BE Informed No. 2.16
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Can I Accept Pay
Working as a VE?
John B. Johnston W3BE
Can I accept pay for working as a member of a Section 97.509 VE team?
A. You are not expected
to accept pay simply because volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial gain. Volunteering is also renowned for skill development,
and is often intended to promote goodness or to improve human quality of life. Volunteering may have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served. Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. Your reward is supposed to be in the knowledge that you are helping strengthen and preserve the legitimacy
of our amateur radio service in a very direct and meaningful way.
Section 97.527, however, says: VEs and VECs may be reimbursed by examinees for out-of-pocket expenses incurred in preparing, processing,
administering, or coordinating an examination for an amateur operator license. You should discuss with your VE team any
reimbursement claim that you would have so that they can be prepared to factor that into setting the examination fee and in
deciding whether or not to accept your services. Some VEs and VECs refuse to accept any fee.
Q. Do the VEC staff employees have to be hams?
A. That depends upon the particular VEC’s employment practices.
Any Section 97.3(a)(1) amateur operator accepting compensation, however, would lose status as a bona fide Section 97.3(a)(4) amateur, i.e., a duly authorized person interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.
Q. If the VECs are allowed to consider
their support staff as paid employees remunerated from the Section 97.525 reimbursement fees, then the support specialists
aiding our Section 97.509 VE team should likewise be paid for services rendered.
A. Section 97.525 simply says: VEs and VECs may be reimbursed by examinees for out-of-pocket expenses incurred in preparing, processing,
administering, or coordinating an examination for an amateur operator license. If support services are deemed as reimbursable
out-of-pocket expenses, your point is well taken.
Q. I paid the VEs $15.00 for my license exam. Who got my money?
A. That depends upon which of our 14 VECs coordinated the session at which you were examined. You can rule out our Laurel Amateur Radio Club-VEC because it is only one that has never charged any examinee for anything ever since the 1984 startup of our volunteer examiner
system. Neither have its accredited VEs. They consider themselves to be true volunteers.
Q. But the LARC-VEC has a reputation for the quickest turnaround following
the administration of an exam. Oftentimes new/upgrade license grants appear on the FCC’s ULS the very same or next day! How can the LARC-VEC provide superior service gratis while the charging VECs are slower?
A. Dedication, great leadership, and enthusiasm
are the keys. From the outset, LARC-VEC has consistently embraced the notion of indisputably uncompensated amateur service
volunteerism. Furthermore, its no-budget strategy automatically precludes frivolous spending. The parent Club underwrites
the small annual overhead – usually less than $100.00 - that is expended by its numerous teams.
Cheaters beware! LARC-VEC VEs are accredited prudently
and trained very carefully. They know each other and they know exactly what they are doing. They do not abide cheaters.
Other VECs choose to hire, pay, and manage
centralized staff professionals to perform their coordinating and processing work. Hence, there are wide variations in cost
and performance amongst them.
How much of my money went to the FCC?
Zero. Na-Da. Zilch.
Q. How much
went to the VEs? How much to the VECs?
You will have to obtain that information from them. Some of the VECs seem to always show up at the very head of the payout
line. Whatever is left over – if there is any – sometimes may go to the VEs that you observed doing the actual
grunt work of preparing and administering your antiquated pencil-to-paper examination.
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July 5, 2016
Supersedes all prior versions