Three types of licenses for ham radio operators are being granted today: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. By taking progressively more challenging exams, you gain access to more frequencies and operating privileges. After you pass a specific test level, called an element, you have permanent credit for it as long as you keep your license renewed. This system allows you to progress at your own pace. Your license is good for ten years, and you can renew it without taking an exam.
Finding a Class
Start with the Technician class
There are no more Morse code exams for any class of ham license. There are still plenty of people using Morse code, and you are quite welcome to join them. You just no longer have to take an exam first. All that's offered now is three different written exams. They all cover the same topics — regulations, operating practices, electronics, propagation, antennas, and safety — but to increasing levels of complexity:. All exams are administered by volunteer examiners VEs , generally a group of friendly hams from a local club. Exam sessions are held regularly all across the country. Click Where to take the exam to find exam sessions in your area.
You are here
Jump to navigation. The FCC issues six license classes, each authorizing varying levels of privileges. The class for which each licensee is qualified is determined by the degree of skill and knowledge in operating a station that the licensee demonstrates during an examination to volunteer examiners VEs in his or her community. Operator class license classes are: Current:. The VEs give examination credit for the license class currently held so that examinations required for that license class need not be repeated. The VEs prepare the written examinations from question pools that have been made public. Helpful study guides and training courses are widely available. The privileges of a Technician Class operator license include operating an amateur station that may transmit on channels in any of 17 frequency bands above 50 MHz with up to 1, watts of power. To pass the Technician Class examination, at least 26 questions from a 35 question written examination must be answered correctly. The General Class operator license authorizes privileges in all 29 amateur service bands.
As of April 15, , there are three classes of amateur radio licenses currently being issued to individual operators by the Federal Communications Commission for the United States Amateur Radio Service. There are also two other grandfathered license classes Novice and Advanced that are no longer being issued, but are still valid. Each class has a set of operating privileges. Generally speaking, higher license classes confer greater privileges in the HF, or high frequency, bands. Long distance communications are characteristic of the HF bands, because at those frequencies, radio signals can be refracted downward by the earth's ionosphere — in effect, bouncing between the sky and the ground over great distances. The class of license issued is determined by the examinations passed by the applicant. Multiple-choice written examinations cover radio and electronics theory, operating practices, and the amateur radio rules and regulations. Prior to the World Radiocommunication Conference of , an international agreement dictated that operating privileges in the HF bands could only be conferred upon hams who had demonstrated proficiency in the Morse code. Effective February 23, , the FCC eliminated all requirements for Morse code testing to qualify for amateur radio licenses. Licenses are granted for ten year terms, and are renewable.