Becoming a Ham is simple and easy!
1 - Study Material
2 - Get your license
Exam sessions are conducted by volunteers working under the direction of the FCC. There will likely be a charge for taking the exam. The exam fee is set by the Volunteer Exam Coordinator (VEC), and is usually $15 or less. Contact the exam session administrator to determine the fee that applies to the exam session you plan to attend and to verify the session date and time. The FCC does not charge a fee to issue and print an initial license or for standard changes to a license. However, there are fees for other FCC services.
ON EXAM DAY BRING THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
- A legal photo ID (driver's license, passport).
- When no photo ID is available, two forms of identification must be presented:
a. non-photo ID/driver's license (some states still have them)
b. birth certificate (must have the appropriate seal)
c. social security card
d. library card
e. utility bill, bank statement or other business correspondence that specifically names the person; or a postmarked envelope addressed to the person at his or her current mailing address as it appears on the Form 605.
- Students may bring any of the above items and/or a school ID, minor's work permit, report card, or a legal guardian may present a photo ID.
- Bring your Social Security Number (SSN) or your FCC issued Federal Registration Number (FRN). VEC's are required by the FCC to submit either your SSN or your FRN number with your license application form. If you prefer not to give your SSN at the exam session, then you may register your SSN with the FCC before exam day. Once you have a FCC issued FRN, you may no longer use your SSN on the application. For instructions on how to register your SSN with the FCC and receive a FRN, visit the FCC's FAQ page and the FCC's registration instructions page. Please note that some exam teams will only accept a valid FRN on your application. Check with your local exam team before exam day.
- If applicable, bring the original and a photocopy of your current Amateur Radio license and any Certificates of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) you may hold from previous exam sessions. The photocopy(s) will not be returned.
- Two number two pencils with erasers and a pen.
- A calculator with the memory erased and formulas cleared is allowed. You may not bring any written notes or calculations into the exam session. Slide rules and logarithmic tables are acceptable, as long as they're free of notes and formulas. Cell phone must be silenced or turned off during the exam session and the phones' calculator function may not be used. In addition, iPhones, iPads, Androids, smartphones, Blackberry devices and all similar electronic devices with a calculator capability, may NOT be used.
- Bring a check, a money order or cash to cover the exam session fee(s).
3 - Get on the air
Amateur Radio enthusiasts know that there's a lot of knowledge and training that go into being a successful Amateur Radio operators (hams). Before you can get on the air, you need to be licensed. The rules for earning an Amateur Radio license vary depending on which country you live in. You need to know the rules to operate legally. You also need to know how to operate safely and you'll need some knowledge and training to operate successfully. Getting licensed is a long standing tradition for hams. US licenses are good for 10 years before renewal, and anyone may hold one except a representative of a foreign government.
Amateur Radio is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Communications Act of 1934. It is also subject to numerous international agreements. All Amateur Radio operators must be licensed. In the US there are three license classes—Technician, General and Extra. Each successive level of license comes with an expansion of privileges. With only 3 License Classes, getting started in Amateur radio has never been easier!
Need additional help? Call the ARRL's toll-free number at 1-888-277-5289 and request an informational Amateur Radio prospect package.