“How to get your HAM Radio License – 1, 2, 3”
1. Apply for an FRN (Federal Communication Commission Registration Number). On the fcc.gov website’s home page, click on FRN to fill out your registration form. This form will ask for personal information including your Social Security Number (SSN). Your FRN will become your username and you’ll need create a password to log into the FCC. An FRN is a 10-digit number that is assigned to a individual or business registering with the FCC. This unique FRN is used to identify the registrant’s business dealings with the FCC. The FCC will use the FRN to determine if all of a registrant’s fees have been paid. You are encouraged to register with the Commission as soon as you expect to do business with the FCC. This way, you will be ready to access any of the electronic licensing systems without having to go through the registration process at the time you submit an application. You do not necessarily need an FRN to apply for your HAM license but it is highly recommended for reasons above. Also, when filling out the application before taking the exam you will need to submit your FRN or SSN. It would be better (safer) to submit your FRN to the Volunteer Examiner rather than your SSN. Note; If you choose to skip this step and use your SSN, the FCC will automatically issue you an FRN after you pass the exam and your application is processed with the FCC. You will never use your SSN again to identify yourself with the FCC.
2. Study, study, study! There’s really no getting around it. If you are new to amateur radio, you will need to get your hands on some literature to pass the Level 1 Technician Exam. No worries though, there are many books out there to choose from.
Amazon books will also have study guides.
- “The Fast Track to your Technician Class Ham Radio License” by Michael Burnette, is a good one.
- “Technician Class” by Gordon West
- “Ham Radio for Dummies” by H. Ward Silver
These are just a few of many good books out there.
Make sure all books are current copies as the question pool changes time to time.
Look online for local Ham clubs in your area to see if they are currently holding Technician classes, you might get lucky.
Surf the web looking for amateur radio tutorials that can help explain some of the ham terminology and technical stuff. Click on our “Educational” or “Some Useful Ham Radio Links” page to get started.
Stay with it! Don’t give up! At first it might seem a bit technical and over your head but as you go through the material, it will all start to come together and make sense. I promise!
Arrl.org has a way to let you take a practice test as many times as you need till you start passing it consistently. You do not need to be a member to use their practice exam review page but you will need to register as a guest. Once your username and password are set up, you can buy books from the online store and use the practice exam review. This is a great way to get familiar with the questions and check your progress as you go along. Once you pass the practice tests consistently, you’ll be ready for the real exam.
3. Time to take the exam. The technician exam is only 35 multiple choice questions with a passing grade of 26. So what’s the problem you ask? Well, the 35 multiple choice questions come from a question pool of over 400 questions. Seems like a bit much, but if your passing the practice test with an 80% or better, then you’re ready. Remember, they’re all multiple choice with 3 wrong answers and 1 right one.
By now you should know of a club or school testing in your area. Arrl.org can also help find a testing session close to you. Some testing sessions will need to be scheduled, others are walk-ins or both. You’ll need to bring your I.D., FRN or SSN, pencils with erasers, calculator (non data storing, scientific OK) and cash if the testing session charges a fee. Typically it should not be more than $15. Get all the information you can so you don’t show up missing something.
You will fill out a short application, then given an exam questioner and bubble sheet. Once you’re finished, you’ll turn in the questioner and bubble sheet to one of the Volunteer Examiners (VEs) and return to your seat. The VEs will grade your sheet with a pass or fail in about 5 to 10 minutes depending how busy they are. They will let you know the results as soon as they know. If unfortunately you fail, they will give you your application back and you are free to go and try again another time. Note; You may stay and take the exam again for an additional fee, only if they offer it, and you feel you can still pass it. You will not be given the same questions again. However, if you pass, congratulations! Now you will sign the application and they will send it to the Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) who will then notify the FCC.
The FCC will issue your long awaited CALL SIGN in about two weeks. To check the status of your application with the FCC, you can go to fcc.gov and click on URS (Universal Licensing System). To log in, type your FRN and password to see if your CALL SIGN (most likely KN6xxx) has been placed in the data base. Once you have your CALL SIGN, then you’re free to Get On The Air with your new Technician privileges! Your license is good for ten years.
Good Luck, Mark Arlotti KM6AHY
Technician classes by Tri-city Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) start October 1st, 2020 and will be held at the All Risk Training Center, 11285 Jersey Blvd Rancho Cucamonga, California 91730. For more info see the www.tricityacs.net calendar.
Also the Tri-City Auxiliary Communications Service host exam sessions at the All Risk Training Center. Next FCC Licensing Exam session, November 5th, 2020, 6:30 pm. www.tricityacs.net
Ready for the exam now? Use this ARRL link to help find a testing session near YOU.
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