I am licensed. A couple thoughts:
- If you're going to do it, study for both your first two tests. Tech licenses are fine, bug you can't operate much on the HF frequencies. Your General license (the second one), opens up >80% of the band to you. It's worth it.
- Buy a Baofeng, but know that you're buying disposable Chinese trash. Better yet, don't buy a Baofeng and get something worthwhile. Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu are your best bets. Your first radio you buy won't be your last.
- DO NOT operate without a license. You will be found, turned in, and fined, and it won't be the government that finds you and turns you in. Old timer HAM operators are fiercely protective of the spectrum, and they have means of locating your signal. We have to police and defend our spectrum on our own; it's part of our agreement with the government that allows us to hold this multi-billion dollar piece of radio frequency real estate.
- The tests are not hard, and they will not prepare you to operate. Take a bunch of practice tests, read a couple books, and then find a testing site and date. After you pass (or even before), find a local radio club and start attending. There are way too many technical, safety, efficiency, and technique questions for you to ever learn on your own. Get to know the old-timers in a club. They are generally very generous and knowledgeable.
It's a fun hobby. I'm glad to answer questions you might have.