The first thing to do is to get yourself registered with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC requires an application to be filled out. The aplication process is free. The only fee will be $14 paid to the Volunteer Examiners (VEs) at the exam session for administering the exam and processing the test documentation. The FCC application is easily done online at the FCC’s Universal Licensing Site (http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/). You should do this prior to taking your exam at the testing center because it will speed up the processing of your test results allowing you to get your license issued without delay.
In a previous article called “How To Get Your Amateur Radio License”, I told you how to learn what you need to know to pass the exam. Here you’ll learn how and where to register and take the exam. A good way to help you retain what you have learned is to take sample question and answer exams. These interactive online exams also tell you when you are ready to take the actual exam. Here are some links where you can practice what you’ve learned and test yourself: QRZ.COM , AA9PW.COM , eHAM.COM , ARRL.COM . It is a good idea to take more than one of these to test yourself, as they probably use slightly different question pools.
Now, once you’ve taken your class, studied your license manual, or were tutored by an ‘elmer’ (an ‘elmer’ is a friendly ham who helps a newbie get started), the next step is to find out where to take the exam. Amateur radio exams are given by volunteer examiners called VEs. VEs are required to be adults with General class licenses or higher and to pass certain other tests to be certified. VEs are tested and approved by a VE Coordinator staff (VEC). Exam sessions are organized by a VE team who administer and score the exams. As mentioned above, a $14 fee is collected at the time of the exam and passed on to the VEC to cover the cost of checking all documentation and entering the data into the FCC database. You will know before you leave if you passed.
These exams are offered in easy to find places like schools, churches, and other public and private buildings. They are often also given at hamfests. A hamfest is a flea market for amateur radio enthusiats. If you know a ham with a copy of QST, the ARRL monthly magazine for hams, there is usually a listing of upcoming exam locations, dates, and times. You can also go online to the ARRL website (arrl.org) and click on “Exams” at the top left for a list of exam locations, dates, and times which you can search by Zip code or state. These exam location listings will usually have a telephone number and an email address. Be sure to make contact to make sure information is still current and the exam will take place as scheduled. Important: you need to bring a photo I.D. to take the exam.
Well, that’s it. Now go do it!