We are often asked how much it costs to get your ham radio license, and it really depends. It all comes down to study preference and whether or not you’ll sit for more than one exam on test day. In this article we'll explain all the costs and options, so you know exactly how much you're going to end up paying.
Let's break down your options to see how much it will cost for you.
This cost is pretty much unavoidable. You are basically paying to print the exams and for the time of the volunteers. The exam has to be in-person, just like most licenses like your Driver's License, Concealed Carry, etc. etc. The volunteers who administer the exam also use whatever is left of the fees to continue advancing ham radio, so it's a good cause anyway. The easiest way to register for the in-person exam is with the ARRL. Here is a quick article on exactly how to register(see Find a Ham Radio License Exam). However, they usually DO NOT charge extra to take multiple exams on the same day! This means that you can save money by taking the Technician License Exam and the General License Exam on the same day, if you are up to the extra challenge. You have to pass your Technician License first (Level 1). If you decide to get the General License later (Level 2), you just go to an exam session and pay the $15 again. Another important note: most exam locations will charge you $15 per attempt if you fail the exam and want to try again. Make sure that you’re achieving at least a 74% on your practice exams before attending an in-person so you can avoid having to pay for multiple attempts should you fail the first try.
If you decide to study for your Technician and General License at the same time, you could also save on your study materials. With Ham Radio Prep's bundle deal, you can save $15 by getting the online class for Technician and General at the same time.
Remember, there are a lot of free study tools out there. You do not HAVE to pay to study for the exam. This is just preference. We find that on average, most people will spend around $15 - $30 on study tools. However, if you choose to just utilize free study materials, you may save money in the short term, but you risk failing the exam and having to pay $15 to retake the test. Most people decide to make the investment in a study tool to ensure that they do not fail the exam. You also have to consider the costs of using more premium study options like HamRadioPrep.com (see Pricing) that assist folks in studying for their exam and come with a money back guarantee. An online course like Ham Radio Prep also offers advantages of multimedia like videos, interactive quizzes, and being able to study on your phone.
We believe our online course offers the best of all worlds, and is the most complete way to study and take practice tests. However, if you're looking to save some money or maybe just want a paperback book, you could possibly save some money with another option.
In summary, it's going to cost you about $40 to get your Technician license, and if you take General at the same time and bought the bundle deal, you could get both for $50. This is just an average - depending on your study tools, you may be able to save a little money. The key is that you want to make sure you will pass the exam the first try so you do not have to pay the $15 again.