300px-International_amateur_radio_symbol.svgThese are the three basic steps to getting your USA amateur (ham) radio license: 1) Learn the Material 2) Take Practice Exams and 3) Pass the Real Exam.

This article is very short and to the point, for a more detailed discussion see Stu (WØSTU)’s article over at HamRadioSchool.com.

1. Learn The Material

The entry level ham radio license is the Technician License, so you’ll need to get a book that covers the theory, regulations and operating procedures required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). My recommendation is the Technician License Course over at HamRadioSchool.com, which offers an integrated learning system (web, book and smartphone app).

While you can learn the material on your own, many people find classroom instruction to be very helpful. Check the ARRL web site for courses in your area or just do an internet search for “ham radio license class” and your location.

2. Take Practice Exams

The question pool for the Technician Level Exam is made public, so you have access to every possible question that will be on the exam. Better yet, various organizations have created online practice exams so you can test yourself in advance. After you study the material, take these practice exams to test your knowledge. Go back and study any topics you are having trouble with on the exam. A passing grade is 74%, so you’ll want to be consistently above that before trying the real exam.

These are a few of the available online practice exams: qrz.com, eham.net and aa9pw.

3. Pass the Real Exam

The FCC exams are administered by radio hams known as Volunteer Examiners (VEs), so the exam session is sometimes called a VE session. In most areas, there are exam sessions given on a regular basis. Check the ARRL web site to find a license exam session in your area. If you are taking a class, there may be an exam session included in the schedule.

Be sure to follow the instructions of the local VE team, since policies and procedures do vary. If you’ve studied the material and checked your knowledge by taking the practice exams, you should have no problem passing the Technician level exam.

4. One More Thing

Actually, there is one more step to this process. Getting the required FCC license is just the start, a learners permit for amateur radio. You’ll need to get on the air and gain some practical experience. It is extremely helpful to have some assistance during this process, so I recommend that you connect up with a local ham radio club. If you can’t find a club then perhaps make contact with a local ham or two.

Of course, it would be even better if you can do Step 4 ahead of Step 1 and get some help along the way. There are many radio hams out there that are willing to assist. However, it may be a challenge to find one. You can always drop me an email and I will do my best to help out.

73, Bob K0NR