Radio Operator: Information About a Career As a Radio Operator

Learn what radio operators do and what kind of training and education are needed to become one. See what the job prospects are to decide if this career field is the right one for you.

Career Definition for a Radio Operator

Professional radio operators are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing electronic equipment that transmits and receives radio signals. They work for radio stations and local governments that use traditional and high definition (HD) radio transmissions for communication.

Education No formal education required; broadcasting or technology courses at vocational school or community college can be helpful
Job Skills Computer-literate, tech-savvy, dexterous, detail-oriented
Median Salary (2018)* $42,220
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* -1%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Familiarity with radio technology is the most important qualification for being a radio operator, rather than formal education requirements. Many radio operators gain experience with radio equipment and computer technology through vocational school, community college or college-level study in broadcasting or electronics. Alternatively, amateur and college radio operators are often self-taught and find employment due to their expertise.

Skills Required

Radio operators are electronically and technologically inclined. The movement towards digital broadcasting requires a high degree of computer literacy. Radio operators are also detail-oriented and able to work dexterously with small parts.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the number of jobs for radio operators will decrease by 1% between 2016 and 2026. In 2018, radio operators earned median pay of $42,220, according to BLS figures.

Alternate Career Options

Other careers in similar fields include:

Audio and Video Equipment Technician

Audio and video equipment technicians are responsible for the electronic equipment used for events held in hotels, schools, convention centers, concert halls, and related venues. They set up and operate a variety of equipment, including mixing boards, microphones, video cameras, projectors and speakers. They're also responsible for keeping these components in good working order.

Employers typically look for candidates with at least a high school diploma, although relevant postsecondary degrees or certificates can improve employment prospects. On-the-job training is common, and voluntary professional certification is available. Jobs in this field are expected to increase by 13% from 2016 to 2026, per the BLS. The median pay for this occupation was $43,770 in 2018, also according to the BLS.

Mapping Technician

Mapping technicians use computers to access collected measurements of a land area and then use that information to draft or update maps (although fieldwork is sometimes possible). Mapping technicians may prepare general maps or specialty maps in which certain features are highlighted for a particular use. Common employers include engineering, surveying and mapping companies, as well as state and local governments. Mapping technicians usually have at least an associate degree in a related field. Voluntary professional certifications are available in this field. The BLS expects employment for surveying and mapping technicians to increase by 11% from 2016 to 2026 and reports that workers in this field earned a median pay of $44,380 in 2018.


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