You’ve made the decision to become a licensed amateur (ham) radio operator, but what do you do next?
First, congratulations on making such a great decision! The hobby of ham radio can be used for many things, including chatting with other hams, contesting, and even helping with emergency communications. This is especially important when you consider the recent hurricanes in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico and the raging wildfires in California!
Next, if you don’t have a license at all, you will want to study for your Technician Class license. This is the beginner’s class license. A number of companies put out physical books or flash cards to study from or you can do all of your studying online at places such as Ham Study. Feel free to do a search online, as there are plenty of free sites on which you can study for the test. Note: For those in the area covered by the BC ARES (Warsaw, Lincoln and Cole Camp), the BC ARES offers a Library here!
After you have studied and you feel prepared, you can reach out to the local Amateur Radio club in your area. Many offer testing, as long as they are given enough notice to line up VEs.
HOLD IT! What is a VE? A VE is a Volunteer Examiner. These are the people who administer the tests. They are often licensed through organizations like the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League) and are qualified to give you your test.
Once you pass your test (which you find out the day you take it), the FCC will then list you in its database and you are officially a ham!
Finally, you are able to communicate on amateur radio frequencies open to your license class. Don’t worry, there’s a handy chart available online or for purchase through most places which have the books (they are also IN the books). You can take part in contests or even work with your local ARES!
Of course, if you already have a license and you wish to upgrade, the steps are very similar.
We look forward to talking to new and upgraded amateurs!