First Half of 2010 Sees Upswing in New Amateur Radio Licenses


With more than 18,000 new Amateur Radio licenses issued in the first half of this year -- 18, 270 to be exact -- 2010 is shaping up to be a banner year for Amateur Radio. So far, the number of new licenses issued by the FCC in 2010 is outpacing the January-June 2009 totals by almost 8.5 percent; at this time last year, the FCC had issued 16,844 new licenses.

In 2009, a total of 30,144 new licenses were granted, an increase of almost 7.5 percent from 2008. In 2005, 16,368 new hams joined Amateur Radio’s ranks -- just five years later, that number had increased by almost 14,000, a whopping 84 percent! The ARRL VEC is one of 14 VECs who administer Amateur Radio license exams.

Comparing 2010 to 2009, the only month that had higher license totals in 2009 was January: 1960 licenses were issued in January 2009, compared with 1726 in January 2010. Beginning in February, 2010 showed higher new license numbers: 2263 in February 2010 versus 2749 in February 2010; 3463 in March 2009 compared with 3734 in March 2010; 3430 in April 2009 compared with 3508 in April 2010; 2717 in May 2009 compared with 3136 in May 2010, and 3011 in June 2009 versus 3417 in June 2010.

As of June 30, 2010, there are 694,346 licensed Amateur Radio operators in the US, an almost 1 percent rise over all of 2009. In 2009, there were 682,500 licensed Amateur Radio operators in the US, an almost 3 percent rise over 2008. In 2008, there were 663,500 licensed amateurs; there were 655,800 in 2007. Broken down by license class at the end of June 2010, there were 16,299 Novices, 342,064 Technicians, 154,284 Generals, 60,059 Advanced and 121,640 Amateur Extra licensees.

“The ARRL VEC has been busy meeting the needs of the Amateur Radio community by helping people to become radio amateurs or upgrade their existing licenses,” said ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. “So far in 2010, ARRL VEs have administered 20,929 exam elements at 3600 ARRL VEC-sponsored exam sessions. The number of amateurs who want to be Volunteer Examiners and who want to teach Amateur Radio classes is also going up -- we’ve seen a spike in the number of applications from General and Extra class radio amateurs who want to give back to their community by serving as ARRL examiners and instructors.”