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Being able to communicate is critical during an emergency. If you don’t already include a ham radio in your survival gear, I would recommend getting one.

Getting an amateur radio license can help you receive accurate information in the face of a crisis. Known as amateur radios, these gadgets can be the tool you need before help finally arrives.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the following questions (and looking at different resources):

  • How much does it cost to get a ham radio license?
  • Can you get a ham radio license online?
  • Do you need a license to operate a ham radio?
  • How long does it take to get a ham radio license?

Let’s discuss ham radios and how to get a ham radio license.

More helpful reading:

How does a Ham Radio Operate?

A ham radio is made up of a receiver and a transmitter.

These are often purchased as a single unit known as a transceiver. Modern-day transceivers come with slightly complex menu systems and controls. You may have to read through a manual to understand how to use them. Still, you can find an old model transceiver complete with easy to understand controls in the market.

These come with analog controls and are more ideal for beginners. Hand-held transceivers come with individual antennas. The majority of hams operate from an automobile with the help of a magnetic mount antenna connected to a hand-held radio, or under-ash receiver.

Power Output

The amount of power required can vary between a few milliwatts depending on the size of the desktop or handheld gadget.

Many ham radios are an upgrade from the citizens band (CB) radio. However, unlike the CB radio whose power limit is watts, hams require more power. Ham radio can easily fit in various locations. These include: inside your shirt pocket, inside your car, on your desk, at your garage, or even in the attic area.

What You Need Before Getting on Air

Before you can finally use a ham radio, you should be familiar with the radio service rules involved in operating a ham radio legally, prepare by taking an online test, as well as pass the final written test.

Today, acquiring a license is an easy process. The following will show you how to learn about using these radios, and, finally, how to get your ham radio license using online classes to prepare.

Determine Your Preferred Ham License

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates digital and analog station communications across radio service bands and the ham radio network – and has developed an operators test for licensing in the form of an exam session.

Interested parties can choose between three types of licenses: general, technician, or extra.

Each amateur operator license you hold grants you varying privileges on the air. It’s worth noting that the technician license is critical and the FCC requires that everyone must pass these examinations before getting the remaining licenses.

The Technician Class License

This is an entry-level amateur radio communications licensing certification.

To qualify for the technician class license, you need to tackle a simple 35 multiple question sheet in your class exam. Each examination question is derived from a collection of questions. The ham technician class license examination is ideal for you if you only want to talk within a community, town, or city.

Technician Class Ham Radio License Frequencies

Band Frequencies (In MHz) Mode Notes
80 Meters 3.525 – 3.600 CW 200-watt limit
40 Meters 7.025 – 7.125 CW 200-watt limit
15 Meters 21.025 – 21.200 CW 200-watt limit
10 Meters 28.100 – 28.300 CW, RTTY, Data 200-watt limit
10 Meters 28.300 – 28.500 CW, Phone, Image 200-watt limit
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

Technician License How To Video

General License

This is a secondary level communications license class.

To qualify, you should complete a moderately difficult 35 multiple choice class exam. Each question is derived from a collection of 500 questions in these exam sessions.

This license is specially designed to facilitate communication during emergencies. With general licensing, both you and the emergency crew will communicate over ham frequency bands when local lines malfunction.

General Class Ham Radio License Frequencies

Band Frequencies (in MHz) Mode
160, 60, 30 Meters All amateur privileges
80 Meters 3.525 – 3.600 CW, RTTY, Data
3.800 – 4.000 CW, Phone, Image
40 Meters 7.025 – 7.125 CW, RTTY, Data
7.175 – 7.300 CW, Phone, Image
20 Meters 14.025 – 14.150 CW, RTTY, Data
14.225 – 14.350 CW, Phone, Image
15 Meters 21.025 – 21.200 CW, RTTY, Data
21.275 – 21.450 CW, Phone, Image
17, 12, 10 Meters All amateur privileges
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

Extra License

The amateur extra class license is the most advanced communications class exam.

Attaining it can be a daunting task. To qualify in these exam sessions, you need to complete the 50 multiple-choice question examination. Each class exam question is derived from a collection of 70 questions.

The additional amateur extra class license gives you comprehensive licensing privileges within the ham radio bands network. Further, it enables you to communicate at a local, national, and international scale.

Studying for the Test

Here, licensees will concentrate on studying for the first ham radio technician license. As we’ve mentioned before, you’ll need this license issued before you can acquire the other licenses.

According to Steve Whitehead, a volunteer examiner from Provo, Utah, you’ll need to be conversant with various frequency bands, basic safety, operating regulations, basic arithmetic, and electronic and electrical principles to study for the technician license.

After passing the technician test, attendants will have access to frequencies above 30 megahertz. This allows users to communicate locally, and also allows users to communicate locally with minimal struggle.

With the technician license, you can enjoy some limited privileges on shortwave bands. You may be interested in knowing that you can search all the questions and answers for the different licensing exams in books and online.

You can get a majority of the study materials for exam sessions free and all you need is to conduct extensive research to find an answer for them.Note that that the questions available for classes online with different licensing categories change every two years.

Often, websites will take longer to update the licensing test questions, which is why you should exercise caution to make sure you’re using the updated version.

