All countries require operators to display knowledge and understanding of key communications concepts in order to obtain a ham license. In the US, the FCC does so by requiring US citizens to take a ham radio test to prove their knowledge of the communications basics before receiving a ham license.
A license grants an individual the privilege to operate a station on crowded airwaves which all belong to the federal government as a limited public resource. Licenses avoid chaos in the radio spectrum by grouping similar users into bands to minimize interference and extract the maximum use out of the fixed amount of frequency spectrum. The amateur spectrum in the US is regulated by Part 97.
Amateur radio licensing in the United States has three license levels which are the Technician Class, the General Class, and Amateur Extra Class licenses. The Technician Class license is the entry level license. The General and Extra licenses allow operators who pass them access to larger portions of the Amateur Radio spectrum and more desirable (shorter) call signs.
An exam, authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is required for all levels. These exams are administered by Volunteer Examiners, accredited by the FCC-recognized Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) system. The Technician Class and General Class exams consist of 35 multiple-choice questions, drawn randomly from a pool of at least 350. To pass, 26 of the 35 questions must be answered correctly. The Extra Class exam has 50 multiple choice questions (drawn randomly from a pool of at least 500), 37 of which must be answered correctly. The tests cover regulations, customs, and technical knowledge, such as FCC provisions, operating practices, advanced electronics theory, radio equipment design, and safety. Morse Code is no longer a requirement to get a license. Once you pass the exam, the FCC issues an Amateur Radio license for 10 years. It is renewable for another 10 years without retesting. Studying for the exam is easy because the entire question pools for all license classes are posted on line and in study guides you can purchase. The question pools are updated every four years and re-published on-line and in new study materials. The exact questions and the exact multiple answers are in the study guides. You just don’t know which questions will be pulled from the overall pool of questions for your individual test.
Contact a member of the Springhill Amateur Radio Club to find out a local test date and location. Study guides can be found on line at www.arrl.org