If you get a ham license, can you, later on, get a job with that license, or at least display it on a resume? Or are there further licenses after ham radio licenses?

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Reid AG6YO
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 18:39

4 Answers 4


The answer is YES!

Nothing in the rules prevents you from using the existence of your license to help you get a job.

If you plan on going into a radio/TV/Cable engineering job, a amateur radio license(at the Extra level or Advanced Qualifications in Canada) can be very helpful to your career.

Study learn the concepts and understand the math to pass the Extra exam. During my studies, I worked out the how and why for each problem and developed similar problems to be worked out.

Having a "photographic memory" helps but it only goes so far. The intermediate steps are important, even if you have to work them out backwards(You may not see this now, but in the future, it will help).

Simply memorizing the answers does a disservice to you and the Amateur Community as a whole. You need to have a firm understanding of complex numbers, sine and cosine waves, phasor diagrams, AC theory, LC and RLC circuit design, Euler's equation, Smith charts, wave propagation, Electric fields and Magnetic flux fields.

To answer your question on licenses beyond Amateur Radio, the FCC offers the Commercial Radio Operator License Program This program is somewhat parallel to the amateur licensing, but is more oriented to commercial operators.(There are multiple levels of qualifications)

The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers the Certified Broadcast Technologist certification to Extra certified hams with two years of satisfactory experience in the broadcast field.

I hope this post both encourages you and challenges you to learn what you didn't know.

The more I learn; The more I learn that I do not know. After decades of experience, I can tell you that this is true, and even now: What I don't know exceeds that which I do know.

Yes, you cannot use your Amateur License for commercial purposes, but that restriction does not effect your ability to use it to get a job.

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    $\begingroup$ Further to this, amateur radio can be used in educational contexts; this includes things ranging from grade-school ham clubs to phd-level aerospace telemetry. The teachers that lead the ham clubs, and the engineers and techs who build the radios on the sounding rockets, are using their licenses in the context of employment. Caveat: my source for the latter case is Canadian and the rules may be different in the US. My Amateur examiner had just done a bank of exams for students in a university Aerospace PhD program. $\endgroup$
    – CCTO
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 22:20

If you get a ham license, can you, later on, get a job with that license, or at least display it on a resume. Is that possible.

The other answers already cover this pretty thoroughly, so in short:

  • it's fine to include it on your résumé as an educational/certification accomplishment, but…
  • …you may not earn money for operating a ham radio station [with a few exceptions].

Or is there further licenses after ham radio licenses.

The FCC issues many, many types of licenses. Which ones are "further" or "better" depends on your goals and perspective.

  • Without passing any sort of test, you can pay a fee and get a GMRS license for a ten-year term. This is like an in-game purchase for FRS walkie-talkies.
  • To carefully test a new idea, you might be able to get an experimental license application approved.
  • If you have a decent chunk of money and go through some paperwork, you can get a business license that e.g. your employees could use as they earn money.
  • If you have an even bigger downpayment, and can fill out lots of technical and legal paperwork you could apply for a TV/radio broadcast license; if you are friends with a high-level diplomat/ambassador you might even be able to get permission to set up a shortwave broadcast station.
  • If you have billions of dollars you could lease some spectrum and set up a cellular service.
  • Getting permission to run a CubeSat transponder is apparently in reach of many clubs/universities and is literally the "highest" radio license I can think of, if we're measuring in sea level terms 👽

I'm sure there's at least several other types of licenses I've missed. For example, an FAA-licensed pilot basically gets an automatic radio license for their plane, and it's a bit similar with the radios on recreational boats.

All that said, there is one particular license that comes to mind, and that is the Commercial Operator License, better known to hams as the GROL license. Informally, it's kind of considered the "next step" after earning an Amateur Extra and is potentially more valuable on a résumé because:

You need a commercial operator license to operate, and/or to repair and maintain, specified ship, and aircraft radio communication stations.

Note however that you no longer need this license to work on the probably more lucrative business/cell radio equipment, although having it would presumably be a plus to someone hiring in those industries too. The state-of-the-art that powers $$$ things like 5G and 802.11ax and Ultra-wideband is more in the digital (signal processing) realm, not in memorizing the frequencies used to send faxes about the weather to seafarers.

To get to the point:

If you're interested in radio, a Technician-class license in the Amateur Radio Service is a really really great place to start. That's your "ticket" to a whole lot of things. From there you can decide if you want to go for sport/social (upgrade to General/Amateur Extra) or as a radio officer/technician (earn the GROL) or as an RF engineer (learn SDR/DSP/EE).

