Three types of licenses for ham radio operators are being granted today: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. By taking progressively more challenging exams, you gain access to more frequencies and operating privileges. After you pass a specific test level, called an element, you have permanent credit for it as long as you keep your license renewed. This system allows you to progress at your own pace. Your license is good for ten years, and you can renew it without taking an exam. Nearly every ham starts with a Technician class license, also known as a Tech license.
There are no more Morse code exams for any class of ham license. There are still plenty of people using Morse code, and you are quite welcome to join them. You just no longer have to take an exam first. All that's offered now is three different written exams. They all cover the same topics — regulations, operating practices, electronics, propagation, antennas, and safety — but to increasing levels of complexity:.
As of April 15, , there are three classes of amateur radio licenses currently being issued to individual operators by the Federal Communications Commission for the United States Amateur Radio Service. There are also two other grandfathered license classes Novice and Advanced that are no longer being issued, but are still valid. Each class has a set of operating privileges. Generally speaking, higher license classes confer greater privileges in the HF, or high frequency, bands. Long distance communications are characteristic of the HF bands, because at those frequencies, radio signals can be refracted downward by the earth's ionosphere — in effect, bouncing between the sky and the ground over great distances.
By Chuck Gysi. You want to get your amateur radio license, so where do you begin? You know you need to take an exam, but what options are there? The Technician class is entry level, while General is the next step up.