You can study for the Technician exam on your own, with a friend, or as part of a class. Studying alone allows you to move at your own pace, but if you have difficulty understanding a topic you will have to search out the answer on your own. Pairing up with a buddy who also wants to get their license can help provide both mutual encouragement as well as someone to quiz you on the exam questions.
Once you have decided to get your license, you may wonder what steps you need to take. This page should contain all the information you need to understand how Amateur Radio licensing works, how to prepare, and finally how to actually take the exam. If you have questions about any of the information presented, please ask us!
Currently, there are three classes of Amateur Radio licenses granted by the FCC: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. (As you study, you may see a couple of other license classes mentioned, however, these are historical and are no longer issued by the FCC.) Everyone starts as a Technician licensee, and then can upgrade their license to General or Amateur Extra levels. Each additional level requires more understanding about how Amateur Radio works, but in return opens up more frequencies that you can make use of. (For example, Technician licensees have limited privileges in the HF bands, but upgrading to General opens up many more HF bands to play with.) This page will focus on getting your Technician license -- once you've been through the process, upgrading your license will follow a similar path.
If you're not part of a class studying for the exam, you may find that you have questions or need clarification on one or more topics covered by the exam. If you know someone who already has an Amateur Radio license, ask them! At one point or another, everyone was new to the world of Amateur Radio. Most experienced hams are more than happy to assist new and aspiring hams. (You may hear these hams referred to as "elmers".)
Many Amateur Radio clubs offer licensing classes on a periodic basis. If you would prefer to learn with a group of other people, this is the way to go! In the Tucson area, the Radio Society of Tucson offers both Technician and General license classes as need and demand arise. Visit their site to see when the next class will be offered. Other clubs also offer classes -- find out what clubs are near you and then ask them about any classes offered. Not sure what clubs are nearby? Try using the ARRL's club locator!
Here is a list of various manuals and study resources that you may find useful as you study for your Technician exam. While they all cover the same material (the current Technician question pool), you may find that the format or presentation of material in one of them more closely matches your preferred manner of learning.
Before the big day, spend some time taking practice exams. This will help you become familiar with the format of the exam and give you confidence that you'll ace it! There are many online sites that will automatically generate a 35 question Technician exam for you, then score your answers to let you see how you did. One such site is eHam.net, but there are many others. Once you are passing by a fair margin it's time to find an exam session.
Congratulations! You passed your Technician exam and received your own call sign. Here are some things you can do with your new privileges:
A highly recommended resource as you begin your adventures in Amateur Radio is titled "Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur". This is an excellent document that describes how to be a polite and efficient Amateur Radio operator of the highest caliber. You can learn more here.