I know of people that are between the ages of 8 years old and 80 years old that have easily gotten their ham radio licenses. I did – and I am no electronics expert or broadcast radio disc jockey, etc.. Why am I qualified to write this article? Because I have taken the FCC ham radio license exams and have passed all three with flying colors. I did it quickly without a lot of expense. And now I enjoy what I consider to be THE best hobby ever! Also, I am qualified to give FCC ham radio license exams. I know what it works from the perspective of the non electronics type of person. I am an Auditor by training… I believe that if I can do it – so can you!
First – is a license really required to operate a ham radio? The answer is yes – the Federal Communications Commission requires it. And there are stiff penalties for those that would operate a ham radio on ham radio frequencies without one.
Second – WHY is a ham radio license required? I can assure you that it’s NOT just so the darn government can get rich collecting license fees. The license fees are actually quite reasonable. The last time I checked it was $15 to take the exam and getting the actual license after the exam was free. This may have changed. The exam is required so that you stay safe and stay within the operating rules and customs. Ham radio equipment deals with high levels of electrical charges and can be dangerous. Just like having to take a boating or hunting course, it’s just a good idea to get some sound training and be able to prove that you know what you are doing. Also, if you operate on the wrong frequencies before you have the specific license required you can find yourself in legal trouble.
One of the best sources for ham radio license exam information is The American Radio Relay League. This is the national organization for ham radio. Do a Google search for ARRL to find their website. The reason you want to know about this website is because it contains lists of ham radio license exams (locations, times, check-in procedures, etc.). It also contains nice graphic charts of what frequencies and modes specific FCC ham radio license classes are allowed to operate on. These are free and are quite valuable in day to day use as well as to use as study guides.
There are three levels of ham radio licenses. Technician (basic – low power), General (more power – more frequencies) and Extra (highest power allowed – most frequencies allowed). Take the Technician license exam first. Some people take two or three levels at a time. If you feel like it – go for it – I took one at a time and got them all done in a matter of a few months. I would suggest one at a time unless you REALLY know what you are doing. One test makes a long day…
The ARRL also has books and CD’s, etc. that you can buy to prepare for the exam. They are well worth the cost and will come in handy after you get your license as well. You can also take practice exams on-line as for free or for pay as well. Do a Google search for “QRZ practice exams” and you will find a good site to take them for free. I do not have a financial interest in this site – they are just used by many many hams – they provide it as a service to the ham radio community. Their site is also a good site for daily ham radio news, etc..
Study the material. Take the practice exams. You will find that most sites use the ACTUAL exam questions that will be used on the exam. There is one catch. There are something like 300 – 500 possible exam questions for a given test taker. Only something like 35 questions are chosen at random for any given exam. In general, if you take quite a few of the practice exams and get passing grades – you should pass the actual exam.
When you are ready to take the exam, search for a license exam on the ARRL site. I suggest calling the people giving the exams ahead to let them know you will be there and get any questions answered. They will explain everything you need and what you can and can not bring into the exam.
Best of luck to you! I hope to hear you on the air!
Source by Jon Kreski