Before you can get on the air, you need to be licensed and know the rules to operate legally. US licenses are good for 10 years before renewal and anyone may hold one except a representative of a foreign government. In the US there are three license classes—Technician, General and Extra.
The Technician class license is the entry-level license of choice for most new ham radio operators. To earn the Technician license requires passing one examination totaling 35 questions on radio theory, regulations and operating practices. The license gives access to all Amateur Radio frequencies above 30 megahertz, allowing these licensees the ability to communicate locally and most often within North America. It also allows for some limited privileges on the HF (also called “short wave”) bands used for international communications.
The General class license grants some operating privileges on all Amateur Radio bands and all operating modes. This license opens the door to world-wide communications. Earning the General class license requires passing a 35 question examination. General class licensees must also have passed the Technician written examination.
Amateur Extra License
The Amateur Extra class license conveys all available U.S. Amateur Radio operating privileges on all bands and all modes. Earning the license is more difficult; it requires passing a thorough 50 question examination. Extra class licensees must also have passed all previous license class written examinations.
If you’re currently unlicensed you can get the ball rolling by obtaining an FRN number from the United States FCC
From there you can get started! It’s helpful to have a licensing book, especially if you have no background in two-way radio communications or electronics. The American Radio Relay League sells wonderful book and CD companion sets which will be valuable study guides on your path to licensing. Also, a very notable radio operator named Gordon West WB6NOA sells licensing manuals as well that offer a slightly different approach to learning. Both are excellent, and will help you get licensed and get on the air.
Next thing to do is get an elmer! An elmer is an experienced radio operator who will help get you familiar with being on the air and show you the ropes. While not mandatory, it’s highly recommended so you don’t start off making a lot of un-necessary mistakes. Besides, the hobby is all about making contacts, what better way to enter it than by making some new friends! Many hams will be eager to help you get started!
Liverpool Amateur Repeater Club provides testing at all regular membership meetings – For further information on testing and getting licensed, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, JOIN THE CLUB AND COME TO THE MEETINGS! It sounds so simple but coming in and getting to know people gives you the opportunity to ask questions and puts a valuable pool of talent and knowledge at your fingertips. We also offer boot camp classes to get you ready for the test! Having the paper license allows you to get on the air, going through boot camp will help make you a fantastic operator as well! Contact Peter Sochocki K2VGN if you’re interested in the class or would like information. There’s no fee other than your annual membership dues, and you’ll learn a lot!