Traditionally, amateur radio operators were issued two separate authorizations; an Amateur Radio Operator Certificate and a radio station licence. The Amateur Radio Operator Certificate was issued for life and had no fee associated with it, while the radio station licence was issued on a yearly basis and a licence renewal fee was charged. Amateur First Grade required an essay-type examination and five (later ten) words per minute code examination before a Radio Inspector at one of the Department's field offices. This class of license was renamed Amateur Class in 1927 and then Amateur First Class in 1932. Amateur Radio licensing in the United States began in mid-December 1912.
Three types of licenses for ham radio operators are being granted today: Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. By taking progressively more challenging exams, you gain access to more frequencies and operating privileges. After you pass a specific test level, called an element, you have permanent credit for it as long as you keep your license [ ]. Most new amateur radio operators start at the Technician Class and then may advance to the General Class or Amateur Extra Class. The VEs give examination credit for the license class currently held so that examinations required for that license class need not be repeated.
Amateur Radio is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Communications Act of 1934. It is also subject to numerous international agreements. All Amateur Radio operators must be licensed. In the U.S., there are three license classes. The higher the class of license, the more frequencies are available. The origins of amateur radio can be traced to the late 19th century, but amateur radio as practiced today began in the early 20th century. The First Annual Official Wireless Blue Book of the Wireless Association of America, produced in 1909, contains a list of amateur radio stations. This radio callbook lists wireless telegraph stations in Canada and the United States, including 89 amateur.