Should I Become an Antenna Engineer?
Antenna engineers research, develop and improve satellites, modems, mobile phones and other communication devices. They generally work in offices but also might get to spend some time working on equipment in the field. Sometimes, overtime work or flexible scheduling is required.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree required; some employers may prefer a graduate degree|
|Degree Field||Electrical engineering|
|Licensure||Licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE) is encouraged|
|Experience||At least 2 years of experience required for most positions|
|Key Skills||Math skills, communication skills, detail oriented; field specific software such as CAD, Unix, C++; knowledge of and ability to use tools such as signal generators, spectrometers and evaporators|
|Salary (2014)||$59,820 per year (Median salary for electrical and electronics engineering technicians)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online, Monster.com (December 2012 job postings)
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Prospective antenna engineers may consider studying a bachelor's degree program in electronic or electrical engineering. These programs typically last 4-5 years and include courses in advanced mathematics, circuit theory and electromagnetics. Some universities may also offer antenna engineering courses, which cover antenna design, array feeds and radiation.
Additionally, students may consider computer-aided design (CAD) or lab courses where they can use computer software and mathematical models to input calculations and test designs. Prospective engineers should choose from schools accredited by ABET (formerly known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).
- Earn an advanced engineering degree. According to job postings on Monster.com during December 2012, employers may prefer candidates who have completed a master's or PhD degree program in electronic or electrical engineering. These programs typically last 1-2 years and cover advanced topics, such as system design and analysis, wireless devices and digital signal processing. Graduate programs may also include research projects or a thesis in order to graduate.
Step 2: Find Entry-Level Work
Entry-level antenna engineers may be responsible for researching mobile antenna designs. As professionals gain experience, their duties may increase in number and complexity, such as using CAD software to simulate multiband antenna function, debugging integrated systems and monitoring radiation patterns. Other duties may include coordinating antenna development, creating manuals and providing technical assistance to clients and contractors.
Step 3: Attain Engineering License
All states require engineers to be licensed in order to offer their services to clients. While requirements may vary by state, licensure generally entails holding a degree from an ABET-accredited program, having four years of documented work experience and passing exams.
Recent graduates may consider taking the first licensing exam on the fundamentals of engineering. Those who pass become engineers-in-training (EITs).
EITs with four years of documented work experience may take the principles and practice of engineering exam in order to become Professional Engineers (PEs). Some states may require continuing education for PEs, which may include completing college-level coursework, attending educational seminars or publishing research papers.