What is this?

"How do I get my Ham Radio license?"

You'll need to pass a written exam. has practice exams which you can use to try out your readiness for the real FCC exams.

News Flash (Dec 15, 2006): FCC eliminates Morse Code examinations for US Amateur Radio licenses
News Flash (Jan 19, 2007): Codeless Amateur Radio Testing Regime Appears Set to Begin February 23
News Flash (Feb 28, 2007): Application Avalanche Under Way as New Codeless Testing Regime Ramps Up

As of Feb 23, 2007, all US Amateur Radio exams can now be attained just by passing written exams. You can practice for all three of those exams here at RadioExam.Org. We have the full FCC-published question pools in the practice exams on this site.

The written exams on this site are for Amateur Radio licenses issued by the US Federal Communications Commission, and are only valid in the United States and any other locations under FCC jurisdiction, such as US-registered aircraft and ships in international waters, and American-owned satellites. Even manned spacecraft count - the International Space Station has a Ham Radio station aboard, and can operate under American or Russian callsigns.

Anything that has a Ham Radio transmitter needs a licensed Amateur Radio operator who is responsible for it.

Step 1

First, get a study guide book or CD

Sometimes it's possible to find a local Amateur Radio club which offers a New Ham class in your area. But most people get their Amateur Radio licenses through self-study. You can probably get your license in a couple weeks of dedicating your evenings to study. Or you may be able to do it in a few evenings if you're technically inclined. The study typically takes the least time for those with a background in electronics, but you'll still need to study the FCC regulations.

You'll want a tutorial to study from, not just the exam questions but also explanations of the answers. And it doesn't hurt to have additional information about aspects of Amateur Radio as a hobby and as an emergency service. The most respected study guides are from ARRL and Gordon West. ( is not affiliated with either of them. This advice is based on previous results from exam-takers.)
  ARRL Gordon West
Product Home ARRL Store Gordon West Radio Schools
Retail stores including Ham Radio Outlet, Fry's Electronics, some Radio Shack locations and any store which carries Amateur Radio equipment
Online ordering
Technician Exam "Ham Radio License Manual"
for July 2006 - June 2010 exam pool
(formerly "Now You're Talking")
"Technician Class"
for July 2006 - June 2010 exam pool
(formerly "Technician Class Element 2 FCC License Preparation")
General Exam "ARRL General Class License Manual" (2007-2011 edition) "General Class FCC License Preparation for Element 3 General Class Theory" (2007-2011 edition)
Extra Exam "ARRL Extra Class License Manual" "Extra Class, Element 4 FCC License Preparation"

If you're looking for the entry-level Amateur Radio license, you want the Technician exam. Once you have a Technician license, you may choose to take further exams to upgrade to a General Class license and then the top-level Amateur Extra license.

There was already a "no code" Technician license since 1991. As of February 23, 2007, is no longer a Morse Code exam requirement for any class of US Amateur Radio license.

Step 2

Second, practice the exam online

The exams on were originally designed for students at a class to practice before taking their exams. This uses the real FCC questions, and makes sample exams the same way the official examiners make the real exams. So it's just practice but the material is for real. When this site was opened for the public to use, the feedback we've gotten indicates that once you're regularly passing this practice, you are ready for the real exam.

Element 2-2006 - Technician (effective 1 July 2006 - June 30, 2010)
Element 3-2007 - General (effective 1 July 2007 - June 30, 2011)
Element 4-2008 - Extra (effective 1 July 2008 - June 30, 2012)

If you're teaching an Amateur Radio licensing class, grants you permission to refer your students here for practice. You're helping people get into Amateur Radio, and so are we. As a courtesy, please let us know ( webmaster at radioexam dot org ) that you're doing this so we can let you know whether your class coincides with any other activity or any scheduled maintenance of the server. But you don't have to wait for any permission - you have that already.

Step 3

Third, find the exam session nearest to you

An FCC-accredited Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) organization will hold the local exams which you will take to get your license. These exams occur in most metropolitan areas and many rural locations across the US. They are only held at pre-announced times and locations.

If you fail an exam, you can come back to try again at another session. If you're close, the examiner may allow you to try again at the same session with a different set of questions. But that's up to the examiner. The examiners will charge an exam fee at each session where you take exams. The VEC organization sets the amount of the fees at their sessions in order to cover costs of providing the exams.

Find the nearest exam session at one of the following VECs:
VEC Locations Exam fees
ARRL VEC nationwide $14
W5YI VEC nationwide $14
Sunnyvale VEC Regions 6/7 - California and Oregon $10
GEARS VEC Regions 6 - California (Chico only) unknown
Anchorage VEC Region 11 - Alaska free
Laurel VEC Regions 2/3/4 - Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York free
Milwaukee Radio Amateurs' Club VEC Region 9 - Wisconsin $5
W4VEC Regions 4/9/10/12 - North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia, Indiana and Puerto Rico $12
See also the FCC's list of VEC organizations. We only listed the VECs who post their schedules online - but there are more. Note that each VEC can host exams across their regions - however availability of accredited volunteer examiners limits the scheduling and locations where exams can be held.

If you achieve a General Class license, you can become an accredited examiner for Technician exams. If you achieve an Amateur Extra Class license, you can become accredited to administer all of the Amateur Radio exam elements. Contact any VEC organization which covers your region for information on accreditation. By that time, you'll have seen some references to this in your studies - there are questions about administering examinations on the General and Extra exams.

About RadioExam.Org

This software was previously in use at the West Valley Amateur Radio Association of San Jose, California. It was originally written by Ian Kluft KO6YQ to help students of WVARA's New Ham Classes in 1996 and 1997. It was transformed into a public web site at from early 2000 to early 2004. When WVARA moved their web site to another server in 2004 where they could not install this software, was set up to make the service available again to the public.

The author has decided to release the source code for RadioExam.Org and create an Open Source Software project out of it. One goal is to create a larger community of coorperating sites which choose to offer this exam practice service.

If you make changes, improvements or fixes to the software, you are encouraged to contribute them back to the project. If you redistibute the software, the GNU General Public License requires you to publish the patches or source of your changes.

As an Open Source Software project, RadioExam.Org is organizing as a Special Interest Group of the South Bay Community Network, a technical community which is a California non-profit corporation that serves as an umbrella and incubator for Open Source and communications-related volunteer community service projects.

If you would like to get involved, please subscribe to one of our mail lists:

Or visit our IRC channel at #radioexam on

Morse Code Testing Eliminated in the USA

International treaty requirements for Morse Code exams for Amateur Radio licenses using frequecies below 30MHz were recently removed. Countries including the US have been reviewing and revising their regulations and are now free to remove all Morse Code requirements. "No-code" licenses which did not require any Morse Code examinations were available only for the Technician Class license from 1991 to 2007, and limited those licensees only to operation above 30MHz. That was most of what modern Hams wanted... use of handheld and mobile radios, Amateur Radio satellites, packet radio and most modern/digital modes.

As of February 23, 2007, Morse Code examinations are no longer required by the FCC. All three license classes, Technician, General and Extra, can be attained by written exams alone and have their HF privileges. The frequencies available to each class of license have not changed.

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