How To Get Your Ham Radio License In 3 Simple Steps

January 11, 2019

From books, to Youtube videos, to online classes, there is a lot of information out there. So how do you make sense of it all and finally get your license? It's easier than you think. Follow these 3 steps to finally get your license and get started in ham radio.

Step 1: Choose the Level of License

There are three classes of licenses that are offered by the FCC (The Federal Communications Commission, the branch of government that controls ham radio licenses). You have to pass a test for each level, and you have to start at Technician and advance upward.

Level 1: Technician License
Access to VHF / UHF, great for starting with handheld radios.
Level 2: General License
Open up access to many HF bands, which means nationwide and worldwide communication.
Level 3: Extra License
The highest amateur class offered by the FCC.

If you're new to ham radio, then you have to pass the Technician License first. You can take the General License test the same day without any extra fee, if you're feeling confident.

Step 2: Study For The Exam

The Technician and General License exams each have 35 Questions. To pass the test and get your license, you have to get at least 26 questions right out of the 35 questions. That means you have to score at least a 74%. When it comes to ham radio, you could say that "C's are for degrees".

There is a lot of free information out there, but most people pay for some kind of service to study. Overall, we estimated that the Technician License will cost you $40 to get.

Take An Online Class
It's now possible to learn everything you need in an online class from your phone, tablet, or computer. You get nice bonuses like videos and exams that track where you're having trouble. Check out the Ham Radio Prep home page for more information.
Get started free No Credit card required
If you prefer a book, we converted all of the secrets we've learned from running an online course into the book, Cracking the Technician License Exam available on Amazon.

Step 3: Take Your Exam In-Person

Once you're done studying and your confident you can score at least a 74% needed to pass, go ahead and register for your exam. You can search for a local club, or use the button below to search with ARRL. It is easiest to just enter your zip code. Here's a quick video explainer:

Congratulations, You've Earned Your License!

The volunteers examiners will give you an official signed paper saying that you passed on the spot. Your official license with call sign will arrive to you in a PDF to your email so you can print it out to put in your wallet or frame on your wall. Actually, you don't even have to wait for your license to arrive to start transmitting - you can begin as soon as your name appears in the FCC database. Then you can begin practicing for disasters, or just chat with other amateurs and explore your new hobby.