General radiotelephone operator license

General radiotelephone operator license

The General Radiotelephone Operator License, or GROL, is a commercial license, as opposed to an amateur radio license. It allows the holder to operate, maintain or install certain classes of United States licensed radio and television transmitters under authority of the Federal Communications Commission. []

Specifically, the FCC GROL is required to operate or work on any maritime land radio station or compulsorily equipped ship radiotelephone station operating with more than 1500 watts of peak envelope power and any voluntarily equipped ship and aeronautical (including aircraft) stations with more than 1000 watts of peak envelope power. They are also required for international broadcast stations, such as the Voice of America.

The license also conveys all of the operating authority of the Marine Radio Operator Permit. This is required to operate or work on radiotelephone stations aboard vessels weighing more than 300 gross tons, that carry more than six passengers for hire in the open sea or any coastal/tidewater area of the United States, aboard certain vessels that sail the Great Lakes, and to operate and repair certain aviation radiotelephone stations and certain coast radiotelephone stations.

GROL does not confer licensing authority to operate or maintain GMDSS or radiotelegraph (Morse Code) commercial stations. These, however, are more specialized transmitters. Because of its wider nature the GROL is the most popular FCC commercial license, accounting for about 80% of those issued by the Commission.

The GROL Permits are issued for the holder's lifetime.

A license that can be added to the GROL (as well as the GMDSS maintainer and the radiotelegraph licenses) is "Ship Radar Endorsement." This allows the holder to install, service, and maintain Radar systems on board vessels.


Historically, the first operator licenses were issued by the Federal Radio Commission under the authority of the Radio Act of 1927. When the FCC was created in 1934 it took over this function. The Commission issued First and Second Class Radiotelephone Operator Licenses. In 1953 a Third Class permit was added.

As they developed after World War II, the "First Phone" was required to be chief engineer at a broadcast station, and to work on television transmitters. The "Second Phone" was often held by radio transmitter repair persons, such as in the aviation and maritime industries. The Third Class permit had little use except for announcers who had to record meter readings and who operated from low power radio broadcast stations. Obtaining any of these simply required passing written examinations, with the Second (because it included the entire field of electronics transmission) more difficult than the First, which concentrated on television. The Third just required a knowledge of broadcast rules.

From 1963 to 1978 an additional (easy) technical written test added a "Broadcast Endorsement" to the "Third Phone". This allowed announcers to be the sole operators at some limited power radio stations.

As technology rapidly changed transmitters required less skill to manage. In the spirit of deregulation the FCC yield progressively more of its control over broadcasters, and eased licensing requirements. In 1980 the Third Phone was abolished followed in 1985 by the First. All existing First and Second Class licensees were issued a new lifetime certificate, the GROL, in diploma form. []

Qualifying for the GROL License


To qualify for the GROL, you must:

  • Be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States.
  • Be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English.
  • Pass Elements 1, and 3 written exams.

How to Obtain a License:

To obtain a GROL License one must submit to the FCC, Form 605 and Form 159 with Proof of Passing Certificates for Elements 1 and 3.

All exam questions are mulltiple-choice.

Element 1 -Marine Radio Operator Permit (MROP)

  • Basic radio law and operating practice.

Marine Radio Operator Permit question pool: 170 questions.
To pass you must answer 18 of 24 questions.(75%)

Element 3 - General Radiotelephone License

  • Electronic fundamentals and techniques required to adjust, repair, and maintain radio transmitters and receivers.

Element 3 exam consists of questions in the following categories:

  • Operating Procedures -3 questions.
  • Radio Wave Propagation - 3 questions
  • Radio Practice - 6 questions
  • Electrical Principles - 17 questions
  • Circuit Components - 10 questions
  • Practical Circuits - 17 questions
  • Signals and Emissions - 10 questions
  • Antennas and Feed Lines - 10 questions
General Radiotelephone Operator License question pool: 916 questions.
To pass you must answer 57 out of 76 questions.(75%)

hip Radar Endorsement

Ship Radar Endorsement is required to repair, maintain, or internally adjust ship radar equipment.

To qualify, you must:

  • Hold or qualify for a GROL, or GMDSS Radio Maintainer's License,or First Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate, or Second Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate
  • Pass Element 8 written exam.

Element 8 - Ship Radar Endorsement

  • Ship Radar Techniques. Specialized theory and practice applicable to the proper installation, servicing, and maintenance of ship radar equipment in general use for marine navigation purposes.
Ship Radar Endorsement question pool: 321 questions.
To pass you must answer 38 out of 50 questions.(76%)

tudy Preparation

tudy Materials

Things you will need to prepare for the GROL License are.

A good book to study for the GROL License:

GROL Plus: General Radiotelephone Operator License Plus Radar Endorsement by Gordon West, Fred Maia, Gerald Luecke

The GROL Plus seems to be the book; most people like to use to preparefor the exams.


[ FCC Examination Question Pools Downloads]

cientific Calculator

You also will need a scientific calculator. Not a programmable one. A programmable calculator is not allowed to be used during the exams.

Preparation Software

Seeing how many questions there are in the question pools, you might wantto use a software program to help prepare for the GROL exams.

Often times, exam questions are worded in ways that fool you.
By using good preparation software, you should not be thrown by them.

Some preparation software, will drill you on the questions you have missed.

They can also create a practice test; which represents what you would be given in a real exam.

By using the practice test, you will know; if you are prepared enough for the exams.

If you find you are not quite prepared for the exams; take the missed questions, and try the practice test again; until you are prepared for the exams.
GROL Preparation Software:
[ RadioTelephone Tutor]
[ Free on-line GROL Quiz Tutor]
[ Free GROL Quiz]

Commercial Operator License Examination Managers

The actual examinations are given by Commercial Operator License Examination managers, (COLE) and fees typically range around $25-35 per element.

Commercial Operator License Examination (COLE) Managers:
[ Elkins Institute]

ee also

*Electronics Technicians Association
*Radio horizon

External links

* [ FCC - General Radiotelephone Operator License (PG)] FCC
* [ FCC - Ship Radar Endorsement] FCC
* [ FCC - Commercial Operator Licenses: Examinations] FCC
* [ FCC Examination Question Pools Downloads]
* [ COLE Managers: Elkins Institute] Preparation Software
* [ RadioTelephone Tutor]

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