Before you are allowed to use and operate a HAM radio you must first take a test and get a license from the FCC (if you are in the United States).
I have tried to get licensed many times before, but was never able to follow through and go take the test. The breakthrough for me was listening to the audiobooks during my commute and finding a test session I was going to attend no matter what. I also took many, many practice tests when I got close to completing the audiobook until I could pass every time. I was always afraid of going to a test and not passing, but taking so many practice tests helped build my confidence that I knew the material.