How to Get Your Amateur Radio License

This short article will get you started on your journey to becoming a licensed Amateur Radio operator. We encourage you to contact our club, or any Amateur Radio club, for more personalized help and guidance.

What Amateur Radio licenses are available to me?

Currently the FCC has designated three classes of Amateur Radio licenses, as follows:

Note: Morse Code proficiency is no longer required for any Amateur Radio license. Prior to February 2007, the FCC required a certain level of proficiency in Morse Code for the General Class and Extra Class licenses, and this proficiency was demonstrated by taking and passing the Element 1 Morse Code exam. The FCC has since done away with the Morse Code requirements and therefore Element 1 exams are no longer required nor given.

Am I qualified to obtain an Amateur Radio license?

If you are a United States citizen, or a foreign national legally in residence in the United States with the proper legal papers, you probably qualify to obtain an Amateur Radio license. Additionally, you must not have any felony convictions, and you cannot work for a foreign government.

If you are a foreign national in legal residence with the proper legal papers, you will need a Social Security number and you must file for an FRN (FCC Registration Number) with the FCC as a foreign national. Go to the following link to file for your FRN: https://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do.

How do I prepare for my exams?

The following are just guidelines you might find helpful in preparing to take the Amateur Radio exam(s).

Find a Local Club

Look for formal classes conducted by Amateur Radio clubs. Periodically classes are offered through local clubs to give students a personalized lesson approach. The following link from the ARRL web site is a good place to search for clubs in your area: http://www.hello-radio.org/clublist.html.

Obtain Study Materials

Whether you attend a class or study on your own, you need to obtain some good study materials. Below is a list of suggested books you might find helpful for each license class.

Technician Class Study Materials

Ham Radio License Manual Revised 3rd Edition: All you need to become an Amateur Radio Operator. This is an excellent book with which to begin your study. It provides a comprehensive presentation of the theory required to understand Amateur Radio.

2014-2018 Technician Class, by Gordon West. This is an excellent book to for reviewing the study material. It presents each question from the question pool one at a time and explains the correct answer.

General Class Study Materials

General Class License Manual Revised 7th Edition: All you need to pass your General Class Exam! This is an excellent book with which to begin your study. It provides a comprehensive presentation of the theory required to understand Amateur Radio.

General Class Study Manual for 2011-2015, by Gordon West. This is an excellent book to for reviewing the study material. It presents each question from the question pool one at a time and explains the correct answer.

Extra Class Study Materials

The ARRL Extra Class License Manual Revised 10th Edition. This is an excellent book with which to begin your study. It provides a comprehensive presentation of the theory required to understand Amateur Radio.

Extra Class Study Manual 2012-2016, by Gordon West. This is an excellent book to for reviewing the study material. It presents each question from the question pool one at a time and explains the correct answer.

Take Practice Exams

Once you have prepared for you exam, it is a very good idea to take as many practice exams as you can. Taking practice exams will help you in at least three major ways: First, they help you identify the areas of the study material in which your knowledge is weak. This allows you to concentrate more on those areas. Second, they are confidence builders. Everytime you take a practice exam and see that you have scored well you build your confidence and lessen your nervousness. Third, the more practice exams you take the more exposure you have to the list of questions that can appear on the exam. Practice! Practice! Practice!

Here are just a few web sites where you can take practice exams:

http://www.qrz.com/p/testing.pl (FREE)

http://www.aa9pw.com/radio/ (FREE)

http://www.eham.net/exams/ (FREE)

http://www.hamtestonline.com/ (Requires subscription)

Where and when can I take my exam(s)?

Amateur radio exams are administered by Volunteer Examiners (VEs) who are licensed Amateur Operators. Many clubs sponsor test sessions on a regular basis. Here are a couple of links to help you locate a test session in your area:

For W5YI-VEC exam locations: http://www.w5yi.org/exam_locations_ama.php

For ARRL-VEC exam locations: http://www.arrl.org/arrlvec/examsearch.phtml

The Arlington Amateur radio Club administers license exams twice monthly on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays at 10:00am at the Arlington Human Resources Building, 401 West Sanford Street, located between Cooper and Center one block North of Division.

What do I need to bring to the test session?

Please bring the following items:

Good luck!

Good luck on your studies and don't hesitate to ask for help and advice. That is why we are here.