Radio Technician: Job Description & Requirements

Nov 17, 2020

Career Definition for a Radio Technician

Radio technicians, often called radio operators, are responsible for maintenance and repair of radio equipment, as well as receiving and transmitting communication. Places of employment are surprisingly diverse, from radio stations to airports to the army, and employers rely on radio technicians to ensure fully functioning radio communication systems; for instance, the U.S. Army employs radio technicians to maintain reliable operation of radio communication equipment and prepare, transmit, and record messages for ground forces.

In an increasingly digital world, the field of radio is becoming more and more reliant on computer software and media programs to serve their technology needs, but radio technicians skilled in digital broadcasting and communications software can prepare themselves to serve the needs of an evolving industry.

Education Experience with electronics, certification available
Job Skills Manual dexterity, inconsistent work hours, grasp of electronics
Median Salary (2019)* $42,790 for radio operators
Job Growth (2019-2029)* 9% for radio operators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

No standard education is required for radio technicians, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In general, radio technician positions are entry-level and involve learning on the job; however, some experience with electronic equipment repair or assembly can be helpful. A certification exam, though not required, is available from The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) and awards the Certified Radio Operator (CRO) title to successful test-takers.

Skills Required

Many radio technicians have operated amateur radios or worked with hobby kits in their spare time, and others have worked in college radio or news broadcasting. Manual dexterity is important, and radio technicians must have a tolerance for sometimes inconsistent work hours and off-hours repair calls. It's beneficial to have a natural grasp of electronic systems and equipment, as well, though many radio technicians learn these concepts on the job.

Career Outlook

The BLS predicts that the employment of radio operators will grow by 9% from 2019 to 2029, mostly due to the consolidation and digitization of the industry. Radio technicians who focus on cultivating digital technology skills will find themselves best poised to weather the changes in the radio technology career field, especially in major metropolitan areas and highly regulated technologies such as air traffic control. Traditional radio technician jobs may be more often found in rural areas or small radio stations. The median annual salary for a radio operator working in May 2019 was reported as $42,790 by the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

For other options in radio and engineering careers, choose from the following:

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician

These positions in which techs set up and operate the equipment for radio and TV broadcasts, sound recordings, movies and concerts were projected by the BLS to expand as fast as average, with 9% growth expected from 2019-2029. These professionals usually have an associate's degree or postsecondary certificate, and the annual median wage was $45,510 in 2019, per the BLS.

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technician

Usually earning an associate's degree from a community college or vocational school in electronics or electrical engineering, these techs help engineers designing computers and various types of electronic and electrical equipment. Although an increase of 2% is expected during the 2019-2029 decade, the BLS notes that those working in the computer systems design services industry will still be in demand during that time. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians made median salaries of $65,260 in May 2019, according to the BLS.

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