Getting your amateur radio license can be an intimidating process but your anxiety is misplaced. You don’t have to learn morse code, you don’t have to be an electronics expert to get started, and there’s surprisingly little math involved. There are even elementary school programs that are equipping children with General level (2nd out of 3 tiers) licenses.
Amateur radio is also more affordable than ever before. You can get started with a Technician class license, a brand new handheld radio, and an upgraded antenna and other accessories for less than $100 – sometimes far less. Throw in readily available used gear (from ebay, flea markets, and other hams) and groups dedicated to finding budget alternatives and the doors open up to almost everyone.
How to Prepare
The ARRL has you covered and you won’t have to spend a dime if you don’t want to. They have question pools, practice tests, local classes, and details on FCC licensing requirements freely available to all.
You can also find detailed classes, study guides, and explainers like this excellent series from David Casler on numerous ham blogs and sites like YouTube.
How I Study
I attended the PAARA 2019 Field Day before I started preparing for my Technician exam. An Amateur Extra license holder (the most advanced class) not only recommended HamTestOnline to me but he also gave me a code for their Technician study guide – a $20-$30 value.
The site doesn’t look like much but the methodology is incredibly effective and made preparing for the test fun. I was achieving passing grades after only four hours of study. If you don’t mind spending a little bit of money I highly recommend this method.
It’s easier than you think. You can easily have your Technician class license in a couple of weeks without expending much effort at all. There are even cram sessions where people study, register with the FCC, and take the exam all in one day.
The basic process is simple. Study, register with the FCC, then find and take an exam. For a very detailed explainer check out this guide by Bob Perlman, W6BP.
The entire process is so easy that once it’s done you’ll be kicking yourself for not doing it sooner.