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Author Topic: How to advance after Extra  (Read 18338 times)

Posts: 2

« on: December 18, 2012, 10:46:40 AM »

Well, I started out by getting tech, then general, then extra. I seem to have run out of things to advance to.
I am a minor, and can not afford much equipment, so I spent most of the time in the hobby studying. I would like to continue
this pattern, and see how much spectrum freedom I can get under my belt. Are there any other licenses out there that would require me to increase my knowledge to get, and come with more privileges (Without costing hundreds of dollars)?

-Second question
If I wished to enter a radio oriented field when I was older how would it be best to precede (Not something like working in a HAM shop)?

Thanks! best wishes to you all.

Posts: 25


« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2012, 09:14:38 PM »

You may have maxed out at the available license classes, but I'll bet you've hardly scratched the surface of what this hobby has to offer.

I would suggest that you explore the different aspects of the hobby. Find out what you like and what you don't. There are many modes to try and groups out there to support those different modes.  I've been enjoying PSK31 for the last few months.  A fellow Ham enjoys JT65. I have a list of things I want to do and find there just isn't enought time in the day.

You might also check into some local clubs and see what's going on. Find some people who share your common interests.

There are commercial FCC certifications you can go for, but if I can offer one piece of advice it would be that certificates on the wall do nothing without experience under the belt. I see this all the time in the IT field. I interview people who have various Ciaco certs but have never physically touched the hardware.  Your ham hobby and the experiences you gain could very well lead you into a career in the radio field if that's where you want to go.

Good luck and enjoy the ride!

Posts: 3018

« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2012, 07:39:41 PM »

Your name alone will open doors for you... Harpo.  Smiley

Goofy YT tech videos will open more:

Exactly how old are you? What are your college plans? My son, a technician class ham, is going for a major upgrade, a BSEE degree. There's plenty of scholarship money available for engineering students. The ARRL has some scholarship money too.

Want to get on the air in style? There's a huge Yagi up 120' atop the IMU building there in Bloomington. Stop by the radio room and say hi.

« Last Edit: December 19, 2012, 07:55:16 PM by K0OD » Logged

Posts: 0

« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2012, 04:24:44 AM »

Taking the tests is only the beginning!  From here you need to operate, build and explore to really advance.  I'm an Extra Class Ham, you know what?  Big deal!  There is still so much for me to learn every day.  Oh and it's a lot more fun than taking a test!

So build and install an antenna, build a circuit (start out small), operate in a contest (listen first to see how it's done of course), explore a new mode.  You'll find you never run out of ways to advance as you gain a better understanding of how it all works.

If you're just looking for paper to hang on the wall you've missed the point!

73, and good luck!

Mike W4DXL

Posts: 6252

« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2012, 01:40:28 PM »

Sure there is.  There are all kinds of certifications and licenses for the radio field that you can go after.  Radar operator, broadcast engineer, RF engineer, and so on, and that only scratches the surface.  How about studying and getting your RF engineering masters? 

In short, don't just think licenses and certifications, think all inclusive--ANY field of endeavor where RF technology is applied.

Posts: 14491

« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2012, 02:46:41 PM »

These days, the "paper" is required to get you in the door. Once you are there, knowledge and experience will keep you there.

Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA

Posts: 268

« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2012, 07:28:59 AM »

Read QST every month.  Are you in high school?  Take calculus and AP physics.  Pursue an engineering major in college.

Neil N3DF

Posts: 53

« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2012, 11:30:55 PM »

The next step above Amateur Extra might be to study for the FCC commercial radio license.  Previously known as the FCC "First Class" and "Second Class" licenses, the current name is "General Radiotelephone Operator License (GROL).  Many employers require the GROL with a RADAR endorsement, and the Marine Radio Operator Permit (MROP) for jobs in marine, aero, safety and municipal positions.  The W5YI Group publishes a study manual for the GROL license.  The book is often listed in the same ads as the Gordon West (WB6NOA) study manuals for Amateur Radio.  Check your local public library for a copy; I found a copy in my hometown library.  Just ensure it is a current copy so you are working with the most up to date material in case you decide to take the actual exam.  The GROL would be the next logical step after Amateur Extra if you are considering a career in radio electronics.

