Radio Equipment Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
A radio equipment technician's mean annual salary is around $45,000. Is it worth the training requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a radio equipment technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Radio Equipment Technician Career

Radio equipment technicians are responsible for repairing, testing and replacing defective transmitting and receiving equipment. Read on to discover more about the pros and cons associated with being a radio equipment technician and decide if it's the right career choice for you.

Pros of Being a Radio Equipment Technician
Above-average salary for associate's degree holders ($47,000 as of May 2014)**
2-year degree and training can get you started*
Certifications available*

Cons of Being a Radio Equipment Technician
Slow growth (1% from 2012-2022)
Higher-than-average rate of work-related injuries**
Might need to stay on call and work overtime**
Job can involve physical strain from crawling, crouching, etc.**
Work performed at various heights (replacement of antennas on communication towers)*

Source: *O*Net Online, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Information

Job Description

Radio equipment technicians, or radio mechanics, install and maintain both transmitting and receiving radio equipment. You might work with both stationary equipment, such as transmission towers, and mobile equipment, like the two-way radio systems used in taxis and airplanes. When troubleshooting radio equipment, you'll use both electronic tools and hand tools to determine issues and recalibrate equipment correctly. Technicians need to test each separate part of a piece of radio equipment to determine what is causing the malfunction. You'll likely need to travel to different sites to work on installations and repairs, though some repairs can be completed in-house using remote diagnostic equipment. You might be able to specialize in aviation or marine radio, which usually requires separate licensure.

Career Outlook and Salary Info

From 2012-2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected faster-than-average growth for radio equipment technicians. In May 2014, most radio, cellular and tower equipment installers and repairers earned between $28,000 and $75,000. The top paying industry in the field was electric power generation, transmission and distribution, which averaged about $80,000. Hawaii, Montana, Virginia, Oregon and Alabama have the highest concentration of jobs.

What Are the Requirements?

Most radio equipment technicians have a minimum of an associate's degree in computers, electronics or a related field, according to the BLS. You can get appropriate training in a few ways, such as through a technical school, a college, manufacturer certification programs or relevant military work.

If you work as a marine or aviation radio mechanic, you'll typically need a commercial operator license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Testing is not run through the FCC, but you'll submit proof that you completed the test to them, along with your license application. Once you've gotten your license, you'll be able to perform repairs on coastal stations, aircraft stations, radar stations and hand units used to communicate on aircraft and marine frequencies.

Top Skills for Radio Equipment Technicians

All radio equipment technicians should be familiar with computers and mechanically minded, as well as have strong problem-solving skills. They need to be able to distinguish between different colors in order to work with color-coded wires and other pieces of radio equipment. Since you might need to climb towers, you shouldn't have a fear of heights and you'll need to stay in good shape.

What Real Employers Are Looking for

Employers often look for radio equipment technicians who can service many kinds of equipment issues, and interact with customers. While some type of formal education is usually required, it's often possible to substitute equivalent work experience for a degree. Continue reading for a sample of available job postings on Careerbuilder.com in March 2012:

  • A Florida company specializing in two-way radio communication services advertised for a communications field service technician to solve customer equipment issues. The posting specified that applicants need a 2-year degree in an electronics-related field or comparable experience. Certification as an Associate Electronics Technician (CETa) or higher is required, and FCC licensure in General Radio-Telephone is considered a plus.
  • A marine electronics company in Washington searched for a marine electronics technician. In addition to radios, the technician will service radars, GPS, autopilots and other electronic equipment onboard ships. An associate's degree or equivalent experience is required, and preferred qualities include an FCC General License with a radar endorsement and a Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) Radio Operator Maintainer License.
  • A staffing firm sought a radio frequency technician to work for an aviation client in New York. Formal avionics training or education is necessary, as is 5 years of experience troubleshooting aircraft radio components.

How Can I Stand Out?

You'll find the best opportunities to work as a radio equipment technician if you have a strong background in electronics and can work independently. Professional certifications are available through the Society of Cable and Telecommunications Engineers and FCC, as well as other organizations. Certification can show potential employers that you have initiative and the necessary knowledge to get the job done. It's also possible to become trained and certified on specific equipment.

Other Career Paths

Radio Operator

If becoming a radio equipment technician doesn't sound like the right career for you, there are many related job options out there. If you know you're interested in media and broadcasting, but want to do more than just repair equipment, consider a career as a radio operator. No formal education is required since you'll learn what you need to know from on-the-job training. As of May 2011, the BLS stated you'll earn a mean wage of $45,000, and employment growth is slower than average, at 7%, from 2010-2020. You'll be responsible for ensuring that radio equipment works properly, as well as be in charge of transmitting and receiving radio signals.

Line Installer or Repairer

On the other hand, if you know you want to go into communications repair work, but are wondering what's out there besides radio equipment, you could look into a career as a line installer or repairer. Though your duties will vary depending on what type of cables and wires you work with, you'll be responsible for making sure that power grids and communications networks are up and running. A fast as average growth of 13% is projected between 2010 and 2020, and you could make a yearly average salary of $51,000 as of May 2011.

Popular Schools

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    1. Full Sail University

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      • Career Diploma: Electronics Technician
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    7. Penn Foster High School

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Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • BS - Audio Production

What is your highest level of education?

Lincoln Tech

  • Electrical/Electronics

What year did you graduate High School / Receive GED?

Penn Foster Career School

  • Career Diploma: Electronics Technician

What is your highest level of education?

Virginia College

  • Diploma Program - Electrical Technician

What is your highest level of education completed?

The Art Institutes

  • Audio Production (BS)
  • Audio Production (BA)
  • Audio Production (AS)

What is your highest level of education?

Brightwood College

  • Electrical Technician
  • Electrical Technician Diploma

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

What is your age?

Southwestern College