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How do I get my amateur radio license?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the Amateur Radio Service, which is also known as "Ham Radio." Radio operators using the frequencies allocated to the "ham radio bands" are required to have a valid FCC license, and operate within the defined rules.
Once a license is issued, it is good for 10 years before renewal is required. There are currently 3 classes of licenses, the first license class being the "Technician" class. After passing the technician exam, you can get on the air. However, your privileges increase as you upgrade to the more advanced classes of "General", and "Amateur Extra."
The ARRL is the national association for amateur radio. In cooperation with amateur radio clubs around the country, they and other organizations publish books, provide classes, and organize training and testing sessions. Testing is typically handled by Volunteer Examiners. The Big Island Amateur Radio Club (BIARC) usually schedules testing sessions prior to club meetings and as needed. A request to schedule a testing session should be sent to Doug Wilson, KH7DQ via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many classes and training resources are available for free both online and in person. The cost of the licensing test is $15. The testing fees are non-refundable, but if you pass your technician exam you have the option to take the General and Amateur Extra exams at no additional cost during that testing session.
The ARRL website is a great place to begin learning about amateur radio. The links below are a small sample of what is online. The content under these links is not created or controlled by BIARC. It is meant to be a helpful resource to help you get started.
Step 1: Study Options:
- Purchase a book or study guide.
- Technician License Preparation Class:
The six-week courses include five training sessions, with the licensing exams given in the final week. People interested in this class should contact Doug Wilson, KH6DQ via email at email@example.com for specifics on locations and schedules.
- Videos on Youtube:
Step 2: Practice Exams:
Practice exams simulate the 35 questions on the technician license test by randomly selecting questions in each of the various categories from the official question pool. The questions on your actual test will also be drawn from this same pool of questions.
Step 3: Testing:
It does not matter where you take the test in the US, your license is good in all states, territories, and even when you are in foreign countries that have reciprocal license agreements. In recent months license tests have been conducted via video conference. You may use the following link to register for on-line FCC License testing: http://hameducation.org/register
A good place to find testing sessions near you is at the ARRL Find an Amateur Radio License Exam Web Page
Step 4: Getting Started:
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Big Island Amateur Radio Club. P. O. Box 1938, Hilo, HI 96721-1938.