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Ham Radio License Q&A

Q:  What is a Technician class license?

A: The Technician class license is the introductory amateur radio license. There are three license classes: Technician, General and Extra. Each subsequent license class provides you more frequency privileges, among other benefits. For example, General class licensees get HF privileges, and Extra class licensees can serve as volunteer examiners for Technicians through Extras.

Q: What can I do with my Technician's class license?

A: The Technician class license allows you to operate an amateur radio station on all amateur radio frequencies above 50 MHz (and select frequencies below that). The Technician frequency privileges include the popular 2 meter band where most local and area communications occur. An amateur with their Technician license can use their mobile, hand-held, or base-station radio to communication with other hams through repeaters, via internet connections, or amateur radio satellites. Many hams use their licenses to participate as storm spotters or provide emergency communications support.

Q: Do I need to know Morse code to get my amateur radio license?

A: No! The Morse code element of the exam was removed in 2006. However, code is still a very common mode to find on the bands. In fact, it's a great way to earn a ton of points at field day!

Q: Are there any age requirements to get an amateur radio license?

A: No, anyone can obtain an amateur radio license as long as they're able to pass the license exam.

Q: What is the total cost to get my amateur radio license?

A: Nothing (if you test with us)! While some VE teams charge a fee, W5AC charges no fees thanks to the Laurel VEC. While our exams are free, each exam session incurs costs for W5AC. In return we request that you support us, either by donating, or by becoming a member. What better way to put your new license to use than by joining a ham club?

Q: What is a VEC?

A: VEC stands for Volunteer Examiner Coordinator. A VEC is an organization who manages a team of volunteer examiners to administer license examinations in the United States. W5AC works with the Laurel VEC to provide examinations free of charge. 

Q: What topics are covered on the Technician license exam?

A: The Technician license exam, or element 2, consists of 35 multiple-choice questions. The test covers basic FCC rules, communications methods and procedures, and basic electronics and safety topics. A passing score is 26 out of 35 questions answered correctly.

W5AC administers examinations monthly before every meeting. To find out the next testing date, or to request a special testing session for you or your student organization, please email the club officers at clubofficers (at) w5ac (dot) tamu (dot) edu

W5AC's license exam sessions are currently on hold while we find ways to hold exam sessions while remaining compliant with university health and safety guidance. For updates, please subscribe to our listserv

This article was updated on August 12, 2020