How to Get Your Hand Radio License [Ultimate Guide]

In this guide, I will show you how to get your hand radio license fast and easily.

An instance like this shows us how fragile these systems are in a world where communication and information can be accessed instantly. Backup systems are important to preppers, but we often miss this one.

How will you acquire reliable information and keep in touch with loved ones in a crisis? A ham (amateur) radio is an easy technique to traverse that ground. Learn how to receive your ham radio license and be prepared in case your communication lines are disrupted.

Let’s get right to it.

For non-commercial purposes, ham radio uses a radio frequency spectrum. It enables communication without the use of the internet or cell phones. To use a ham radio lawfully, you must first obtain a license from the FCC.

Most people prepare for the test, take a study course in person or online if necessary, and then take the official test.

After passing the test, you will be given your own unique call sign. It’s impossible to pinpoint an exact start date for ham radio. However, it began sometime about 1910.

How Can it Be Used?

How ham radios can be used

Ham radio is a type of alternative communication that can be used for fun, information, and disaster relief. I strongly advise it to preppers, particularly those who work long miles from home.

When natural disasters strike, ham radio operators are generally the first to transmit information and request assistance. The National Weather Service sends notifications concerning extreme weather events on the same frequencies as ham radio operators.

Hams are generally the first to get up and running after a tragedy, transmitting important signals to emergency workers. It’s also a great family pastime, especially as you start meeting individuals from all over the county, the planet, and even space!

Basic Requirements

  1. A valid US mailing address is required.
  2. Must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), such as a Social Security Number (SSN) or a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Registration Number.

Types of Licenses

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offers three types of licenses (The Federal Communications Commission, the branch of government that controls ham radio licenses). Each level requires passing an exam, and you must begin at Technician and work your way up.

The technician gives you access to VHF and UHF frequencies, which is ideal for getting started with handheld radios.

General gives you access to a wide range of HF bands, allowing you to communicate across the country and around the world. Finally, the amateur extra license is the most advanced armature class available.

Study for the Exam

For most people, studying for the Technician License Exam at the entry-level takes roughly 10 hours.

There are 35 questions on the Technician and General License examinations and 50 on the Amateur Extra. To pass each test, you must achieve a score of at least 74 percent. For Technician and General, this means you must answer 26 of the 35 questions correctly.

There are an array of options available for you to learn. This ranges from flashcards, practice tests, online classes, amazing ham radio books, and even study apps like the Ham Radio Prep.

Take the Exam

The time has come for you to take the test with an FCC-approved Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC). In the United States, VECs are the only legally permitted organizations to conduct ham radio licensing exam sessions.


Most people find that taking the exam with a friendly local ham radio group is convenient. Many local radio clubs are ARRL members.

On the ARRL exam search page, you can look for an in-person exam. It’s easiest to use your zip code to search this page. These exam sessions are hosted by friendly local ARRL affiliated clubs who want you to succeed!


According to a recent FCC notification, taking the exam online is now 100% possible. Some VECs, including the Anchorage Alaska Radio Club VEC and the Greater Los Angeles Amateur Radio Club, provide remote exams (aka GLAARG).

Final Words

You will receive an official signed paper from the volunteer examiners stating that you passed on the spot.

You can start transmitting your name in the FCC database as soon as your name shows, so you don’t have to wait for your license to come. Then you can start practicing for catastrophes or simply socialize with other amateurs while learning more about your new activity. 

I hope you enjoyed this short guide on how to get your ham radio license.

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