A radio amateur, amateur operator, "ham radio" operator, most often referred to as a "ham" is a person licensed to operate in the amateur service, a radio service which allows people throughout the world to communicate to each other. Most countries allow amateur operations and allow for licensing of ham stations through an examination process, however, countries can specify that their radio amateurs not communicate with those of another, amateur operations can be suspended by executive order in the United States (as was the case during World War II), and third-party communications such as "phone patches" usually require the first two parties to be operating from countries with an appropriate treaty in effect. This hobby, one of the few actually regulated by Federal or equivalent level government has existed since the early years of the radio art. Today, the hobby has much use in times of emergency, and many who are licensed use it daily to communicate with friends and loved ones who also possess licenses. Two or more hams in the same family is fairly commonplace today. To obtain an amateur license in the United States, you must be qualified per FCC regs and take an examination(s). You may check with a Volunteer Exam Coordinator or VEC for additional information on this. There are currently over a dozen accredited VEC's in the U.S., and each will gladly supply you with additional information. The FCC has a complete list of all VEC's on their site through this link.

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