There is the common question that gets asked in commercial radio technology: “can I take the ham radio license test online?” It is a question that has been repeated across a lot of forums by practitioners looking to get licensed.
The good news is, it was until the 30th of April, 2020, that it became possible to take the test online. The FCC made an official statement on the date above regarding the new development.
How Is The Test Conducted?
First, you need to understand how the ham radio licensing test works and is conducted. The test is generally conducted by a body known as Volunteer Exam Coordinators (VECs).
It is an accredited body licensed by the FCC to conduct the ham radio licensing exam. Because taking the exams online is still a relatively new development, not all VECs conduct online tests.
Before you set your mind towards taking the test, you need to ensure that a couple of things must be in place to achieve this.
A Licensed Proctor (Optional)
However, the tools mentioned above are dependent on the VEC you decide to use in taking the exam. All VECs have their procedures as well as individual requirements from each prospective candidate.
Another thing you must note is the general pass mark required to get licensed. To get licensed by the FCC, you must attain a cut off mark of 74%; otherwise, you will be required to retake the test.
So it is of the utmost importance that you study correctly before contacting any VEC of your choice to book you for the exam.
There are a couple of online resources you can use to guide how you get prepared. Some even offer free mock tests to give you a feel of the real thing and get you psychologically ready for what you should expect on that day.
Why Is It Important That You Get Licensed?
Working on ham radio is indeed hobbyist craft amongst people who enjoy it two-way radio communication. However, many advancements in radio technology have caused the FCC to take amateur radios more seriously.
There is the underlying risk involved in working with amateur radio. These risks range for health implications and well as industrial hazards that can result from mishaps.
Hence, a lot of strict sanctions have now been imposed on the operations of ham radios. It is required that only licensed professionals are allowed to handle ham radios.
Operating a ham radio without the proper license is regarded as illegal in certain jurisdictions. The test serves as a measure to create standardization in the field and make sure only highly qualified personnel can handle radio services.
In many countries around the globe, the roles of ham radio operators have been upended and, consequently, resulted in the safety and protection of lives and properties, especially in times of disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, or fire outbreaks.
These operators are known to quickly set up a two-way communication as a swift response to manage even the most complicated rescue operations.
This is why it comes as no surprise that a series of regulations are put in place to ensure only best practices and qualified operators working in the field.
Levels of Ham Radio Licensing
When it comes to getting a license as a ham radio operator, there are usually three levels, namely: Level One, Level Two, and Level Three.
Level One: This level is also called the Technician license. It is the beginner phase, and you will be required to get this license before moving onto the next level—the technician license grants you the authorization to work with UHF and VHF bands.
Any operator can work on a small budget at this level and still set up basic ham radio operations using cheap devices.
Level Two: This is also known as the General License. It grants all the privileges of Level One as well as that of almost all HF bands.
Level Three: This level is popularly called Amateur Extra. In this level, licensing will accommodate authorization to all frequency and band levels without any limitations.
Note that you will be required to take and pass the exam of a preceding level before you are allowed to proceed to the next one.
Steps To Get Licensed
Getting licensed as a ham radio operator is relatively easy. All you need do is follow these three steps.
- Create An Account
Before anything else, you need to get registered under the FCC to take part in the licensing exam. To do this, visit the official FCC website by following this link: (https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-divisions/mobility-division/amateur-radio-service). You will be required to register an account, followed closely by a series of steps and instructions. Here you can also get access to a ton of information and resources regarding getting the ham radio license.
- Study For Exam
As was pointed out earlier, there are a couple of online resources you can look up to guide on how to study and get prepared for the licensing exam. Some even offer free mock tests to give you a feel of the real thing and get you psychologically prepared for what you should expect on that day.
An incredibly helpful online resource can be found https://hamexam.org. On this site, you can find many questions and answers relating to the exam so that you can get acquainted with the entire process.
- Take The Exam
For the Level One (Technician License) test, 35 objective questions will be made available. These 35 questions will be selected randomly from a repository of about 400 questions. Each candidate will get a unique question-type of randomly picked 35 questions. You will be expected to get at least 26 of those questions correctly to pass to the next level.
The good thing is, all of these 400 questions are already made available. So that is a big plus for anyone looking to take the exam as you can narrow your focus and prepare better.
Another thing to take into consideration is the venue for the exam. You should pick a venue that is close in proximity. You can access all the info you need on the Amateur Radio Relay League website by simply following the link below
Getting a VEC
Below are some reputable Volunteer Exam Coordinators (VECs) that conduct online exams for ham radio licensing:
New England Amateur Radio (NEAR)
Greater Los Angeles Amateur Radio Group VEC (GLAARG)
Anchorage Alaska VEC
You can equally go online to search for other available VECs.
You can from all that has been discussed above, it is relatively easy to take the ham radio license test online. In summary, all you need do is get the right tools, getting registered, study well, and take the test. The great thing about the test is you can keep trying even if you don’t get it right the first time. The floor is always open. So good luck!