Become a Radio Technologist: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a radio technologist. Research the education requirements, training, and experience you'll need to start a career in radio technology. View article »

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  • 0:01 Become a Radio Technologist
  • 0:48 Career Requirements
  • 1:26 Step 1: Education & Training
  • 2:06 Step 2: Obtain Basic…
  • 2:31 Step 3: Training & Advancement

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Video Transcript

Become A Radio Technologist

A radio technologist (also known as a radio or telecommunications technician) programs, maintains, and repairs radio frequency communication networks and equipment. They might need to transport and set up equipment, and they often work with computer software programs to help craft the special-effect sounds for radio programs. As radio equipment and telecommunications tools become more sophisticated, more advanced training is required to become a technologist.

Although some travel might be required, much of the work of a radio technologist takes place in recording studios. Since many radio stations run both day and night, workers often need to put in evening and weekend hours.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary degree preferred
Degree Field(s) Electronic technology or similar field
Licensure/Certification General Radiotelephone Operator License (PG) often required
Training On-the-job training specific to equipment
Salary $41,780 (2015 median for broadcast and sound engineering technicians)

'Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (May, 2014)

Obtaining a position as a radio technologist will require a minimum of a high school diploma. However, a postsecondary degree in electronic technology or a similar field may be preferred by employers. Many of these positions require licensure, such as the General Radiotelephone Operator License. In this occupation, some on-the-job training is available, especially for skills specific to certain types of equipment.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of May 2015, the median annual salary for broadcast and sound engineering technicians is $41,780.

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Step 1: Education and Training

A high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED) is required for entrance into the vocational or college programs that train would-be radio technologists. A high school diploma may be a minimum employment requirement; however, candidates must possess adequate professional experience and certifications.

Radio and telecommunications networks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Aspiring radio technologists often need an associate or bachelor's degree in electronics technology or a certificate from a vocational or trade school. Programs typically combine classes in electronics and communications with hands-on training in the field.

Step 2: Obtain Basic FCC License

The Federal Communications Commission requires radio frequency technicians and technologists to obtain the General Radiotelephone Operator License. This license is referred to as PG. The candidate must pass a written exam testing basic radio law, operating procedures, radio transmitter electronic fundamentals, and repair techniques (wireless.fcc.gov). The PG license does not expire.

Step 3: Training and Advancement

Some employers require would-be technologists to have training with radio equipment from specific vendors, such as Motorola, Kenwood, or Tait. Some vendors offer their own online and on-site training programs, and some product-specific training may be offered on the job for entry-level positions.

The Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA) offers the most applicable professional certification exams for radio technicians and technologists. A commonly required credential is the Associate Electronics Technician (CETa) certification (www.eta-i.org). This is a basic credential for those with less than two years of experience. The ETA also offers advanced and vendor-specific certifications for career advancement.

A career as a radio technologist may only require a high school diploma or its equivalent. However, with the increasing use of new technology in this field, aspiring technologists may want to obtain a postsecondary education in electronic technology. Professionals in this field need training, several years of experience, and at least PG certification in order to maintain and set up equipment and to successfully operate computer software and broadcast equipment.

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