The FCC GROL License
Just when you thought you had all the acronyms figured out, here comes another one. The FCC license called GROL, or General Radio Operators License. Well actually this license didnt just show up, it has been here for awhile, something like the 1950s.
What is the GROL FCC License?
In general terms, the general radio operators license allows you to operate a radio station with a wattage of more than 1500 total watts. Ok, I know what your thinking, what does this have to do with aircraft maintenance? The GROL FCC license also allows you to perform maintenance on various radios, this includes aviation radios. The license also allows you to supervise unlicensed avionic technicians make repairs to the radios and communication equipment.
Now do you see where I am going with this?
Many avionic repair shops perform maintenance that is covered under the FCC regulations. So qualified technicians are required for this type of work. This kind of work is typically a repair facility doing bench work.
Performing regular maintenance on an aircraft, such as removing and installing a radio into an aircraft does not require the FCC license. Performing maintenance on the actual radio however, may in fact require the FCC certification.
The FCC license is good for life, so there is no retesting a few years later on. Once you get it, you are good to go.
Why Get the GROL?
As the reasons I stated above, many avionic jobs will request technicians to have this certification. You will see it in jobs postings. Applying for those jobs without the license may be setting yourself up for failure. Not only that, larger companies will pay a premium hourly wage for each certification you hold. It might be an extra $.50 or a dollar an hour, something like that. So in the long run, it pays to have more certifications under your belt.
The best part about the FCC license is that you do not need to meet any experience requirements. That means you can take the tests today and get certified. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of while still in A&P school.
This can be particularly useful if you are not yet sure what type of job you will be getting, and lets face it, most of us starting out, will take whatever aviation maintenance related job we can. The FCC license helps you to be qualified for more more.
Most of the people that I know who work in the avionics business have the FCC license. As a friend of mine were discussing the FCC license certification, we both found it kind of funny that most of the work, and in some cases, all of the work performed by an avionics tech does not fall under the FCC rules, yet companies still ask technicians to get the license. I’m not sure if it is a tool that companies use to weed out job applicants or if companies would just rather be safer than sorry when dealing with the federal government agencies, FCC and the FAA. In either case, it has become an industry standard for avionic folks around the world.
How Do You Get The FCC license?
Easy, just take the tests! The tests are actually 2 parts. You need to pass the multiple choice tests called element 1 and element 3.
Other requirements for the license are;
- Be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States.
- Be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English.
- Submit to the FCC, Form 605 and Form 159 with Proof of Passing Certificates for Elements 1 and 3.
Element 1 has is 24 questions of a pool of 144, you must answer 18 correct to pass.
Element 3 has 100 questions of a pool of 600, you must answer 75 correct to pass.
Test Prep Courses
If you are serious about the FCC license, taking a test prep course is the only real way to go. These courses are designed to make you pass the first time. Courses are a great investment since there is a much higher chance of actually taking the tests and passing.
Some part 147 aviation mechanic schools will offer a avionics course which prepares students for the FCC GROL tests. Often time these courses are very expensive and not always worth the high costs, especially when the tests can be studied for using much more economic means such as FCC exam prep courses.
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