Last year — 2016 — was another outstanding one for Amateur Radio licensing. So says ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM.
“New Amateur Radio licenses issued were up by 1% over 2015, and this is the third year in a row that the total number of new licenses has exceeded 30,000,” Somma reported. She said 32,552 were granted in 2016, 32,077 in 2015, and 33,241 in 2014.
Somma said that while 2014 was a record-setting year for new licenses issued, ARRL VEC “continues to see an elevated interest in obtaining an Amateur Radio license.”
The overall trend continues to be up, up, up! The total number of US Amateur Radio licensees has continued to grow each year since the FCC eliminated the Morse code exam requirement in 2007. Over the past decade, the net number of Amateur Radio licensees has risen by nearly 87,000, according to statistics compiled by Joe Speroni, AH0A.
As of December 31, 2016, the total number of licensees in the FCC database was 742,787, topping the 2015 total of 735,405, but down just slightly from the all-time high of 743,003 reached last November.
Somma said license upgrades were down by 5% compared to 2015 — 10,617 versus 11,224. “A new Amateur Extra class pool took effect on July 1, 2016, which may have impacted upgrade totals in the second half of the year,” she speculated.
As of December 31, according to figures compiled by Speroni, there were 143,337 Amateur Extra licensees, 45, 071 Advanced licensees, 172,807 General licensees, 371,560 Technician licensees, and 10,012 Novice licensees. The FCC no longer issues Advanced and Novice class licenses. The General and Technician licensee totals at the end of last year were all-time highs, and the Amateur Extra total was nearly so.