VEC and Youth Resources

Test Session Overview

This is a list of resources for people who would like to earn their amateur  radio license but will not be ready at this year’s Bay Area maker Faire.  We will provide mostly local resources as well as pointers to find other VE Sessions.

There are 3 classes of amateur radio license: Technician, General and Extra.  The class  allow licensees to transmit on specified types of signals on certain frequency bands.  The Technician Class has the most limited set of privileges, General Class has more and Extra has all of the privileges allowed to any Amateur Radio Operator.  Learning the details regarding is a major part of preparing for the license exam.
You must earn the licenses in the order of first Technician, then General and then Extra.  As soon as you have passed the exam for one license, it is possible to take the exam for the next class.  However not all exam sessions offer testing for all classes.  In practice, except for people with extensive experience in electronics, it is difficult to master all three classes at one time.  Many hams will choose to operate as a Technician Class for a while before deciding to advance to the General Class and Extra Class.
There are 3 types of sessions, license only, ham crams and full classes.

License only sessions expect you have already studied and are ready to take your exam. Some allow walk-ins some require appointments.

Hamcrams are one day classes that are mostly a memorization exercise.  The test is given at the end of the day.  The goal is to get the license done, then you are expected to read the full license manual to help you become a good Amateur Radio operator.  Because of the number of questions to learn,  you will find hamcrams offering materials for the Technician and General license classes but not the Extra license class.  Some allow walk-ins and some require appointments

Full classes require multiple sessions. Normally once a week for several weeks.  The Technician and General classes can be taught in 6-8 sessions, normally with the exam given at the last class. A Class for the Extra class license will probably another 3-4 weeks longer. Assume you will register ahead of time.

In the US there are 14 organizations the FCC has granted the privilege of offering exams.  These organizations are referred to as VECs, Volunteer Examiner Coordinators. VECs are allowed to grant groups around the US the privilege of offering exams representing their VEC organization.

The 2 largest VECs are the ARRL,, and the W5YI,

Local SF Bay Area License Events with a Regular Schedule

Sunnyvale VEC

  • Twice a month. 2nd Saturday in Sunnyvale, 3rd Saturday in Redwood City.
  • Redwood City Location: Redwood City Library, 1044 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City
  • Sunnyvale Location: Sunnyvale #1 City Park, 1150 Lime Dr, Sunnyvale
  • Affiliation Sunnyvale VEC

Silicon Valley VE Group

  • Location: Saratoga Firehouse, 14380 Saratoga Avenue, Saratoga
  • 1st and 3rd Saturday from 8AM until 10:30AM
  • Affiliation ARRL VEC

Tri-City VE Group

  • Hurricane Electric 48233 Warm Springs Boulevard, Fremont, CA
  • Alternates every other month.  A Tuesday evening, next month a Saturday morning, rinse repeat.
  • Affiliation ARRL VEC

Bay Area Educational Amateur Radio Society

  • Gives one day Ham Crams for Technician and General licenses.  4 – 5 times a year at various locations around the SF bay area.
  • Affiliation W5YI VEC

Finding Other Testing Resources

  • ARRL:
  • W5YI:
  • Other VECs FCC Amateur Radio Licensing Click on the “VECs” link on the left.


After the Test

Print an official copy of your license:

Check Your License Status:

Other Resources

Youth Nets:

Find a club:

SF Bay Area Clubs and Organizations

  • FARS:
  • PAARA:
  • SBARA:
  • SVECS:
  • SPECS:
  • NCDXC:
  • LPARC:
  • Blackberry React:
  • Coastside ARC:
  • SFARC:
  • West Valley ARC:
  • Electronics Flea market:
  • Bay Area Radio Builders Club:
  • Benicia Amateur Radio Club: