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Blog - Benefits of Upgrading

I would like to thank my Elmer, Jim Erickson, KB0DBJ, for presenting this topic on the YL NTX net. While I’m quite sure he’s trying to give me a gentle nudge in the direction of upgrading to General, this topic is a good one for anyone, male or female, experienced or inexperienced ham. Thanks, Jim. What follows next is a blend of his topic presentation and my thoughts on the matter. Take them or leave them, either way you get what you paid for them.


I can’t even begin to get into a topic about upgrading your license without a short paragraph (or three or four) on the benefits of pushing yourself. If you read the very first blog post, you know I’m a big proponent of expanding boundaries and pushing limits. Ham radio is an invaluable proving ground for overcoming fears and building confidence.

One of the things that bothers me the most about upgrading my license is the fear of failure. Well guess what? I cannot fail if I do not quit. Fear-based paralysis is dangerous, my friends. Ever seen a snake cue-in on a frozen mouse while scoping out the Nature Channel?? ‘Nuff said.

Success, on the other hand, is liberating. Facing things down, pushing past my fear, has been life-altering. Challenging myself, expanding boundaries, picking myself up and brushing myself off after I fell and then plucking up the courage to continue on have provided some valuable life-lessons for me.

If you’re turning your nose up at the idea of upgrading your license based on fear, I’m sure you can guess my thoughts. But I have a big mouth, so I’ll share them anyway. Push passed the fear, study hard and ask lots of questions if you don’t understand something. Your fellow hams are like the scouts. They *LIVE* to help others. There is a huge network of hams at your fingertips. Use them.

I shall now dismount from the soapbox I made by stacking my Tech Manual and General Manual together. What can I say? It’s a short soapbox.


Upgrading from Technician Class to General Class gives you the ability to get Volunteer Examiner accreditation to test Technicians. This means you can help test new hams and actually *be a part* of someone’s entry into Hamdom. How cool is that?

Additionally, your new General License provides you the ability to do third-party traffic on HF for Field Day. Which means you could run the GOTA Station (Get on the Air) during Field Day. Getting someone on the air for the first time is magical. Watching someone else push passed their fear is magical. Seeing the light in their eyes and hearing the excitement in their voice when someone answers their call is magical. Who doesn’t want to be part of Magical?

No one wants to admit it, but there is also some street credit that goes along with becoming a General, especially if you’re an elmer. Anyone who talks to you for more than two minutes will know pretty quickly whether or not you have a clue what you’re talking about. But again, bumping up the license level offers just a bit more street credit.

And last but not least, upgrading your license provides HF privileges on all bands. So, my question to the Elmer was, “Why do I care about HF? I already talk to plenty of people on my VHF/UHF station.”

His answer was, of course, in depth. But here’s the long and the short of it. With HF you can:

• Make worldwide friends
• Talk to friends and family outside VHF/UHF range
• Help with contests and Field Day
• Antennas are cheap and easy to build
• Coax is less lossy at higher frequencies
• Practice CW

I know, I know. You groaned as loud as I did when you heard “learn CW”, but apparently, CW is still the most efficient way to communicate, especially in emergencies. So learn it. (Physician, heal thyself.)


Upgrading to Extra from General provides expanded HF privileges, as well as the ability to get Volunteer Examiner accreditation to test all classes of hams. (Techs going to General, Generals going to Extra.) It’s also a prestige issue. No class of radio license claims as much respect as the Extra Class License. And for good reason. Extras are the cream of the crop. There’s a reason why people wish to be an Extra.

I hope this has inspired you enough to start studying. Or at the very least it’s inspired you to THINK about studying. As for me, I’ll promise to quit trying to read the General Manual through the bottoms of my feet.

I’ll leave you with this other bit of fluff Jim shared with us. Written by Paul M. Segal, W9EEA, in 1928, but still appropriate today. Maybe it’s not really a scout thing after all. Maybe it’s a Ham thing?

The Radio Amateur is:

CONSIDERATE… never knowingly operating in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

LOYAL… offering loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.

PROGRESSIVE… with knowledge abreast of science, a well built and efficient station, and operation beyond reproach.

FRIENDLY… with slow and patient operation when requested, friendly advice and counsel to the beginner, kindly assistance, co-operation and consideration for the interest of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.

BALANCED… Radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

PATRIOTIC… with station and skill always ready for service to country and community.

~73 Y’all