In any emergency situation, communication is very vital. And having a Ham radio license or sometimes called an amateur radio license will get you a long way, both in receiving and giving up-to-date and on-site information during a crisis.

Ham radios give you access to different air frequencies. But before you can do this, you must first pass a written Ham Radio License test and understand the rules on how to operate a Ham Radio legally and responsively.

So, how do you get your ham radio license? Well, just follow these 7 simple and easy steps.

But before that, here are some of the most common ham radio Q- signals that you need to know.

Ham Radio Q- Signals:

Q Signal Meaning
QRL Is the frequency busy?
The frequency is busy. Please do not interfere.
QRM Abbreviation for interference from other signals.
QRN Abbreviation for interference from natural or human-made
QRO Shall I increase power?
Increase power.
QRP Shall I decrease power?
Decrease power.
QRQ Shall I send faster?
Send faster (__words per minute [wpm]).
QRS Shall I send more slowly?
Send more slowly (__wpm).
QRT Shall I stop sending or transmitting?
Stop sending or transmitting.
QRU Have you anything more for me?
I have nothing more for you.
QRV Are you ready?
I am ready.
QRX Stand by.
QRZ Who is calling me?
QSB Abbreviation for signal fading.
QSL Did you receive and understand?
Received and understood.
QSO Abbreviation for a contact.
QST General call preceding a message addressed to all amateurs.
QSX I am listening to ___ kHz.
QSY Change to transmission on another frequency (or to ___
QTH What is your location?
My location is ____.

Steps On How To Get A Ham Radio License

1. Decide on the type of Ham license that you want.

Getting your Ham Radio license is actually easy. In fact, there are 3 types of Ham licenses that you can get- Technician (35- easy multiple-choice exam from a pool of 400 questions), General (35- moderately difficulty multiple-choice exam from a pool of 500 questions), and Extra (The most difficult license to obtain. 50 hard multiple-choice exam from a pool of 700 questions).

These 3 types of Ham Radio Licenses give you different privileges on the airwaves.

  • Technician license: Local airwaves
  • General license: Local and national airwaves
  • Extra: Local, national, and international airwaves

Remember,  before you can get the General and Extra Ham Radio License, you must first pass the Technician license.

2. Review for your test

If what you are aiming is to get a general or extra ham radio license, then, you must focus your attention first on successfully passing the technician ham radio license exams. Because this is the first step for you to obtain the other two licenses. The Technician test requires you to know some frequencies, operating rules, knowledge of basic safety, electoral and electronic principles and some basic arithmetic.

3. Join a local Ham Club

Joining a local ham club is helpful if you are planning to take a ham radio license exam. Local ham clubs offer classes to help you study and prepare for the test and the members can also teach you about radio lingo and equipment.

4. Take the licensing Exams

Before you take the exam, you need first to contact your local Ham Radio club to find out what the cost of the test is and when will be the exact date of the next Ham Radio licensing exam in your area. Once you have passed the test and you get your license, you will be assigned a “call sign” by the Federal Communications Commission or the FCC. Your Ham Radio License is valid for 10 years.

After successfully passing the technician test, you will now be able to access frequencies above 30 megahertz. This is the frequency that allows you to communicate locally using your ham radio.

Here’s a list of review resources that you can check if you are planning on taking a Ham Radio License exam.

  • QRZ: Ham Radio News, look-up who is a Ham in your neighborhood, and a lot of other useful tools
  •  A complete and free video course is available online. The instructor uses the ARRL Technician study manual, but you don’t need the manual if you use the free resources listed here.
  • Kb6nu Ham Radio Blog:” No-Nonsense Study Guides”
  • A free site for studying made by Richard Bateman (call sign: KD7BBC): Ham keeps track of your studying, ensures that you see all 500 questions that may possibly come upon the 35-question exam.
  • Practical Amateur Radio Podcast:  Great for listening to the course while jogging, gardening, or doing other activities.
  • American Radio Relay League: At this site, you can purchase books to study for the test.

Note: The question pool for each of the three licensing exams changes every 2 years.

5. Get yourself a quality Ham Radio

Taking the Ham Radio licensing examination won’t cost you much. But when you have already passed and gotten your Ham radio License, then, it is to be expected that you get a quality Ham Radio. The price range of a good ham radio depends on the type of radio and the purpose that you will be using it. There are radios that will cost you just around 50 dollars and there are some that have a price range of over 700 dollars. It will now be up to you to choose the Ham radio that suits you and your budget.

6. Study, Learn, and Understand the rules of the waves

There are procedures, rules, and behavioral expectations when using a ham radio. And all of these can be learned by communicating to other Hams. Swearing is a very big NO-NO when using a Ham. CB “lingo” used on citizen band radios are also not tolerated and are in fact a violation of the FCC rules. Furthermore, when using a ham radio, all communications must be ” in the clear and precise” and hiding a different meaning of your communication is not permitted.

7. Practice makes perfect

There is only one way to perfection, and that is through practice, practice, and more practice. This also applies to ham radios. There are different frequencies, codes, and terms that you need to know and memorize if you want to become a ham radio operator. Don’t expect that you will learn this by just using your ham radio once. It takes time, patience and most of all dedication to learn the various emergency frequencies and on how to connect with others.

There you have it. I hope this article will help guide you if you are planning or thinking of getting yourself a Ham Radio License.