Posts: 343

« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2012, 10:07:52 AM »

If you are interested in engineering or technical work in radio or television broadcasting check out the various certifications available from the Society of Broadcast Engineers

73 Mike

Posts: 25

« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2012, 07:39:15 PM »

It's great that you want a career in the RF communications field. There are so few people left anymore who have a good background in radio frequency knowledge, you will do well..

Not sure how old you are, but in high school you should be taking higher math and physics. If your school offers classes in electricity and/or electronics take those classes. Also, if there are classes in computers, programming, or networking take those too. (Most radio equipment today is a computer wrapped in RF devices)

In college, go for a Bachelor's in electrical engineering degree, if you can find a college that specializes in communications, all the  better.
If you can't do a four year school right after HS, go to a community college for electronincs technology and/or engineering and get your 2-year Associates Degree (I got one in Electronics in 1977, and it's served me very well since then - low cost, high reward) Later, you could go for a 4 year degree as time / money / desire become available.

Also, and I can't stress this enough, make sure you are learning computers, networking, and digital technologies in college. If you can find Cisco networking classes, definitely take those. Search Cisco Network Academy, and CCNA, CCNP. Most Radio communications systems are interlinked via IP networks. They are all controlled via computers, sometimes very sophisticated servers.

As far as more challenges in ham radio go, you don't necessarily need to spend a ton of money.. For example, somebody above mentioned digital modes - an excellent idea, this IS the future. Most of the software is freeware, and you can use a hand-me-down computer to run them on. Building your own antennas will teach you a lot. There are many other ideas that you will hear of as time goes on.

By the way, NICE JOB on getting your Extra! That's quite an accomplishment, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
You seem to have smarts and dedication. You will go far in life and in ham radio. I hope to work you on the air someday.

Bill AB9TA

Posts: 2568

« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2012, 07:41:46 AM »

There are a couple of questions there. Available spectrum to use;
Apply for a GMRS license. This will give you access to that block of UHF frequencies that are commonly paired up with FRS.
Get yourself on the VHF MURS frequencies (no license, in the 150 MHz band).

To advance your skills;
Apply what you have access to right now. Try different modes.
Homebrew some antennas, receivers and transmitters
Take up restoration of old gear. This gives you advantage of learning different design approaches and "what happens if I do "this"".
Learn how to use NEC, propagation software, link budgets (some of these are free software packages)

When you move onto higher schooling;
Definitely at the very least a technical/ vocational school for electronics
Ideally something like an electrical engineering degree, learn the hard stuff like RF. Most EE's hate it, they think of RF like black magic.

As an EE who specializes in RF, propagation and the "ikky" stuff I have an unprecedented amount of freedom. Even working for an engineering company you are often left to your own devices as it is a specialty that other engineers think of as weird. You do need to have a better working practice with some mathematics and it really helps if you can visualize some of the things that are going on in the RF world with antenna patterns, Fresnel zones, refraction, standing waves and reflected power.

Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
Free space loss (dB) = 32.4 + 20 × log10d + 20 × log10 f

Posts: 7718

« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2013, 03:24:56 PM »

The Commercial Radio Telephone license is a HUGE step up from the amateur extra class. Purchase the study material, learn it, and take the test.

Posts: 159

« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2013, 06:53:28 AM »

The GROL would be your next step. It's a lifetime license that doesn't need renewal - very cost effective. Not an easy test and not many make it on the first attempt. My first job after college paid an extra buck an hour if you passed the GROL - I didn't pass on the first attempt, (I wasn't used to failure). I remember being the last one in the room and feeling pretty stupid, since everyone else had finished up so quickly. This was hard stuff! I used the max time and gave it my best shot. The tester said I almost passed and came in the highest score of the group. The others didn't finish quickly - they'd given up! I studied up for a few years and the second go around squeaked by.

I got a new radio job where all the employees were ham guys and I wasn't licensed - talk about being the odd one out! I think it took me about 4 minutes to pass the tech class test. Passing the GROL is a great study aid for amateur license prep. Just the act of studying for the GROL is a great way to kind of round out your experience - any area you're weak in will show up and show you where to focus.

Just working on being a better operator now - can't study for that, you have to practice.
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