Now, FCC offers three kinds of licenses to Ham radio users. You’ve got the Technician, the general, and the extra. The extra being the ultimate as it will get you the most privileges.
Let’s not go there. I want to talk about Ham radio Technician licenses vs. General licenses. That’s because these are the two most newbies think about getting.
But what’s the difference between the two and which one you should try to get? Let’s find that out.
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Technician vs. General – Which Ham Radio License To Get?
Ok, let’s start with the entry-level license for the Ham users. That’s the Technician class. As you can imagine, it is the entry point to your Ham radio use. Therefore no doubt, you will get fewer privileges with it than the other two.
Now, like all the others, you’ve got to sit for an exam. And obviously, pass it to get the license. Yes, if you want, you can take all the exams in one sitting. But not many do that as each exam comes with its set of questions.
Even though taking all of them will save you some bucks as you only pay for one exam. Yet, not many do that. That’s because not everyone requires those privileges of a general license or the extra one.
If you’re a newbie and just starting out, maybe the entry point technical license is all you need. To know whether it’s the right one for you or not, let’s take a look at the privileges it offers to the user.
Yes, as there are classes of licenses, there will be more benefits on the upper levels. Yet, many people never upgrade to the general category and remain happy with their Technician class.
The reason is, Techs can operate on popular bands like the others. You get the VHF and UHF band to use with your entry-level license. Maybe not the range you hope to get. Still, the 2-meter band for the VHF at 144-148 MHz and a 70-cm band at a 420-450 MHz frequency is quite good.
Using them, you can operate from a base or use it as a mobile device. Even if you can manage to cover a wide area, all you need is to use a repeater, and you will get the signal to go further distances.
Getting your hands on both the bands isn’t that bad of a deal.
Other than that, you can also operate on other bands like a 6 meter one, a 1.25 meter, and a 23 centimeter one in their respective frequency range. The magic 6-meter band even lets you go beyond your imagination and communicate with other hams in different states.
What more do you need?
Oh! Maybe you wanted to go beyond borders and reach other people using ham radios in other parts of the world. In that case, you’re in luck as using the magic band; you can operate on HF. It will allow you to go beyond the state and communicate with users from other countries.
But all that depends on the band and the propagation.
That’s not it, yet, though! You can operate on CW mode, which is the morse code mode. With that, you get the benefit of using radio teletype too. And if you can get the 10-meter band open, you can do a bunch of stuff while contacting people around the globe.
That’s why a technician class license is quite enough for some as they can get a lot out of it.
When you upgrade from the technician to the general license, you will get more benefits. For instance, you will have more bands to operate on and increased power, making distance communication much better than usual.
With the Tech level, you can operate the HF mode at 200 watts peak level, which might get your voice to the other parts of the world, but it won’t be that smooth of a communication. The General will upgrade that peak power to 1500 watts. That’s almost 7x times more transmission power, which will let you talk to people at a distance with ease.
Then there is the fact that you get more longwave bands to work with with the general class. You can use the 10HF bands with the technician class. But many restrictions don’t let you take the worldwide communication channel’s full advantage.
That will change with the general license as it will give you more modes to work with than the other one. Even for emergency communication, you need the privileges of the general class. For instance, if there is some disaster situation like an apocalypse, you can be sure that you will get the communication going on the HF without fail. Can’t say the same while using the Tech class license.
Not to forget, you get access to all amateur bands with it and many HF frequencies—not all, though.
However, to get all the privileges, you’ve got to take a different exam, which might be a bit more complicated than the entry-level one. You’ve got to prepare differently for that.
Which One Is For You?
It depends on what you want. If you’re not looking for a lot to do with the Ham radio and happy with just the VHF and UHF bands, go with the Technician class.
But if you want to contact other fellow Ham lovers around the world, go with the General class. It is worth it.
To sum up, the Ham radio Technician licenses vs. General licenses talk, I’ve got to say just one thing, it’s up to you. If you want to truly enjoy the Ham radio, go at the highest level that you can. Even if that’s the Extra level, then go for it. Do some work, prepare for the exam, and take it.
Just do whatever you feel like the best for you. It’s as simple as that.