Ham radio, aka amateur radio, is the swiss army knife of communications tools. Your ability to communicate without fixed infrastructure using Ham radio is only limited by your present working knowledge and your ability to use your environment. We'll discuss what's involved in getting your ham license below.
3 Easy Steps
- Basic Requirements
- Have a valid US mailing address
- Have a valid SSN or FCC Registration Number
- Study for the test
- Take your exam ($12-$20)
- Wait a day to two weeks to be issued your callsign by FCC
Studying for the Test
There are many ways to study for the test, so the key here is to find the method that's most compatible with how you learn best. There are awesome YouTube channels, free E-Books, physical books, and online practice tests. We'll list some of those resources below.
- Ham Radio 2.0's Technician Class YouTube Guide
- KB6NU's No-Nonsense Study Guides
- HamStudy.org's Technician Class Study Guide and Practice Tests
- ARRL's Ham Radio License Manual
Again, the key here is to find the method that works best for you, or maybe it is a combination of all the above. Take the time to understand the material so you can be a more effective radio operator.
Take your Exam
Once you have studied up and are feeling confident about your ability to pass the exam, now it is time to take the exam and get licensed. There are two options here, in-person and online. At the time of this post being written, Covid has altered the availability of in-person exams. Hams banded together in light of this and created a robust online-testing system. So, you can study and get licensed from the comfort of your home now. That's pretty awesome.
- ARRL - Find an in-person exam in your area
- Hamstudy.org - Find an online session
Get your Call Sign
Assuming you took the test and passed, now all that is left to do is wait. It will take 24-72 hours for FCC to process your exam results and issue you a call sign. The process may take a bit longer if you take the exam in-person.
Once you have your call sign assigned to you, if you have an amateur radio, you can now begin broadcasting and communicating with others. You now have a sophisticated tool in your arsenal that can solve a wide range of communications challenges in almost any environment. Like anything, these tools require you to train with them, practice with others, and know what their limitations and strengths are. These are topics we cover in Portable Radios I.
Propagate and Profit
In closing, these are handy tools. Arguably they give you more capability than any other communication tool and in a lot of cases require no other infrastructure other than you and someone else with amateur radio, or just the ability to listen with a receiver. Which, it is important to note, you do not need to be licensed to listen - only to broadcast or communicate. This can be important in your communications planning.
Hope this was informative. We look forward to seeing you out.