RF Engineering Degree and Training Program Information

Oct 11, 2019

Radio frequencies are the basis of certain types of communications systems as well as energy efficient circuits. RF engineering, often taught with microwave engineering, is a discipline in electrical engineering, and training is offered at several levels.

Essential Information

There are no programs dedicated solely to the subject of RF engineering. Students who wish to study the field or find work as engineers who specialize in radio frequencies should consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or graduate certificate in electrical, wireless, or microwave engineering. Most engineers need at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for entry-level work.

To enroll in a four-year bachelor's program, students must have a high school education and be sufficiently prepared for pre-calculus mathematics. For graduate certificates, students will need to complete a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering prior to enrolling. Applicants with related bachelor's degrees in electronics engineering technology or physics may need to demonstrate sufficient training in electromagnetics. Master's applicants must have relevant bachelor's degrees as well, and Master of Science in Engineering programs are open exclusively to those with a bachelor's degree in engineering.

Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering

Elective coursework in electrical engineering programs often includes options in RF engineering. Programs can emphasize hands-on technical abilities as well as the theoretical foundations of the technology.

Programs offer significant training in math, design, and computer science to give students a solid understanding of the theories behind the design of communications systems and components. As preparation for working with RF systems, subsystems, and integrated circuits, electrical engineering students can learn about:

  • Calculus
  • Communication electromagnetics
  • Logic design
  • Probability
  • Thermodynamics

Graduate Certificate in Wireless Engineering

These programs are typically offered through departments in electrical engineering. Training in microwave and radio wave engineering is most commonly applied to the communications field. Some programs simply require coursework, while others also require a final project.

Students can learn about numerical techniques as well as systems and circuit design. Programs can offer training in:

  • Antenna design
  • Microwave engineering
  • Radar systems
  • RF design
  • Wireless communications networks

Master's Degrees Covering RF Engineering

RF engineering training is offered through master's programs focusing on RF and microwaves, applied electromagnetics, electrical engineering, and computer engineering. Some of these Master of Science and Master of Science in Engineering programs are affiliated with research laboratories that specialize in different areas, like RF engineering. Programs take 1-2 years to complete and have thesis and non-thesis options.

Students prepare for careers working with RF communications equipment, radar, and antennas. Coursework related to RF engineering includes:

  • Antennas
  • Digital and analog communication
  • Electronic design
  • Radar
  • Spread spectrum

Popular Careers

Professional electrical engineers are able to work in hands-on careers or as managers who oversee projects and teams of people. Because managerial jobs often require years of professional experience, bachelor's degree program graduates may find themselves initially working as:

  • Design engineers
  • Systems analysts
  • Technical sales people

In addition to working in existing fields, graduates of advanced degree programs are prepared to invent new applications for existing technologies. Job titles available to master's degree program graduates include:

  • Electronics designer
  • Forensic lab analyst
  • Information technology troubleshooter

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for electrical engineers were expected to see 5% growth from 2018-2028, while growth in electronics engineering was projected to decline 1% (www.bls.gov).

Electronics engineers outside of the computer field earned a median annual wage of $102,700, according to the May 2018 BLS reports. These same reports showed a median annual wage of $96,640 for electrical engineers.

Certification and Licensure Information

Certification in radio frequency identification is available through CompTIA upon passing a 90-minute written exam. At least six months of technical experience is recommended before taking the test. Certified professionals need to retake the certification exam every three years to keep their certification current.

Engineers offering their services directly to the public must obtain a Professional Engineer (PE) license. Individual state requirements vary, but generally, candidates must have earned an undergraduate engineering degree from a program accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).

Continuing Education Information

Doctoral programs in electrical engineering provide course offerings in RF engineering. Graduates of doctoral programs are qualified to pursue careers in independent research and academia.

Students wishing to learn about radio frequency engineering can enroll in bachelor's, master's, or graduate certificate programs in fields like electrical or wireless engineering, which give students a well-rounded education in electronics with options for specialization or elective learning in RF engineering. Licensure is required to work as an engineer, and professional certification and doctoral programs in the field are available.

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