Ham radio is a hobby that has been popular for decades. Ham operators use ham radios to communicate with other ham operators and talk to people in other countries! Ham radio can be used in disaster situations when there is no cell phone service or internet connection available. But who is a typical ham operator? what is the average age of the ham radio users? what is the tendency of its changing?
What is a Ham Radio?
Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is the use of radio frequency spectrum to send information through the air for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation, radiosport, contesting, and emergency communication.
Ham radios allow people to stay in touch during emergencies or natural disasters when other forms of communication may be unavailable or compromised. Ham radios also allow for the exchange of information within certain areas where cell service is not available: rural locations, oil rigs and even ships at sea.
Types of US Ham Radio Licenses
Ham radio operators must obtain a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to legally operate their station. The license classes are distinguished by increasing levels of knowledge and authority. The details of the classes have evolved drastically over time, resulting in the current system of three open classes.
- The entry-level license, known as Technician Class, grants complete operating rights on all amateur bands above 30MHz and restricted access in specific sections of the high frequency (HF) bands.
- General class licenses are permitted access to parts of all amateur bands, with over 83 % of all amateur HF bandwidth accessible. However, some band segments that are commonly employed for long-distance communications are not included.
- The highest level of amateur radio license in the United States is Amateur Extra Class. This license includes the same tests as General, as well as a 50-question multiple-choice theory exam. All rights on all US amateur bands are available to Amateur Extra holders.
Factors that Matter to Become a Ham Radio Operator
- It’s seen that licensing and passing the exams aren’t possible without having tecnical skills in the area. Becoming ham radio operator requires a person has good tecnical skills and education. Ham radio users are mostly middle-aged men, who have a great knowledge about tecnology and enjoy using it in their spare time.
- Ham radio does need a lot of free time. Ham radio operators must be able to dedicate a lot of time and effort towards Ham radio. Ham radio users are mostly older men who are retired at once.
- Amateur radio can be a very expensive hobby while it needs initial equipments to stert. Even if you get the cheap Chinese radios for $30-$40, you still need spending $300 fo good antenna to get any long range use from it.
US Official Data on the Average Age of Ham Radio Operators
Ham radio operators can come from all ages, but it depends on how young they started playing around with ham radios when they were kids or teenagers. And what does not change in ham hadio community? The average age of ham users! It seems that there is no significant progress in reducing the age of ham users over time, since WWII days.
The age range of ham radio users varies according to different countries and even regions inside each country. According Howard Michel, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL, the national association for amateur radio) CEO in his Second Century editorial in QST May 2019:
- Average ARRL Member is 68 years old. 54% are Extra Class, 31% General Class.
- Average Nonmember is 52 years old. 75% are Technician Class, 18% General, 7% Extra.
Another unofficial results are presented at https://sway.office.com/2yk77tTg6qsyIfIo?ref=email The diagramm below showes not average but the distribution of the age’s group of ham operators all over the world. If the one takes its mediana, the data will be sad as well.
The reporters and radio enthusiasts argued that these data includes thousands of ham operators who were just checking a box for the “go bag” for their prepper club, hams that lost interest and never use a radio, etc. And there also exist a big class of ham radio users which is called “ham radio wives”, the term has come to mean any female spouse of an amateur radio operator, licensed or not. Thus, the real average age of ham operators can vary significantly from the official data.
The Uncertain Future of Ham Radio
As more people start to embrace the digital age, it’s important to know that there are still plenty of people who prefer analog communication. The sad news is that amateur radio demographics tend to skew towards the older, since the baby boomers and up who were retired last years began actively to run ham radio as their hobby.
The high average age of a ham operators is a significant consequence of major problem of dying the ham radio in general. Amateur radio faces too many challenges in our high-tech era, the question of how it will be going is considered uncertain even among experts. Still, ham radio remains a good mean to connect with other people. Ham radio operators all over the world, despite their age, remain very socially envolved and have strong tendency toward volunteering of the different kinds.
It may be too early to say what will happen to the amauter radio in the future, but it’s always good to have an open mind about things! Happy hamming!