What is a radio frequency engineer?
Radio frequency (RF) engineers are electrical engineers who ensure that radio wave communication remains fast and efficient. Contrary to popular belief, radio waves are not only used for radio broadcast, but for a wide range of communication, including television, mobile phones, air traffic control and even remote-controlled toys. Thus, the work of an RF engineer doesn’t just help people at home, it’s crucial for a range of industry professionals.
What are the typical responsibilities of a radio frequency engineer?
Day to day responsibilities include:
- Designing, testing and installing devices that send and receive radio waves
- Designing and planning new wireless networks
- Improving existing wireless networks: phones going from 1G to 4G
- Inspecting and repairing any faulty equipment
- Ensuring that any work complies with Ofcom regulations
What skills do I need to be a radio frequency engineer?
Given the hands-on nature of this role, technical skills are crucial. This will allow you to design, test and troubleshoot an array of scientific equipment. You can develop these skills by taking free online courses or shadowing RF engineers, and you could even join a local robotics or engineering club.
Teamwork is also an important skill. Your work will require you to liaise with a number of different people, such as marketers from telecommunications companies. Everyone will have different priorities, but you’ll need to work together to come up with cost-effective solutions.
Finally, written and verbal communication skills are valued. As you’ll be working with a range of people, many of them won’t have the same technical understanding. Thus, you’ll need to be able to explain complex technical information in a way that the general public will understand.
How do I become a radio frequency engineer?
There are a number of ways to enter the field. You can complete a degree in a related field, like engineering or physics. You could also complete a short course in radio frequency.
Completing an apprenticeship is a great way to start your career. The radio network technician (level 3) apprenticeship provides apprentices with a fully funded qualification and paid work experience. Upon completion, you can work as a radio network technician (focusing more on maintenance) and work your way up to become an engineer.