The Technician class license is the entry-level licence of choice for most new ham radio operators. To earn the Technician licence requires passing one examination totaling 35 questions on radio theory, regulations and operating practices. The licence gives access to all Amateur Radio frequencies above 30 megahertz, allowing these licencees the ability to communicate locally and most often within North America. It also allows for some limited privileges on the HF (also called "short wave") bands used for international communications.
The General class licence grants some operating privileges on all Amateur Radio bands and all operating modes. This licence opens the door to world-wide communications. Earning the General class licence requires passing a 35 question examination. General class licencees must also have passed the Technician written examination.
The Amateur Extra class licence conveys all available U.S. Amateur Radio operating privileges on all bands and all modes. Earning the license is more difficult; it requires passing a thorough 50 question examination. Extra class licencees must also have passed all previous licence class written examinations.