Amateur Radio is an internationally regulated hobby. For US Domestic licenses, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has jurisdiction over the Amateur Radio Service. The FCC formulates Amateur Radio regulations consistent with International treaties governing the use of Radio Spectrum, as well as laws/regulations passed by Congress. Currently, the US Amateur Radio licensing structure consists of 3 tiers, with operating and radio spectrum privileges increasing with each tier. Each license tier requires the prospective licensee to pass an exam which demonstrates knowledge of electronic theory, rules and regulations, and operating practices.
There are several excellent self-study resources available to those interested in becoming a licensed Ham. The ARRL offers introductory books, as well as study guides for each class of license. There are also study guides available from 3rd party commercial providers. See also our Resources web link. Occasionally a local Ham or Club will host licensing classes. The ARRL maintains a web resource for clubs or ham organizations which host licensing classes to advertise their class. Go here to browse their database to see if a course is offered near you.
WEARC is not hosting a class at this time.
The 3 licensing categories are summarized below:
The entry level license tier is Technician. By successfully completing a 35-question multiple-choice examination, the licensee is granted relatively limited radio spectrum operating privileges. No Morse code test is required. The exam places a particular focus on VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) applications.
Technician Class operators are authorized to use all amateur VHF and UHF frequencies and are also allowed to use a portion of the 10 meter band.
The General Class offers much greater radio spectrum operating privileges as well as increased power output limits. Technicians may upgrade to General Class by passing a separate 35-question multiple-choice examination geared toward more sophisticated electronics theory and the rules and regulations, as well as operating practices specific to General Class operation. No morse code test is required. General Class operators are authorized to operate all the frequencies of the Technician Class plus many more.
The Extra Class license provides for access to all radio spectrum allocated to the Amateur Radio Service using all authorized operating modes at maximum power output limits, as specified by the FCC. General licensees may upgrade to Extra Class by passing a separate 50-question multiple-choice exam. No Morse code test is required. The test covers the more sophisticated operating practices, as well as advanced electronics theory and design.