The ARRL VEC: More than Just Amateur Radio Exams
When you think of ARRL's Volunteer Examiner Coordinator Department (VEC), Amateur Radio licensing exams are probably what come to mind. The ARRL VEC handles questions regarding exam requirements, exam accommodations, exam test locations, exam question pools and Volunteer Examiner support. According to ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, the ARRL VEC has been busy meeting the needs of the Amateur Radio community since 1984. "Helping a person become a radio amateur or upgrade their existing license is what we do best, but that's not all we do," Somma said.
"We provide instruction and support for everyone who wants to get an Amateur Radio license, as well as licensing assistance and procedures for those amateurs seeking upgrades to their current license, regardless of where in the US they may live; some sessions are also provided overseas," Somma explained. "Volunteer Examiners are accredited by the ARRL/VEC; they obtain their training -- and receive ongoing guidance -- from our office by phone or e-mail. They can also access our online VE Manual, which is also available for purchase."
Somma said that the ARRL's VEC Department is also a primary provider for club license questions and applications (club call signs) and vanity call signs. "We only serve in an advisory capacity in this activity, as application must be made (with their appropriate fee) directly to the FCC," she said. "We also handle the 1×1 Special Event call signs, International Amateur Radio Permits (IARP) and ARRL member (or non-member with accompanying fee) FCC license updates and renewals."
Since the VE program began in 1984, the ARRL VEC has accredited more than 50,000 Volunteer Examiners. "These VEs have conducted more than 90,000 test sessions," Somma said. "At these sessions, more than 850,000 individuals have taken examinations to earn a license or to upgrade their license privileges. And out of those, 400,000 have had their successful applications submitted to the FCC for new and higher class licenses. Today, the ARRL VEC is the largest of the USA's 14 VECs, representing nearly 70 percent of all exams given."
Somma credits her "skilled and friendly staff" with the success of the League's VEC Department: Assistant VEC Manager Perry Green, WY1O; Pete Warner, K1HJW; Ann Brinius; Lisa Riendeau; Amanda Grimaldi, and China Chaney.
"The ARRL VEC has more than 20 years of service to radio amateurs, operating as a knowledgeable information source for a wide-range of licensing issues," Somma said. "Look beyond the exams -- we're here to help!"