As a service to future ham radio operators the Amateur Radio Caravan Club offers a list of the three steps to be taken to become a licensed amateur (ham) radio operator. 

In order to operate on assigned amateur (ham) radio frequencies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that the operator be licensed for those frequencies. They, through volunteer examiners, administer tests to determine if each student has enough knowledge to properly operate on those frequencies in the U.S. The beginning level license for a ham operator is the Technician level and the test has 35 questions pulled randomly from a question pool of 426 questions. This level allows you to operate on high frequencies that typically can reach other hams statewide…or worldwide using Internet programs. The General and Amateur Extra levels come next which affords you the authority to talk over the air worldwide.

[Note: In the spirit of amateur radio the Caravan Club wants it known that it receives no financial benefit from the organizations and websites below nor does it make any recommendations.  This list, in alphabetic order, is solely a public service.]



In the Albuquerque area there are several groups that periodically offer licensing classes. If you are interested, you should contact one of the following instructors to let them know that you would like to attend his next class:

Albuquerque/Rio Rancho VE Team

Marty Soffran, NM5MS and his team offer technician classes as well as licensing tests. His group tends to focus on teaching the answers to the test questions. Thus their classes are typically shorter but you will have to learn the radio theory by reading a Technician training manual or going online. He can be reached at 505-410-3992 (cell) or at for details.

Mid Rio Grande Amateur Radio Club (MRGARC)

Jim Hunter NM5JH and his team teach the theory behind each of the possible test questions so you will know why an answer is correct. Their classes for the Technician license typically begins on Friday evening, run all day Saturday and until about 2 PM on Sunday. At 2 PM, three volunteer examiners will administer your test while the information is fresh in your mind. You can contact Jim Hunter at 505-897-2939 (home); 505-259-3551 (cell) or for more details on upcoming classes.


You can self-study using a training manual such as the Amateur Radio Relay League’s “ARRL Ham Radio License Manual 3rd Edition” ($29.95). This manual contains all of the radio theory for the Technician license as well as all of the test questions (which are valid thru June 30, 2018. After that date, a new pool of questions come into effect). You can also take practice tests (below) to see how your studies are progressing.



Amateur radio is blessed with many helpful practice test websites to choose from. Online practice tests are used to assist students in passing their FCC test. Once you are able to consistently answer 85 to 90 percent of the questions correctly, you are ready to take the actual test. Good Luck!



AA9PW FCC Practice Exams (Free)

This site helps you practice for the any of the three written examinations required to obtain a US Amateur Radio license. Questions are randomly selected for each test.


ARRL Exam Review for Ham Radio (Free)

Offers practice exams for all 3 levels (technician, general & amateur extra)


Copasetic Flows Practice Exam (Free)

Include practice exams for the U.S., New Zealand & Canada Ham Exams (Free)

Offers practice exams for all 3 levels (technician, general & amateur extra)


Ham Academy (Free)

Part of the amateur radio education website. Also teach other skills. Amateur Radio Practice Exams (Free)

Includes online flash cards, practice exams and question pool for technician, general & extra. (Free)

Free ham radio flash cards, practice tests, and question pools


Ham Test Online ($24.95 for Technician)

“Top-rated on — 97% of reviewers give us 5 stars!”

$24.95 for a Technician 2 year subscription; General & Amateur Extra slightly more.

“Better than practice exams — we teach the materials, so you learn, not memorize.”


Ham Testing (Free)

Our tests are different. They are created dynamically from the entire question pool each time. This ensures that no two practice test that you take on our site are ever the same. Practice Amateur Radio Exams (Free)

Has practice exams for all 3 levels (technician, general & amateur extra)




Once you consistently score in the 85 to 90 percentile on your practice exams you are ready to take the FCC’s actual test. The FCC administers its tests through teams called “Volunteer Examiner Coordinators” (VEC) which are composed of local hams called “Volunteer Examiners” (VE’s) who, after some training, administer tests to others. A minimum of three VE’s are required to witness each testing session. They receive no pay but the FCC charges each student a $15 fee of which $1 can be kept for administrative costs by the VEC. You also need to bring your photo ID and your Social Security Number or FCC Registration Number (FRN) to the testing.

Below are several local VE teams that administer the FCC tests:


El Malpais Volunteer Examination Coordinator (VEC)

Frank Warren, AB5WJ, (505-962-9212 (home) or 505-270-7142 (cell)) or . Frank or his wife Kennie, W5KLW, can set up your test “anytime, anywhere” or at their home in Rio Rancho but prefer about 3 days notice in order to find the FCC-required 3 VE’s to administer the test.  They test using a laptop so you know immediately after you hit the “Enter” key if you are a ham operator or not.


High Desert Amateur Radio Club

The High Desert club tests on the third Saturday of every month at 12:30 PM…after their monthly meeting starting at 10:00 AM.  They meet in the community room of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Northwest Area Command Station, 10401 Cibola Loop NW, located on Ellison Dr NW one block west of Coors Bypass…or just north of Cibola High School.  Contact Jim Kajder at for details and the required pre-registration.  They use paper tests.


Albuquerque/Rio Rancho VE Team

Marty Soffran, NM5MS and his volunteer examiners offer licensing testing. He can be reached at 505-410-3992 (cell) or at Normally their fee is the FCC-required $15 but for members of public service organizations (search and rescue, ARES, BSA, etc.) and youth they are also members of the Laurel Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (VEC) who can test without the normal FCC-required testing fee.


That’s It! Once you have passed your test and found your assigned call sign on the FCC website about a week later, you are a ham radio operator and can begin making radio contacts.