2018 State Of The Hobby Survey Results Posted!


State Of The Hobby Results

The results are in!


About a month ago, I posted a blog post where I talked about a survey that was titled “2018 State of the Hobby Survey.” The author of the survey, did a survey last year, in 2017, and decided to do it again in 2018.

In the survey that he did in 2017, he only had 688 people respond and take the survey. This year, in 2018, he had a whopping 2919 people answer his survey from all across the globe. This is an increase of  324% over 2017. Of those nearly 3,000 responses that he got in this year’s survey only about 7% of those had taken the state of the hobby survey in 2017.

Here is a link to the results of the 2018 survey.

Who took the survey?



It is still not very surprising that the majority, over 50% of those that responded to the survey, are 55 years or older. With the largest portion of those that responded being 65 or older, nearly 30%. Those that were less than 45  years old made up less than 25%.

This again brings us back the question I have asked before: Is this hobby dying?

License Class

Also coming in at over 50% was the number of US Extras that responded in the survey coming in at 52% with technician only responding about 6%. This makes me wonder if those that whole technician licenses are not using their license or are using it for just a specific purpose and nothing else. I know there have been several people that I have licensed that only took their amateur radio test to get their license for storm spotting, or Disaster Response, or to participate in their youth group and that was all they were going to use it for.

So how do we get those technicians, if this is the case, to be more active in the hobby?

Family Members

Another question that was asked on the survey, talked about spouses and other family members if they had their license as well. Of the responses 12, almost 13% of those had a spouse that willingly participated. Over 75% said their spouse did not.

This has been something that I have been trying to accomplish for over eight years, but my wife continually refuses to even try to get her license. On the family member side of things though, I have a brother, my dad and stepmom are all licensed. How my dad talked my stepmom into getting her license, he still has not told me.

What About Participation?

When asked if the person taking the survey belong to a ham club or attended a hamfest or swap meet, predominately the answers were yes at better than 60% on both questions. The author of the survey then went on to ask it if that person had attended Dayton Hamvention or which is now Xenia,  and that question the answer was predominantly no.

The answer to the Hamvention question surprise the author of this but it really doesn’t surprise me.

Yes, the Dayton Hamvention is the largest convention in the US.

Sure, there’s a lot of stuff to do there.

Yes, it is a very long drive for the majority of people to go just for ham radio convention.

Do I want to go to Hamvention? Absolutely, at least once!

Will I ever get to go? Probably Not.

What Do People Do In The Hobby

When asked what area of radio do you enjoy the predominant answer was DXing followed by antenna construction and design, digital modes, HF Rag chewing and Local Comm Rag Chewing.The one thing that really surprised me in these results, was that antenna construction and design was the second highest response!


There is one thing that really surprised me on this survey. One of the questions the survey asks, What methods do you use to log contacts. Of those surveyed, 1231 people say that they log their contacts with Pen and Paper! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because it was the same last year. It probably surprised me just as much last year though.

How Did You Get Involved In The Hobby?

This question comes up quite a bit especially to new hams; people ask them how did they get their license or what brought them into the hobby. This question was asked in this survey as well and there was the typical answers, things like:

  • I’ve been interested in for a long time
  • My dad/grandpa was a ham
  • I got it through my local CERT team/Red Cross/etc
  • I used a CB or SWL
  • I got my license in school or boy/girl scouts

As I was reading through some of the answers this year, that the author posted, I definitely had to laugh at some of them.

  • For funsies
  • Was a pirate broadcaster in the 60’s
  • Because it’s magic
  • Spouse insisted I get a hobby to keep me out of her hair

Probably my favorite answer was:

I started dating a ham thru eHarmony and what’d ya know – I married him!

State Of The Hobby

To answer the main question of this survey, what is the health of the hobby or the state of the hobby

The majority of the people that responded to the survey feel that it is at a minimum, doing fair or well. Dustin also states that this margin seems to increase if the person that’s answering the survey is involved with at least one club. This makes me question though, does your perception of how the hobby is doing as an overall health also reflects on how the health of your local Club is.

If your club is lacking in participation or is “not healthy”, I think this will also reflect on your own personal perception of how the hobby as a whole is doing. Especially if there is only one club in your area.

Issues? What Issues?

When asked about issues facing the hobby the number one issue with the hobby was lack of interest and that is an overall issue and the largest perceived issue. Next up is poor operating etiquette, followed by HOAs, the high cost of equipment, and the lack of Elmer’s rounds out the top five.

I totally get the lack of Interest being the top answer when it comes to this Hobby. I know everybody at some point or another loses interest in a hobby,  whether it is amateur radio or race cars or whatever. The poor operating etiquette could possibly stem from two sources. First off the lack of training to get your license could potentially lead to this. but seconds comes with the number 5 on the list, lack of Elmer’s. I have always stated that we, as older hams, need to help those younger hams when they come into the hobby. you can’t just give them a test and expect them to know how to operate, what to do, or how to act while on the radio.

Spreading the Word

One of the things that really may be proud maybe, was two of the questions that basically asked whether people are spreading the word about amateur radio. The question read, In the past 12 months, have you encourage someone to obtain an amateur radio license? 79% of those that answer this question said yes, that they had. The next question that was asked was, Did they obtain a license. This one was broken up a little bit more into three answers that were basically split three ways whether they:

  1. Obtained their license
  2. Did not get their license
  3. Didn’t know.

So out of the nearly 3,000 people that took the survey,  34% of them didn’t know whether someone obtains their license that they encouraged to. That could potentially be another example of not being a good Elmer.

Wrapping it up

These are just some of the questions that were asked in a survey and my thoughts about them. Make sure that you check out the survey post by clicking here, to see all the other questions and the responses to those questions.

I would like to thank Dustin, N8RMA, for taking the time to gather all this data. Also for spending hours going through and correlating the information and writing a great blog post to go all over the results.

Awesome Job Dustin!

I hope that the 2019 survey is even bigger than this year was!

Until next time…

73 de Curtis, K5CLM

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