First the basics
There are currently 3 classes of Ham licenses, they are know as their names or their Element number.
- Technician (Element 2)
- General (Element 3)
- Extra (element 4).
Each class has it's own set of privileges.
- Technician – All VHF/UHF Amateur bands (frequencies above 30 MHz). Limited operations in certain HF bands.
- General – All VHF/UHF Amateur bands and most HF privileges (10 through 160 meters).
- Extra – All Amateur band privileges.
Each class of license has it's own pool of questions which are used to make up the questions on the test. The pool of questions is available to the public to see. The exams must be taken and passed in order.
The list below is the Number of questions for the test/Number you must get correct for each class/Approximate number of questions in the pool
- Technician 35/26/400
- General 35/26/500
- Extra 50/37/700
How much does it cost?
Exam sessions are typically $15. At one session you can take one or all of the exams for the $15. Some people will study for all 3 classes and take all 3 tests in the same session and only pay $15. You can take each successive test as long as you pass the previous one. If you take each exam at separate sessions and were to take all 3 exams it would cost you $45.
Once I have my license how long is it good for?
Licenses are good for 10 years. Once it expires, there is a 2 year grace period to renew it.
Where can I take the exam?
Check the links below for the latest info. The top link is on the ARRL website which is the National Association for Amateur Radio, the other three are local radio clubs that do not seem to list their tests on the ARRL lookup.
How do I learn more about Amateur Radio and study for my exam?
Besides books there are a number of online resources for learning more about Ham radio and test prep.
The sites I used to study for Technician and General are below. This list is not an all inclusive list, if you do a search on your favorite search engine you will likely find many more resources, find the ones that work best for you and post them to this thread if they are not already here.
http://www.kb6nu.com/tech-manual/ – Free study guides for Tech and General, paid for Extra.
http://hamexam.org/ – This is the site I used most, it provides Flash Cards, Practice Exams and the Pools of questions
Other info that will help with the exams
http://www.arrl.org/…ncy-allocations – Bandwidth allocations
http://www.ac6v.com/Qsignals.htm – Q-Signals (shorthand originally used with Morse Code but still used with radios)
http://ac6v.com/Qsigvhf.htm – Q-Signals commonly heard on VHF
Besides the resources above, there are a bunch of apps to help you study and use your Ham equipment on both Android and Apple app stores, just do a search.
I passed my exam(s), now what?
Start buying your gear. Wait to be assigned your callsign by the FCC (Check here http://wireless.fcc….ex.htm?job=home) and then start broadcasting!
I hope this all helps. Good luck!