Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I'm interested in getting an Amateur Radio license. How do get one?

A. To get an amateur radio license, you need to pass a test. Licenses are issued by the Federal Commications Commission (FCC). The tests themselves are given by volunteer examiners ("VE"). (The tests are sometimes called "VE Sessions") The entry level class of license is called "Technician." You can prepare for the test by reading a book or by taking a class. Several clubs periodically gives classes.

Q. What do I need to study to get licensed?

A. The questions (and the answers!) for the test are published and available. You can buy a book and study one your own, or take classes. Classes are usually free. Also, there are practice tests on-line.

Q. What books can I get to study for a license test?

A. There are several. Some good starting points are "Tech Q&A" and/or "The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual" by the ARRL (see "What is the ARRL?" below). They are carried at stores that specialize in ham radio equipment. In the Bay Area, Ham Radio Outlet has two stores, one in Oakland, and one in Sunnyvale. You can also get them at a good bookstore, or from ARRL online at www.arrl.org.

Q. Where can I take classes?

A. Several clubs periodically give classes. Classes are usually free, and are run by volunteers. As a result, classes are often ad hoc. A good way to find classes is to find a local club. Making contact with local amateur radio operators is the best way to find classes, ask questions, and learn all about the hobby. You can search for clubs near you by using this web page: http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club. Another way is to drop by a local ham radio store; in the Bay Area, Ham Radio Outlet always has flyers announcing local classes.

Q. I am totally confused. There is just so much, I don't know where to start.

A. There's a lot to amateur radio, but you do not need to know everything. Find a local club. It's the best way to get introduced to the hobby, and to find out what's important to know.

Q. What is the ARRL?

A. The Amateur Radio Relay League is a national organization of amateur radio enthusiasts. They publish books and magazines, and promote amateur radio. See www.arrl.org

Q. I am not licensed yet. Can I come to a meeting?

A. Absolutely! Clubs always welcome newcomers. Just let someone know who you are and why you've come, and local hams will be glad to help.

Have a question? Send an email to ARCA's secretary: feedback.htm