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    $\begingroup$ Very nice comprehensive answer! $\endgroup$
    – user10489
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 0:34
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    $\begingroup$ Very nice. My knowledge beyond the Ham offerings was limited. Thank you for expanding the list. $\endgroup$
    – KX4UQ
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 2:25
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    $\begingroup$ Please note that CubeSat has only one FCC requirement beyond a Technicians license: the ability to be remotely turned off (remote kill switch.) NASA and other agencies require orbital parameters and end of life planning for any new orbiting object. For a small object in low earth orbit, this just means letting the orbit decay(either naturally or induced through propulsion) until it burns up in the atmosphere. $\endgroup$
    – KX4UQ
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 3:59

§97.113 Prohibited transmissions states:

(a) No amateur station shall transmit:

(1) Communications specifically prohibited elsewhere in this part;

(2) Communications for hire or for material compensation, direct or indirect, paid or promised, except as otherwise provided in these rules;

(3) Communications in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including communications on behalf of an employer, with the following exceptions:

(i) A station licensee or station control operator may participate on behalf of an employer in an emergency preparedness or disaster readiness test or drill, limited to the duration and scope of such test or drill, and operational testing immediately prior to such test or drill. Tests or drills that are not government-sponsored are limited to a total time of one hour per week; except that no more than twice in any calendar year, they may be conducted for a period not to exceed 72 hours.

(ii) An amateur operator may notify other amateur operators of the availability for sale or trade of apparatus normally used in an amateur station, provided that such activity is not conducted on a regular basis.

(iii) A control operator may accept compensation as an incident of a teaching position during periods of time when an amateur station is used by that teacher as a part of classroom instruction at an educational institution.

(iv) The control operator of a club station may accept compensation for the periods of time when the station is transmitting telegraphy practice or information bulletins, provided that the station transmits such telegraphy practice and bulletins for at least 40 hours per week; schedules operations on at least six amateur service MF and HF bands using reasonable measures to maximize coverage; where the schedule of normal operating times and frequencies is published at least 30 days in advance of the actual transmissions; and where the control operator does not accept any direct or indirect compensation for any other service as a control operator.

The underlying principle here is "pecuniary interest", which is reflected in §97.3 Definitions:

(4) Amateur service. A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.

The only thing that trumps "without pecuniary interest" is emergency situations. During an emergency, you may use any means of communication possible to obtain help.

And if your job involves ham radio as a possible emergency communication method, you can do the occasional drill as part of your job. For example, if you are employed by the Red Cross, and were conducting a drill for how you might respond to a natural disaster, that could be allowed.

But you can't otherwise use the amateur service for your job. For example, you can't use it to dispatch trucks. For that you will need to use a commercial service.

You can however use it to talk about your job, when you have no pecuniary interest in doing so. For example, you can talk with a friend after work about what a hard day you had at work. You can also (if your employer doesn't mind) use your ham radio while at work, if you're not doing work with the radio. For example if you were a parking lot attendant and had a lot of idle time to pass, you could talk about non-work stuff with other amateurs, or work on making FT8 contacts to complete some certification.

And note, these regulations apply to what you transmit. The FCC does not regulate in any way what you can put on your resume. If you think showing your license to an employer makes you a more valuable candidate, for example by showing your personal interest in radio, you can do that.

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    $\begingroup$ @hopefulhacker did you read the whole answer, to the end? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ @hopefulhacker Feel free to skip the quoted references if you like, but no, I don't think a three-line summary is really appropriate in this case. Frankly what you're asking is a little rude. I spent a good 20 minutes researching this issue for you, assembling references from primary sources, and writing clear and simple examples. If you aren't willing to invest the time and effort to read and comprehend five paragraphs of prose, it comes across as laziness and people will be less willing to help you in the future. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ I'm really sorry, please don't take it that way. What I meant was that I wasn't really able to understand so much material so I asked for a summary. Please don't take it offensively. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ Phil's last paragraph is a relevant summary regarding resumes. Years ago, (before WiFi) when terrestrial radio had fewer applications, adding to a resume: "run an active ham radio station" likely gave me a leg-up over other candidates - a job was offered. Today, there is far more opportunity for radio-wise job candidates. $\endgroup$
    – glen_geek
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ @PhilFrost-W8II, I do not believe the OP meant any harm in asking for clarification, since your answer, while clear and well referenced, only tangentially answers the question as asked. Before calling someone lazy or rude, please ask yourself did I answer the question as posted? Of the five paragraphs only the last two sentences address the question at hand. "You cannot use your license on air for financial gain (with exceptions: see 97.113.3)" would be a sufficient summation of the bulk of your post.Good information, but not asked for in the question. $\endgroup$
    – KX4UQ
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 2:10

Amateur radio prohibits being paid to transmit. However, nothing in the amateur radio rules prohibits you from using skills developed as an amateur radio operator in a professional setting. Part of the purpose of amateur radio is to encourage development of such skills for professional use.

Putting amateur radio on your resume is an indicator that you have a certain level of technical ability and interest. At the very least, it indicates you understand the radio terminology well enough to pass the test. Some employers look for this and appreciate it on a resume, especially if your profession is not directly radio related but could involve interfacing with radios and electrical engineers.

As to licenses beyond amateur radio -- there are many radio license types and certifications and degrees indicating competence in these areas. Amateur radio may be a good gateway into these other areas as it introduces you to the foundation material needed for them.


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