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Amateur Radio License

CERA's mission includes programs that promote Amateur Radio by providing Amateur Radio licensing classes, test sessions, and support to improve the skills of licensed Amateur Radio Operators (HAMs) for personal enjoyment or to provide communication services to government agencies and the general public in times of emergency or to charitable agencies for their community fund raising events (like bike-a-thons, races, etc.).

The word "Amateur" is used as a differentiator to "Commercial" radio because HAMs volunteer their services for free without payment or monetary gain.

CERA and the El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club (EDCARC) would love to support your quest to become a new HAM or an upgraded HAM. It's a great way to learn and expand your radio skills, become part of a passionate local and world wide community, and serve your community if you are interested in helping with emergency communications working with government agencies or charitable organizations. Learn more about how our EDCARC ARES members supported Caldor Fire Animal Rescue and residents during the 2022 El Dorado County snow storms when residents lost power,  phone, and internet services. More stories can be found on our In the News page.

To become a HAM and before you can get on the air, you will need to pass at least one license exam and be granted an amateur radio license by the FCC.

There are three classes of licenses in the U.S. and the corresponding license exam questions increase in technical complexity as you progress through upgrading your license. The great news is that exams no longer require passing a morse code test, only written tests. Passing an exam means answering 74% of the questions correctly.

  • Technician License - This is the entry-level license for most new HAMs. The exam includes 35 questions on radio theory, regulations, and operating practices. HAMs with a Technician license will be able to operate on amateur radio frequencies above 30 MHz. If your goal is to communicate with other HAMs in your local area by voice, a Technician license may be sufficient for your needs.
  • General License - A General license is the entry point for HAMs to widen their ability to communicate with the rest of the world and have greater privileges to operate on all amateur radio bands and all operating modes. You must pass your Technician exam before you can take the General exam which is also 35 questions with more complex questions.
  • Amateur Extra License - The Amateur Extra license is the highest recognized license class. The exam questions are more difficult and consists of 50 questions. Prerequisites are passing the Technician and General exams first. An Amateur Extra license is required to operate on the amateur radio frequencies reserved only for Amateur Extra license holders.

Qualified members of the El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club who completed the requirements to become a Volunteer Examiner conduct in-person and online testing sessions which includes proctoring and maintaining the integrity of examinations, processing registrations, and electronically filing applications with the FCC. Consult CERA's Monthly Calendar for the next in-person testing session. Online Amateur Radio Volunteer Testing sessions take place 7 days a week and can be found at

Tim Allen in Last Man Standing featuring Amateur Radio - Photo from John Amodeo NN6JA
Tim Allen in Last Man Standing featuring Amateur Radio - Photo from John Amodeo NN6JA