Ham Radio is a nickname for Amateur Radio. It refers to a set of frequencies that are set aside for amatuer use in the United States.
Privleges on these frequencies are granted to those with amateur radio license(s). These licenses require passing a test and payment of a $35 fee to the FCC. Typically there is also a small fee for testing, around $15. Most people find the tests to be challenging, and will typically require several weeks of regular study.
There are 3 levels of licensure, each with an increasing level of privilege.
- Technician – VHF, UHF, small part of HF
- General – VHF, UHF, plus most of HF
- Extra – All available amateur frequencies
These privileges include access to a large network of repeaters (VHF/UHF) and long distance communication capabilities (HF). In addition to the privileges to use certain frequencies and modes, licensure allows a person to accesse many websites such as RepeaterBook.com and QRZ.com, as well as radio software platforms such as WinLink, APRS, DMR, and more.
GMRS privileges are not included with any amateur radio license. It is an entirely separate license, which is where we recommend most people start. For our GMRS guide, click here.
How to get your ham radio license
If you do not already have an FRN with the FCC, create one here. (Click REGISTER)
Go to Hamstudy.org or get the Ham Study app on your smartphone.
Select the License you want to study for. You must begin with technician. You can take multiple tests in sequence in the same testing session if desired.
Use Study Mode for at least 30 minutes per day until you are at 80% proficiency.
Once you are at 80%, schedule your remote testing session around 1 week out. Use GLAARG as the VEC. https://hamstudy.org/sessions/lagroup/remote
Continue to study using Cram Mode for at least 30 minutes per day prior to your exam.
Take and pass your test(s). Obtain your certificate of completion from the VEC.
Wait to receive approval with your new callsign from the FCC via email. You can also check for your name on the FCC’s Universal Licensing System here.
Other Test Prep Resources
Premium Online Course: HamRadioPrep.com – guided process with well-produced content
Book: Pass Your Amateur Radio Class Test – The Easy Way (Tech, General, Extra)
Audiobook: The Fast Track to your Ham Radio License (Tech, General, Extra)
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