Twin State Radio Club, Inc. - W1FN

Amateur Radio education and public service

How to Become an Amateur (Ham) Radio Operator

Getting your ham radio operator's license is easy. A half hour of study each night for a few weeks, take an online practice exam until you're scoring in the nineties, and you're ready for the Technician class license exam!

There are three classes of licenses with different levels of operating privileges. The basic license is the Technician Class, which offers full VHF and UHF privileges and limited HF (shortwave) privileges. Next up is the General Class, which adds a full range of HF privileges. At the top is the Extra Class license, which offers exclusive use of additional HF frequencies.

To get started, visit the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) website: ARRL is the national association for Amateur Radio. It's a great place to learn about the various aspects of ham radio and what it takes to earn your license. Attending TSRC meetings is another great way to learn, and make new friends in the process.


Next, get some study materials. The ARRL Ham Radio Technician License manual can be purchased on or directly from ARRL for about $25.  There are also a variety of on-line resources to choose from. If you feel you need a complete course, try There are also a number of free practice exam sites including the one on the ARRL website. TSRC and other clubs also offer "get licensed" courses from time to time. If you're interested, just ask!

The Apple AppStore has multiple applications to help you study for the exam.  For example, the excellent Amateur Radio Exam Prep: Technician by Patrick J Maloney is $5. 

Need more support, or just want some one on one learning? Find a nearby ham to be your "Elmer" (ancient ham slang for "mentor.") with the help of the club. Disabled in some way? Visit ARRL's Handi-Ham page for specialized resources.

When you are ready to take the exam you will need to find an exam session. Exams are given in Claremont, NH once each quarter by the Connecticut Valley FM Association, and by TSRC anytime we have enough candidates.

The ARRL website also includes a search engine to find an exam session.   Bring two forms of photo ID and $15 with you to the exam session. All exams are given by certified volunteer examiners, and you will have the results before you leave. When you pass, the examiners will send your results to the FCC.  It takes a week or two for the FCC to issue you your new call sign.  Check the FCC Universal Licensing System web page and search for your name.  Once you have your call sign, you can join us on the air! Congratulations!