5 Easy Steps Video

Take the Test

In many states, the Amateur radio classes exam costs 15 dollars. Exam sessions are available every month in various states. Interested parties will need to contact a ham radio club in their locality to establish how much the test costs. Parties will also need to establish the exam session in their state. Once you get your FCC amateur radio license, it remains valid for the next 10 years. When you pass the test, the FCC assigns you a call sign. This is an identifying marker or code name that you can use across radio bands.

If you’re worried about having to learn morse code, the rules have changed and now morse code is no longer required.

Acquire a Ham Radio

Now that you’re licensed, it’s time to find a radio.

While the exam classes may not be costly, the radio itself can be a costly investment and prices can fluctuate. For instance, an amateur radio license holder from Virginia acquired his first radio and got a Handie Talkie that cost $130.00 along with a car antenna that cost $40.00.

Today, his radio costs $700.00. The price fluctuates depending on various factors such as; how you plan to use your radio, your experience, and understanding of the amateur radio lingo, and where you’ll use the radio.

Assuming you want to purchase a radio but have no idea how to go about it, the best thing to do is consult your club members. They can guide you through the best radio depending on your situation. They can also recommend ideal places to buy a radio at friendly prices.

Get Familiar with Radio Service Rules

“just like any other community, there are established procedures and behavioral expectations using a Ham Radio. You need to fit in and know what others expect of you on the air. You gain this knowledge by using your radio and talking to other Hams. Swearing and CB “lingo” used on citizen band radios are not tolerated and are a violation of FCC rules. All communications must be “in the clear” and hiding the meaning of your communication is not permitted.” – Steve Whitehead

Additional Practice Makes Perfect

Even after taking your classes, you’ll need to practice until you perfect the art of using an amateur radio. Your skills will come in handy during an emergency. Remember, one of the best ways to survive an emergency is to be prepared.

With a proper strategy and the knowledge of what you need to do, you can make it through an emergency much easier.

To become an experienced radio operator, you should use it regularly. Waiting to use it during an emergency can put you in a difficult situation since using amateur radios to connect with others across different bands can be difficult.

What does Ham Radio Stand for?

Ham radio is a term popularly used to describe an amateur radio. The term was derived from HAM, which is the casual name for an amateur radio operator.

It was not until 1920 when the term gained popularity in the United States. After that, the term would later be adopted in various other English speaking countries.

What to Expect During Your Ham Radio License Test

In the past, amateur radio license tests were conducted by FCC employees at the federal office buildings. Today, however, the tests are offered conveniently by friendlier examiners in classes. Still, taking an exam can cause feel daunting.

Preparation is the key to performing well. Take time to prepare for different aspects of the exam. This way, you’ll feel prepared when examination day finally arrives.

What You Need for the Ham Radio License Test

You will need the following items during your license test:

  • Two identification forms complete with one photo ID. This can be an employer’s identity card or even your driver’s license.
  • Some pencils
  • Your social security number
  • A blank scratch paper
  • A calculator

If you’re taking the test to upgrade to a higher class and you already have a license…. you may have to bring;

  • Your current original license as well as a copy
  • Any original certificate of Successful Completion of Examination you possess and a copy of the same. Remember, this certificate will prove that you passed the test to qualify for one or more licenses. In case you only passed the Technician exam, you’ll need to wait for the FCC to allow you to get on the air. If you’re seeking to acquire other license changes, then the Certificates of Successful Completion of Examination allows you to start operating immediately with your newly acquired privileges.
  • Though optional, you can use your FCC Federal Registration Number (FRN) in place of your social security number.

Remember, the use of any online gadget isn’t allowed during the exam. However, disabled persons can be allowed to use them. Still, they’ll need to confirm with the test administrators about the use of these gadgets. Every test period comprises three basic steps as seen below.

Exam Registration

Sign in at the exam session using your name, address, and call sign if you already have one. The test administrator will then inspect your identification and other documents you may have.

Proceed to pay for the test.

Taking the Test

The starting time will depend on the number of people already signed up for the test and the different types of tests you have to complete. You could begin immediately in a smaller session.

However, in the case of a larger session, you may have to wait longer.

How Long Does Test Take?

Each test takes between 15 and 45 minutes. Organizers can have everybody begin and finish the test together. They can also choose the continuous method.

Complete the Test

Once you’re done with the test, you can complete it and hand over your test papers to the supervisors. You may need to wait a little longer for paper grading.

What Grade Will I Need to Pass?

To pass, you’ll need 75% or better than that.


Amateur radio can come in handy to help you communicate with rescuers during a crisis. Getting a license will help you purchase and utilize one for your safety and that of your loved ones.

And that’s how to get a ham radio license…

More helpful reading:

Ham Radio License FAQ

Can you get a Ham Radio License Online?

No. It’s impossible; however, you can prepare online and tackle the test from a computer. Confirm the rules with your local clubs that could supervise the tests in local colleges and schools, and on computers.

Do you need a License to Operate a Ham Radio?

No. you’ll need a license to buy the equipment and to listen to the numerous amateur radio frequencies. Still, you’ll need an FCC license to communicate on amateur radio frequencies in the USA.

How Old Should you be to Get a Ham Radio License?

18 years and above.

How much does the FCC Ham Radio License Cost?

The technician ham radio license shouldn’t cost more than $15.

How Long Does It Take to get a Ham Radio License?

it takes approximately 90 to 120 days to get your license.

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