Select a Knowledge Testing Center near you and schedule an appointment for your exam.
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Next, it’s time to knuckle down and get to work studying for the Part 107 exam. Putting your nose to the grindstone is never fun, but it’s required for a test like this.

You see, the commercial drone exam costs $175 per try, so you’ll want to pass on Attempt #1 if at all possible.

Fortunately, it’s very much possible, especially when you use Droneblog’s beginner-friendly training courses.

That’s right, we specially curated a list just for you filled with five-star courses from the likes of Altitude University and Drone Launch Academy.

You couldn’t ask for better resources to help you prepare for the Part 107 exam and all the questions the FAA asks about procedures, regulations, and restrictions.

The course material is taught by FAA employees and other aviation experts.

You can take practice quizzes that mirror what you’ll see on the actual exam, and you can even contact an instructor if you have questions about the course materials.

Best of all, you can receive a full course refund and get your next exam paid for if you don’t pass. That’s how confident these courses are that you can master Part 107 concepts through them.

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Successfully take the Part 107 test

If you enrolled in one of the study resources I recommended, you should be more than ready for the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam.

That said, I understand you’ll still be nervous, which is to be expected.

Try to take a breath and remember you know the material. Now you get to showcase that.

The exam has 60 questions, and each is multiple-choice. You will have two and a half hours to go through the entire test booklet and respond. Any questions you miss will be marked as incorrect, so be careful.

You need a form of government-issued identification to be let into the examination room at the Knowledge Testing Center.

Most pilots bring a driver’s license, but any other form of ID with a photo suffices if it’s still valid.

IACRA will post your test results.

You should receive a notification from them that the results are ready, but don’t be terribly surprised if it takes up to several weeks. That’s normal, so it’s not like IACRA forgot you or anything.

How will you know if you passed?

You need to have scored at least 70 percent. If you didn’t quite get there, you’re eligible to retake the exam within two weeks of your first test date.

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Send in FAA Form 8710-13

Once you finally show the Part 107 exam whose boss, you can wrap up by sending in Form 8710-13 on IACRA.

This FAA form is a license request. Access the application by selecting Start New Application, Other Path Information, and Start Application. There will be two menus where you have to choose Pilot, the first being Application Type, and the second Certifications.

After you submit the form, the processing begins.

IACRA will process your request faster, which is why they issue a temporary certificate. This will tide you over until the FAA sends the permanent license in the mail.

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I have my drone license in Washington – Now what?

First of all, congratulations on reaching this point! You now have your commercial drone license in Washington, quite an accomplishment.

However, you can’t start flying until you’ve registered your drone. After you take care of that, you should learn Washington’s drone laws, as you’re going to have to follow them whenever you fly.

Let’s start locally.

  • Kitsap County only allows drones to launch and land in the area if they have Navy permission.
  • Thurston County and Olympia prohibit drone use except for “emergency fire response operations, emergency law enforcement, national defense activities,” etc.
  • Bellevue also disallows drone use except in the Marymoor Park Airfield and 60 Acres Park, and the latter requires a field request.
  • Snohomish County outlaws drones in its county parks unless used in designated areas.
  • Seattle bans drones from city parks.

Statewide, WAC 352-32-130 bans drones in state parks.

You know the drone laws now, so what else is missing? Well, you should get insurance if you don’t already have it.

I know, no law requires it, but you can never be too careful when out there on your drone expeditions, especially if you’re still learning to fly.

Mistakes will happen, and you don’t have to financially cripple yourself if they do.

The last consideration on your list is preparing for drone license renewal. I know, you’re a long ways off from this now, but those two years will go by before you know it, and you’ll need a plan.

You can easily renew your Part 107 license these days, taking a free FAA exam online.

You no longer have to pay $175 or take the stressful Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) exam every two years anymore.

This post will walk you through the entire process so you’re ready to go.