What Good is a Ham License? Plenty.

A ham radio license is more than a ticket to operate on the amateur radio bands. A couple of years ago, I was at a local chamber of commerce meeting and struck up a conversation with a guy who was in charge of engineering for a local high tech startup company. When he heard I was an amateur radio operator, he said, “I love to hire those guys because they really know how to do things.”

Also, as the contact person for our amateur radio club, I frequently get e-mails or phone calls from people looking for people with experience in RF or electronics. I have sometimes been able to connect them to members with the knowledge and skills they are looking for.

Here’s a similar story from Jim, AA2QA via the Ham Radio Help Group mailing list:

Hello gang,

I had to share some good news from here and also answer about ham radio. Many ask why the tests. We argue (not here, I hope LOL) as to how technical the exams are. Might I share some good news?

The purpose isn’t to prove you’re a phd in electronics or physics, obviously. It should be an entrance to provide encouragement in radio and experimenting. Hopefully, some youngsters may end up studying electronics or physics in college.

Myself, I did have some college. I also served an apprenticeship and was fat and happy for 25 years at one employer and achieved the highest technician rating available in a few areas. However, said employer shipped many divisions to China (mine included) and sold off
other divisions.

I did try and apply for work elsewhere, but in skilled trades, I found (at age 57) that I was competing with far younger folks and ones that were currently (or recently) in those fields. I’ve had a tough 4 years taking low-end jobs which, along with my pension, at
least allowed me to survive.

I was depressed and sought help. Fortunatly, as a veteran (Vietnam – 11 months of combat pay), the VA did help. They originally sent me for vocational rehabilitation.

When the guy at vocational rehab looked at my resume (and background, which included amateur extra, 1st class radiotelephone, and commercial telegraph ticket with radar endorsement), he asked if I had considered a local company. I hadn’t.

He referred me to an agency. I filled out an application and, attached to the application, was a test. Fill in the blank. They had simple schematic symbols and all you had to do was write in what they represented. There were chassis and earth grounds, crystal, caps, and many others. The “tough” ones (for folks that didn’t keep reading and studying) were the various insulated gate field-effect transistors. Depletion mode, enhancement mode, and n-channel and p-
channel types.

The guy called me back in and stated he hadn’t seen anyone score like I had. Most only got 5 or 6 correct answers. They forwarded the information to my current employer for an interview to see if I might obtain a contract position.

I interviewed with 4 different folks. At each interview, a schematic was produced and I answered several questions.

To make a long story short, I didn’t get hired contract; I was hired permanently as a direct employee! At more than twice what I have been making over the past 4 years.

For me, amateur radio has been an interesting hobby. A way to make friends (and I’m in contact with hams from the service), and an enjoyable way to learn.

No degree, yet amateur radio was the lifeline for me that will enable me to save more for retirement, get a bigger social security check, and *have a great time* all at the same time! I’ve been working for a week and it is *fun*!

So, if anyone wants to know why study or what good the ticket is, remember my story.

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