get ham radio license

Getting Started

3 Steps to Get Your License:
  1. Study 10-12 hours of focused radio topics with our quality learning materials.

  2. Attend an exam session and correctly answer at least 26 of 35 multiple choice questions.

  3. Look up your license and call sign when it appears in the FCC online database.

ham radio technician
Get more details in these recommended articles and in the FAQs below:

You can get started earning your ham radio license today! Learn how here.

Getting Started FAQs:

Where do I find study materials or courses?

Visit our Study Guides page for the Technician License Course book.

How can I find an exam session in my area?

Exam sessions are held all over the US each month. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) provides a convenient search engine -- just enter your zip code, a search radius, and click the search button.

What format are the exam questions in?

All exam questions are 4-option multiple choice format, like this example:

T1A02: Which agency regulates and enforces the rules for the Amateur Radio Service in the United States?
A. FEMA B. Homeland Security C. The FCC D. All of these choices are correct

How are the exam questions determined?

The exam questions come from a question pool of over 400 questions that are generated and published by the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC), a coordinated body of representatives from FCC-sanctioned organizations that issue Amateur Radio Service license exams. Each exam is a psuedo-random selection of 35 questions from the pool of questions for the Technician license. Each exam has a required number of questions for each of 10 topical areas, summing to 35 questions total.

How hard is the Technician license material?

The Technician license material requires only the most basic math (addition/subtraction, multiplication/division), and our study materials coach you in easy-to-remember ways of ensuring you calculate correctly. Basic electronics content is readily comprehended by anyone, including young teens and adults with no technical background. Similarly, only the most basic radio science comprehension is required along with common-sense operating rules and regs that our materials explain in simple terms. Practically anyone can earn the Technician license with a few hours of study.

How long will it take to receive my license after I pass the exam?

Most Volunteer Examiner organizations submit your application for license quickly after exam success, and your license will show up on the FCC online database within a few days. Some organizations submit their results electronically to the FCC resulting in license issuance in as little as one day. Ask the team leader of your exam session for specific times and expectations.

Are there ham radio clubs in my area that I can join to get more help from experienced hams?

Very likely! The ARRL also provides a convenient search engine for radio clubs. Just enter your zip code and a search radius, then click search. You may find multiple clubs in your area -- go check them out and select the one that you like. Most clubs will welcome new hams warmly and offer to help you with your questions and your station setup. Get involved! You'll be glad you did.

Which ham license should I start with?

The Technician license is the introductory license class for the Amateur Radio Service. It requires the least amount of technical comprehension of the three ham license levels (Technician, General, and Extra). Learn more about the differences between these three licenses in our article Tech, General, or Extra License... What's the Difference?

How much does it cost to take the exam?

Each administering Volunteer Examiner (VE) organization sets its own policies regarding examination costs to applicants. Fees to applicants are allowed to help offset the expenses associated with providing exam services. Currently, some VE organizations charge a fee of about $15 per exam attempt. Other VE organizations charge no fees at all, requiring a sponsoring club to cover the expenses of the exams. In recent years the ARRL VEC and W5YI VEC exam teams charge a fee, while the Laurel VEC charges no fees. There are several other VECs in localized areas, so ask your exam session sponsor about their VEC policy on applicant fees.

Why is a license required for ham radio?

Unlike other personal radio services such as CB, GMRS, or FRS, the FCC Amateur Radio Service (ham radio) has fewer restrictions on the modification of antennas, transceivers, and on-air modulation techniques. This helps promote experimentation and innovation in the radio sciences. Further, ham radio allows operators to transmit up to 1.5 kilowatts of power -- significantly more than the single-digit wattage of those other personal radio services. As such, hams need to obtain basic competencies to ensure safety, to avoid on-air interference, to stay within FCC regulations, and to keep to the intended purposes of the Amateur Radio Service. The FCC license helps to ensure this.

Do I have to learn Morse Code to get a license?

No. The Morse Code proficiency requirement for ham radio licenses was ended by the FCC in 2006. The only licensing requirement is successful completion of the multiple choice question examination -- at least 26 of 35 questions correctly answered from a question pool of over 400 questions.

Can I take the license exam online?

The vast majority of exam sessions are held in-person only, so you will typically be required to show up at the exam location for the scheduled session. Some VECs do offer online exams in limited instances, but these sessions require particular setup procedures involving live monitoring cameras and other precautions to ensure exam security and integrity.

Still Got Questions?

Drop us a note at the Contact Us page. We'll be happy to answer your questions and help you get started on the path to license exam success!