Amateur radio licensing in the United States is governed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), specifically by CFR Title 47 Part 97 (Part 97, for short). Licenses are currently divided into three open classes (Technician, General and Extra), which corelate to an increasing degree of knowledge and corresponding privileges within the Amateur Radio bands. Additionally, there are two grandfathered classes (Novice and Advanced) which are closed to new applicants.
See below for information on preparing for the Amateur Radio exam and local testing opportunities.
Note that there is no longer a Morse Code requirement for any Amateur Radio license class in the United States.
Amateur Radio licenses are granted by the FCC following demonstration of knowledge by means of passing an exam. License exams are administered at a local level by volunteer examiners (VEs) who are coordinated by volunteer examiner coordinators (VECs). The cost of license exams can generally range from free up to $15 and goes toward reimbursement of the VEs for travel and expenses related to administering the exam. The license itself, which is good for 10 years, is free.
Lower level exams must be passed before moving on to the higher level exams. However, if an applicant passes an exam, they may take the next highest exam during the same exam session without paying an additional fee.
To be granted an entry-level Technician Class license, one must correctly answer 26 out of 35 questions chosen from a pool of 396 questions. This license grants full operating privileges on all amateur bands above 30 MHz and limited privileges in portions of the high frequency (HF) bands.
The next step is the General Class license, granted upon correctly answering 26 out of 35 questions chosen from a pool of 456 questions, yeilds privileges on portions of all amateur bands and grants access to over 83% of all amateur HF bandwidth.
The top US license class, Extra Class, is granted after correctly answering 37 out of 50 questions chosen from a pool of 702 questions. Those with Amateur Extra licenses are granted all privileges on all US amateur bands.
The Amateur Radio examinations are nothing to be afraid of. With a little bit of studying, you can easily pass your exam and get your Ham license. Just remember, passing the exam is just the beginning of your Ham Radio journey. Once you have your license (or “ticket”) you can really start learning.
The resources available from ARRL are a great place to start learning. Soaking up knowledge from experienced Hams is also a greay way to learn. However, if you want to start studying for your license the free and easy way, check out the resources below:
KB6NU has some great “No Nonsense” study guides. The Technician Class Study Guide and General Class Study Guide are free, but there is a nominal charge for the Extra Class Study Guide.
If you want a free study guide for the Extra Class exam, we recommend AD7FO’s Extra Class Study Guide.
Other online study resources include the QRZ practice tests and Ham Test Online. See the links page for more info.
There are a number of Ham Radio exam opportunities around the Louisville area. These opportunities are listed below as well as in the calendar, accessible via the menu at the top of this page.
The Western Carolina Amateur Radio Society (WCARS) has monthly testing opportunities in downtown Louisville. On the second Friday of even numbered months at 5:30PM and the third Sunday of odd numbered months at 2PM. Testing is held in the 2nd floor lunch room at the American Red Cross at 501 E. Chesnut St. Testing fee is $10. Contact Tom Irwin K4TBI at (502)458-7098 or Bill Carter KF4GGV at (502)817-2735 with questions.
WCARS also provides testing on the third saturday of even numbered months at IU Southeast at 4201 Grant Line Road in New Albany, IN.
Tests are given on the second Saturday of each month at Radcliff Fire Station #1 at 604 S. Wilson Road, Radcliff, KY. Contact Archie Mack at (270)351-6931 with questions.
For additional testing opportunities, visit the ARRL Exam Locater page.