How do I get licensed?
Before you can start using ham radio, you need to be licensed. Fortunately, that isn't hard! Here are the basic requirements:
There are three levels of Amateur Radio license; to get a higher level you must pass the requirements for the lower level plus the exam for the higher level. They are (in this order):
- Technician Class
- General Class
- Amateur Extra class
Amateur radio licensing is managed by the Federal Communications Commision (FCC). Being licensed means that your name is listed in the FCC Universal Licensing System with an associated ham radio callsign.
See also FCC.gov: Licensing
Have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number
US citizens have a Social Security Number (SSN) and this qualifies. Are you concerned about giving our your SSN to someone you don't know? Get an FCC Registration Number and give that to them instead!
Have a valid mailing address
Probably a no-brainer, but you need to be able to provide an address where the FCC can contact you. This is where your license will be sent, and if they try to contact you here and can't your license could be revoked.
See also FCC.gov: Changing Address
Pass a written exam
There are three license classes in ham radio. In order they are: Technician (Element 2), General (Element 3), and Amateur Extra (Element 4). Each has an associated written examination that you must pass to earn your amateur radio license.
The questions for these tests come from a publicly available question pool. To study these questions, click the one you want to study at the top of this page. If you're new to ham radio, start with Technician.
To find an examination session, do a google search for "Ham Radio Exam" and your area. For example, to find ham radio exams in Utah County, google "Ham Radio Exam Utah County". There is typically a fee of around $15 to cover examination costs and you will need to bring two forms of government-issued ID with you.
See also FCC.gov: Examinations