Securing employment as a radio technician requires postsecondary education in a related subject area, such as electronics or information technology. In addition, proper federal licensure is needed, and many employers prefer technicians to also hold relevant certification.
Radio technicians test, maintain and repair radio communications equipment and systems. Radio technicians often have some undergraduate postsecondary education, and received hands-on training through internships, assistantships and on-the-job training. Radio technicians who are licensed or certified may find it easier to find a job.
|Required Education||Certificate or associate's degree|
|Other Requirements||Voluntary licensure or certification|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||7%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$37,490|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Broadcast Technicians)
Education Requirements for Radio Technicians
Completion of some form of postsecondary education in an area such as information technology, electronics or computer networking is preferred by most employers. Training is available through certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree programs. Also, some related business, such as equipment manufacturing companies, offer technical training programs. On-the-job training often supplements the formal education of newly hired radio technicians.
Certificate and associate degree programs train students in the Enhanced Digital Access Communication System (EDACS), electronics technology, circuit theory, components, radio frequency and communications. Bachelor's degree programs also cover engineering theories. Internships and assistantships provide hands-on training in radio communications maintenance, as well as system repair and troubleshooting experience in 2-way radios, digital microwaves and mobile radios.
Radio technicians are responsible for the installation of radios, repeaters, microwave systems and networks including towers, antennas, generators and fuel systems. They maintain radio transmitting and receiving equipment and systems. Radio techs also create plans for radio communication installations and expansions, as well as develop recommendations and upgrades for customers. Communication skills are required for dealing with agencies and vendors.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), growth of employment for all broadcast and sound engineering technicians is expected to growth by 7% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also specified that the employment of broadcast technicians is expected to drop by 6% in the same time frame and employment of sound engineering technicians is projected to increase by 8% in the 10-year period. Radio, cellular, and tower equipment installers and repairers earned a median annual salary of approximately $51,660 as of May 2015, per the BLS, while broadcast technicians earned $37,490 that same year.
Licensure and Certification Requirements
Prior to placement in entry-level positions most employers prefer applicants to be licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Licensing exams cover radio law, maintenance practices, FCC regulations and electronic fundamentals. Certification may also be necessary. Relevant certifications for radio technicians are available through organizations such as the Telecommunications Industry Association.
In addition to a certificate or associate's degree, licensure and certification, becoming a radio technician requires a solid understanding of radio equipment, such as microwave systems and network towers. Jobs for broadcast and engineering technicians as a whole are expected to increase steadily through 2024.