Why Do You Need a Ham Radio License? The 8-3-3 Formula Will Give You the Answer!

There are lots of people who question: “Why do you need a ham radio license?” because ham radio is usable for everyone without this type of certification.

Indeed, you can use ham radio without a license, but mainly for listening and receiving information — for instance, listening to FM radio, emergency weather radio, local municipalities radio communication, local amateur radio transmission, or scanning local frequencies.

This means that you cannot use a ham radio for transmitting unless you own a license and call sign.

To give more information to all who are wondering, this article is going to show you 8 reasons why you need a license to operate a ham radio. Do not hesitate to scroll down and explore incredible things about a license for a ham radio.

8 Reasons Why You Have to Get a Ham Radio License

Before going deeper into these 8 reasons below, please note that most of them are benefits you can get instead of legal requirements (which are a must). They are good reasons for you to not only get a license but also upgrade your life quality.

1. The license permits you to communicate long-distance without depending on the Internet or landlines.

Ham radio is considered as a way for communicating independently. Radio, battery, and license are all that is required to operate a ham radio.

Once you are licensed, you can talk on lower frequencies that have a longer wavelength and transmission distances. Moreover, your license demonstrates you are knowledgeable in using this equipment. Then, communicating nationwide and worldwide without Internet access or a cell tower is possible.

2. The license allows you to use a direct line of communication in urgent cases.

This direct line is provided by the software and hardware of the amateur radio. It is very useful for ham operators, especially in emergency situations when the failure of daily communication forms takes place. The license is kind of a “ticket” for you to use the direct line legally.

Amateur Radio in New York City on 9/11 – Emergency Communications


3. You can join in and be a part of the like-minded community.

The ticket named ham radio license also opens a new door for you, since it helps you to connect with members of the ham radio community who have the same passion and hobby.

Among these members, there are off-roaders who are very passionate about ham radio. You can have talks with them to know more tips on using this tool or how it acts as their savior.

Besides, ham radio is also the choice of outdoorsmen and hiking enthusiasts. You can approach them and listen to their sharings about how ham radio helps them in previous journeys.

Tip for you: During your learning and practicing process to get the license, you can take part in the local ham radio community. Some realistic knowledge of this tool you would gain from the members will be helpful in your upcoming examination.

4. You can volunteer to help others.

Besides the capability of protecting your family and beloved people, you can be a valuable person once you get a ham radio license. This certification allows you to participate in organizations where you can help other people in emergencies.

There are several organizations for you to volunteer in, such as FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).

5. You can add this new “certified” skill to your profile.

It cannot be denied that a profile/resume which shows many skills is more outstanding and attractive than others, especially survival skills requiring patience and hard work of the owner like using ham radio. Therefore, getting this license is considered as a way to enrich your profile/resume.

6. Consequences of operating a ham radio without a license

Ham radio operates on a wide range of spectra and frequencies, allowing amateurs to have communication worldwide, and it is free.

Therefore, the capability of ham radio being utilized for improper purposes occurs, which affects the communication procedure, especially during some cases of disaster and crisis or when daily forms of communication break down.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), licensing is required for radio transmissions. Thus, any unauthorized radio operations can be punished by a range of enforcement measures, consisting of equipment confiscation as well as other civil and criminal penalties.

7. It is easier for you to get a ham radio license than before.

Today, Morse code is no longer required to obtain a license for ham radio. However, it is beneficial to yourself if you know it.

In addition, there are various documents and materials for you to learn about ham radio. They are books from experts in this area, or Youtube videos shared by enthusiasts or former examinees, etc. Therefore, if you are worried about the shortage of reliable sources, you can stop now!

Note for you: This article also provides you with some credible sources and materials you can use for your learning and practicing. Stay tuned!

8. You just need a low budget now to get a substantial return in the future.

To illustrate, let’s do a simple calculation.

First, ARRL, which is the largest ham radio organization in the USA, offers you an exam session that costs only $15.

Second, you only spend about $8 – $10 for documents and materials, or you can save this fee by researching them online.

Third, you can buy a radio for under $50 to practice while learning theories.

Finally, you can choose either a $50-offline-class or an around $25-online-course to be taught everything about ham radio.

As a result, the total cost you need to spend is just around $90 – $125. If you are on a tight budget, this won’t cause you anxiety.

3 Different Levels of Ham Radio License

After going through every single reason, we believe that you are now clear about the importance of a license for ham radio. Next, we will detail the 3 official types of license for your consideration before you set to work on any of them.

1. Technician license

This is the “entry” level certification for newbies who would like to operate ham radio at the basics.

With this license, you can communicate on the majority of frequencies above 30MHz within North America, including VHF (very high frequency), UHF (ultra-high frequency), and enjoy several restricted rights on the HF used for worldwide communication.

To earn the Technician license, you have to pass an exam of 35 questions out of the 426 question pool. These questions cover ham radio theories, basic laws, and operating practices, ranging from very easy to relatively difficult.

2. General license

The General license is likely the most popular class. Once you are certified at this level, you will be able to use all VHF and UHF ham radio bands. Also, HF bands from 10 to 160 meters will become available to you.

To reach this level, all you need to do is pass a 35-questions exam. It covers various categories from a bank of 463 questions. Moreover, you are required to pass the Technician written exam before taking the General one.

3. Amateur Extra license

This is the highest level of the three licenses. If you would like to have worldwide communication on all frequencies and bands, this is the level you need to pass.

To obtain this license, you have to take a 50 question exam from a pool of 712 questions. It covers various categories relating to ham radio and electronics. Besides, it requires you to pass written exams of the previous levels. If you are passionate about ham radio, you can achieve it.

3 Helpful Things for You in Your Journey to Get Licensed

You are not alone in this journey as you have lots of credible sources to accompany you.

1. Books

We cannot deny that books are a great study source for us, especially for new ham radio operators to learn skills and practice. There are books that you can read, such as The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual and Ham Radio for Dummies.

2. Youtube videos

Besides books, videos shared by ham radio experts or enthusiasts on Youtube are also a huge source for you, particularly when you practice.

You can simply find videos discussing the ways to use radio types or even sharings from former licensed examinees. It is a good way for you to gain experience before heading to the final stage of this journey.

3. Online materials

First of all, as we have mentioned earlier, three license levels of the ARRL exams contain questions from the question pools. You can find all of them on the ARRL’s website.


So, why do you need a ham radio license? We think you have got the answer since this article has shown you 8 reasons highlighting the importance of a license for ham radio that you cannot ignore.

In addition, we have detailed the 3 different licenses, which are Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. While all of them allow for radio operation, the higher your license is, the more privileges you have as an operator.

Last but not least, like and share this article with your friends or communities if you find it useful.

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