Lesson 7

U.S. Amateur Licenses


Your "ticket" to the air

An amateur radio license is what allows you to get on the air and talk to other hams. Your amateur license allows you to control an amateur station's transmissions.

With a US amateur license, you are allowed to operate wherever the amateur service is regulated by the FCC. This means that wherever you go in the U.S. or it's possessions, you are allowed to operate your amateur station.

When you pass the necessary exams and earn your first license, your application for a new license is passed on to the FCC. Then the FCC grants you an amateur operator/primary station license. You are not legally able to operate until the FCC has granted you this license.

Before you are allowed to operate an amateur radio station the FCC database must show that you have been granted an amateur license. This makes it easier to get on the air faster because you can call the FCC to find out your new callsign shortly after passing your exams (1-2 weeks). After you know what you callsign is, you can get on the air. (Before, you had to wait 6-8 weeks (or longer) for your license to arrive in the mail before you could get on the air.)

There are other ways to get on the air in the U.S.

An amateur service license from the United Nations Secretary of Communications does NOT allow a person to control a U.S. amateur station.

The amateur operator/primary station license

The FCC's full name for an amateur station license is "amateur operator/primary station license". This is because there is a dual nature to a U.S. amateur radio license. The first applies to the operator. The second applies to the station. This can best be analogized to driving a vehicle.

The control operator

The amateur station


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Daniel Reynolds - AA0NI - August 21, 1998