I'm an Amateur Radio enthusiast from way back; mostly CB and 10 meters. I have a couple of hand-held Baofengs that I want to use for family communications and as a backup link in case of emergencies.

I want to get my Federal number and technician license so that I'm legal.

I have been reading a lot of material on the Web, and it has been a little confusing as to where to start.

There are many local clubs to join where I live in Georgia; I just need to know where to start. I know that I need a license from the FCC, but would appreciate help in what to do first and where is the best information on handheld programming of these little radios.

I don't want to just fire it up and start fumbling around without knowing what to do. Thanks for any help you all can provide.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello Sid, and welcome to the site! You're asking different questions. How about if we just address your license question first. You should ask a separate question about programming. $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2019 at 2:06
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah sounds good. I'm going to look up some VE in my area and preceed to get my tech license to start with. I had just read that I would need an FRN to register with one of the local VE so that they don't have to deal with my SSN. Thanks for your suggestion and help Mike! $\endgroup$
    – Sid Saxon
    Feb 11, 2019 at 20:39

2 Answers 2


The traditional way to get licensed is to contact a local club, join up with an Elmer (ham-speak for a mentor), and get guidance to study for the license exam. It's likely your local club also hosts several license exam sittings per year (in my area, there are at least three clubs that, between them, provide at least two exams each month within an hour's drive).

That said, the Technician license is a breeze compared to what even Novice was when I was a teen. If you've had a license previously, Technician or higher, you can probably take the exam (written only -- no code required in almost twenty years) cold and pass -- you need 74% correct on thirty-five questions out of a pool of 432, and the entire pool is available at the ARRL web site, along with "practice exams" containing randomly selected questions from the pool, just like the exam you'll ultimately take.

Pass the exam at an organized session, pay your fee, and wait a few weeks, and you'll have your license.


A starting point is : https://apps.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do , click the button for "Register". This will get you into the process for obtaining your FRN : Federal Registration Number. Once you have that you can take an exam. Do a web search for your area and look for VE ( Volunteer Examiner ) Exams , Technician Exams or just Amateur Radio clubs. You can also search for your Counties or your Cities ARES ( Amateur Radio Emergency Service ) group - these folks will know all the local information. There are a great number of online practice testing tools if you find that there is nothing to be had locally. All you'll need do then is travel once for the exam.

  • $\begingroup$ Is the FRN required for licensing? I understood you could use your Social Security Number. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Feb 11, 2019 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ It's not required, but I recommend it. Otherwise, your SSN will be on public record. $\endgroup$
    – mrog
    Feb 11, 2019 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ A FRN can be obtained ahead of time or you can use your social security number on the application. If you use your SSN then a FRN will be given to you when you get your license. The Application is not a public record and noone expect the VE giving the exam and the VEC that administers the process such as he ARRL will have access to it. I have never hear of SSN being "leaked" by a VE team or VEC. $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Feb 12, 2019 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ VE's don't "need" the FRN to administer the exam, but they will need a number - either the FRN or SSN. Since , by law , the SSN is not to be used for identification any longer , the FCC instituted the FRN system. As pointed out above , once you start the process for getting a license, you will get an FRN anyway. I have been told both by an FCC representative and by a GLAARG member that using an SSN slows down the process a bit. $\endgroup$
    – ASzy
    Feb 12, 2019 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ A lot of VEs will require FRN (even though the FCC takes SSN or FRN) because they don't want the liability of having a bunch of copies of SSNs in their files. See birddogve.com/we-require-an-frn-number for example. If you have an FRN, you won't run into problems regardless of which VE group you test with. $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2019 at 22:43

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