How to become a Ham Radio operator

Below is an excellent and helpful write-up by CPG LA member and Ham Radio I/C Alan Morrisett  to help anyone interested in becoming involved with Ham Radio. (There is a some time-sensitive data relevant to LA as well.)


Ham radio licensing in the U.S comes in three levels:  Technician, General, and Amateur Extra.  To start with you’ll want to get a Technician license, which is in any case required to get a higher level license and which is the first gradient in your hatting.  It may be all that you will ever need or want, depending on your goal for this.  In very broad terms, a Technician license mostly enables you to communicate on shorter wavelengths which are good for line-of-sight communication, and over a bit longer distances through radio repeaters that are located on mountains and tall buildings.

Getting a Technician class license is very do-able.  It probably involves 10 hours of study, more or less, and then taking an exam that is offered once a month at sites in Van Nuys or Pasadena.

I recommend that you get the ARRL book ‘Ham Radio License Manual’ which you can get on Amazon for $26.96:

You can also pick one up at Ham Radio Outlet in Burbank for $29.95:

The book contains a copy of the entire question pool for the Technician exam, as well as the theory behind the questions.  The next step would be to drill doing the exam so that you’ll know whether you’re ready to go in and actually take it.  You can use this website to drill the exam: .  Using this website you can drill the test as many times as you want, and the questions come from the exact same question pool that will be used on a real exam.

ham radio drilling

With just a study of the book and drilling of the exam, you should be able to pass the test.  If you’re interested in taking a class, I’ve only found one in the LA area being offered soon, which is on Saturday Jan 18, 2015 from 9am to 4:30pm in Agoura Hills, costing $55.  See this this web page for more info:

 If you would like to do your own search for a licensing class you can use this ARRL website:

Once you’re ready to take the exam, you go to an exam location when it’s offered and take it.  The cost is $15 (cash preferred).  If you fail it the first time you could just re-take it immediately with no extra cost, but if you’ve drilled using the website there is no worry of that happening.

To find a license exam you can use the ARRL website:

Agoura Hills hame license class.png’

The two locations that I’ve personally taken exams are in Van Nuys, offered on the first Saturday of each month at 11:00 am: and in Pasadena, offered the second Saturday of every month at 11:00 am  You can sign up for the exam ahead of time or just show up, as they both take walk-ins.


Alan Morrisett

email address 

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Categories: 1-Communications Devices and LA Only.