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How do I get a Ham Radio License?

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  • Written By: Vicki Hogue-Davies
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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Ham radio operators use radio equipment to communicate with each other for fun and recreation and to assist their communities during emergencies. Ham radio operators are also called amateur radio operators. In many countries, you must be licensed by the government in order to operate a ham radio. In the United States, there are three levels of licenses available from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The rules for obtaining ham radio licenses vary from country to country, so check with the agency that regulates radio communications in your country for the specific requirements necessary to receive a ham radio license.

To get your ham radio license in the U.S., first determine what level you want to obtain. Most beginning ham radio operators pursue the Technician Class license. Achieving this lowest level license will get you on the air on verh high frequency (VHF) and ultra high frequency (UHF) amateur bands above 30 megahertz (MHz) in frequency. The written licensing exam consists of 35 questions that ask about electronics theory, basic FCC regulations and operational practices.

The General Class license allows high-frequency (HF) privileges in addition to the operating privileges of the technician license. The test for this license focuses more on HF bands. It contains 35 questions about regulations, theory and operations. The most advanced license is the Extra Class license, which contains 50 questions for its licensing exam and allows licensees to operate on all amateur radio frequencies.

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Look for classes in your area to learn about ham radio operations and to prepare for licensing. Contact local ham radio clubs and ask if they provide educational opportunities or know of any classes in your area. Community colleges sometimes offer ham radio classes and licensing preparation, so try contacting local schools. If you know someone who already has a ham radio license, consider asking that person if he or she will mentor you and give you tips on passing the ham radio license exam.

There are national and regional membership organizations for ham radio operators that provide educational information about ham radio, including where to find classes and what to expect during licensing exams. An example of such an organization is the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). This organization provides sample questions for licensing tests and a wealth of other ham radio information. Practice exams are also available online and can be found by using a search engine to look for terms related to ham radio license exams.

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