What does it take to become a licensed amateur?
Not as much as you may think!
To start, there are five levels of amateur radio license. Novice, Technician, General, Advanced, and Amateur Extra. Only three of those levels are still being issued nowadays: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. Each license level has a corresponding test to go with it. The tests are multiple choice questions. The Technician and General tests are 35 questions each and the Amateur Extra test has 50 questions. No longer is it required to pass a Morse Code proficiency test! For the higher level of licenses, you mush pass the tests of the lower level of licenses first. In other words, to take the test for General, you must first pass the test for Technician and to test for Amateur Extra, you must first pass the test for Technician and then pass the test for General.
What are the tests like?
While the tests are not open book, the question pool is available publicly for anyone to study. Of course, there are more that 35 questions (50 in the case of Amateur Extra) that may be seen for each license level. You are allowed a calculator with its memory completely cleared out and blank scratch paper.
How to I prepare for the tests?
There are many preparation approaches for Amateur Radio exams and the one you use will depend on your own learning style and background. There are numerous books written on the subject, smartphone apps, web sites dedicated to ham radio test prep, and even YouTube videos.
How long is the license good for?
An Amateur Radio license is good for 10 years before it must be renewed. You do not have to re-test in order to renew your license.
Where do I go to take an Amateur Radio exam?
There are several organizations that work with the FCC to test for amateur radio licenses. One of the biggest is the Amateur Radio Relay League (or ARRL). Information on ARRL exam sessions can be found on their webpage.
Good luck, and see you on the air!Hits: 844