Getting a Ham Radio License

Perhaps if you are reading this you are already licensed or possibly have an interest in obtaining a ham radio license. If you fall into the latter category, hopefully you will find this page helpful.

There are currently three licenses classes still issued in the US:

  • Technician - VHF/UHF and very limited HF
  • General - The above plus extended HF
  • Extra - All ham frequencies

Nifty Guides makes this very good reference guide to further explain privileges. All of these licenses are good for 10 years and can be easily renewed after. You DO need to be licensed to operate on the ham bands and your license level correspond to where you may operate. The higher your license level, the more you can do with it. You may find that some folks may have or had licenses such as Novice, Technician Plus or Advanced. While these are no longer issued, nor is there a CW (Morse Code) requirement, when many of us started out this was not the case. The holders of the above licenses can still renew without upgrading as of the writing of this.

A good place to get started if you are looking to get your initial (Technician) license are the following books below. I used these myself a the time when I took my tests, but be careful as these change every 4 years as does the question pool somewhat. I would recommend getting them new from below.

Note that the ARRL Book also includes a CD above (Click image for link) and these above books complement each other very well. Additionally these are also very good books to supplement with depending on your learning style:

Clicking on images will take you to Amazon (new tab) if you wish to purchase.

If you are an auditory learner such as myself, you will like the fact that there are AUDIO CDs available from Gordon West to complement his book! I also highly recommend using flash card, I used them for all 3 of my tests. (Image links to amazon for purchase)

Additionally there are some online resources, many free, to assist you in the studies. But please take note...Since I noticed these tend to change often AND many do not keep up with the changes in the question pool, I recommend just doing a current google search for these.

Two caution: Be sure to check the date range for which these tests are valid. Also do not always assume they are correct and error free. I found many mistakes when I was studying. As they say, you get what you pay for.

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Once you have studied enough to where you feel confident about passing the exam (or exams if you want to take more then one) you can look for a place to take it.

The San Francisco Radio Club offers VE testing quarterly, or 4 times per year if you will. Testing usually starts at 8:30AM to 11:30AM in the same location as the club meetings.

For more information please see the SFARC website to register and find more information about our testing program. If you have any questions regarding the Testing, you may also contact us via the SFARC website.

If you are not local, you an use the ARRL Website to locate an exam as well HERE.

If you find something incorrect and/or have an update, I would really appreciate if you could let me know by contacting me. I like to keep things as up-to-date as possible. Thank you! - Lucas / W6AER