There are some who say that getting a ham license puts you on “a list” with “the government”, and I say “So what?” The only thing that getting a ham license will have an effect on is that it will slightly increase your chances of getting a job in the electronics industry. As Titor said, “The enemy will be those detaining and holding people without due process.” Should this ever come to pass, we will be in the middle of a civil war and will have to act accordingly – therefore you will need to prepare accordingly. You need to practice getting your communications systems up and working in all sorts of conditions. While bootlegging may be good if The End Times ever occurs, at present it is a good way to get yourself negative attention, especially on the ham bands. Some argue that privacy on the ham bands is non-existent. They’re right, it is. However, you’re not using it for privacy when you are learning how to set up communications links. Since you should be meeting your friends face-to-face on a regular basis, and have access to PGP and email, you’ll already have a means of privately communicating. The radio is for when all that stuff stops working, and during The End Times certain verboten things become acceptable. Despite the relative simplicity of the license tests, radio communications and ham radio is a fairly complex field.
The best source of information for getting your amateur radio license comes from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL – http://www.arrl.org/). Their website is goldmine of information for anyone interested in getting their ham ticket. The license structure has changed significantly since I was first licensed over twenty years ago. Proficiency in Morse code (CW) is no longer required for any class of license, and there are only three classes of license: Technician, General, and Extra. The entry-level Technician class offers all VHF, UHF, and microwave ham band operating privileges. The next level is General class, and offers the majority of shortwave (HF) bands. Extra class is the highest level, and offers the remaining portions of the HF bands not open to General class. The pool of test questions for each class is published and available online. If your recall is good enough, you can simply memorize the test pool questions for all three tests and walk away from having no ham license to an Extra in a single sitting. Most people however require a few weeks of studying per test. In my wife’s case, she took a week of studying to pass the Technician class, and three weeks after that for her General.