Radio Frequency Engineer

Introduction

As a Radio Frequency Engineer, you will be responsible for the design and production of telecommunication systems.

Also known as

  • RF Engineer

Work Activities

As a Radio Frequency Engineer, you will be responsible for the design and production of telecommunication systems. These include:

  • mobile and landline phones
  • wireless internet
  • radio
  • computer networks
  • microwaves
  • satellites
  • fibre optic devices
  • laptops

You will test these devices for any problems and fix them if they do not pass any inspections. You might have to visit people’s homes, offices and businesses to test any problems or issues. This could be a technical problem or a fault in the design of the communication system.

You might have to write weekly reports on the systems you attend to. This would include any maintenance plans, faults and ongoing issues that will need to be fixed.

Some Radio Frequency Engineers also assist in the design of these systems, and work with Designers and Technicians throughout the project to completion.

You might also help to discover new ways and techniques to develop the systems. This might include:

  • the way it is designed
  • how to make the system faster and easier to use

As a Radio Frequency Engineer, you must always ensure that you follow safe working practices.

Your other duties may include:

  • assisting in the drawing up of manufacturing specifications and testing of new systems
  • supporting any customers who need help by visiting them or talking to them on the phone
  • any administrative duties that might be required

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Radio Frequency Engineer, you will need:

  • great organisational skills to plan and co-ordinate resources
  • good communication skills for writing technical reports and liaising with other staff and customers
  • to have technical ability and good computer skills
  • IT skills
  • an analytical and logical mind to help with solving problems
  • to be able to work as part of a team
  • to be willing to keep up to date with any advances in technology
  • an understanding of electrical health and safety regulations
  • experience in the industry

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £33,500 - £36,000
  • With experience: £36,000 - £43,000

Hours of work

Most Radio Frequency Engineers work around 35-40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, early starts, late finishes and some weekend work may be required.

Where could I work?

Employers are firms in a variety of industries, including :

  • engineering manufacturing
  • electricity generation and distribution
  • communications
  • transportation
  • chemical
  • marine and offshore industries
  • the public sector
  • the armed forces
  • computer manufacturers

Opportunities for Radio Frequency Engineers occur throughout the UK.

This career could involve working for an agency.

Self-employment

Some Radio Frequency Engineers work as self-employed, independent consultants.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).

GreenJobs is a job board aimed at people interested in green careers:

www.greenjobs.co.uk/browse-jobs/engineering/

Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.

Take a look at our General Information Article 'Finding Work Online'.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

A degree in radio frequency, microwave engineering or a similar field will help you to enter this career.

Many Radio Frequency Engineers have backgrounds in electronic engineering and telecommunications engineering, although entrants may also be graduates in other engineering disciplines.

It's essential to check university websites very carefully to make sure the course you choose is relevant to the branch of Engineering you want to follow.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Training

Some graduates join graduate training schemes, which offer structured training and learning.

To become a Radio Frequency Engineer, you could gain status from Chartered Engineer or Incorporated Engineer professions. This could help you to really stand out from the crowd!

To register as a Chartered Engineer or an Incorporated Engineer, you must join a professional engineering institution licensed by the Engineering Council. You will have to demonstrate commitment and competence to the course to register.

Routes to Chartered Engineering status include completing:

  • an accredited honours degree in engineering or technology, plus either an appropriate Masters degree or engineering Doctorate accredited by a professional Engineering institution, or appropriate further learning to Masters level
  • or, an accredited integrated MEng degree

Routes to Incorporated Engineering status include completing:

  • an accredited Bachelors or honours degree in engineering or technology
  • or, a HNC, HND or foundation degree in engineering or technology, plus appropriate further learning to degree level
  • or, a NVQ level 4, which has been approved by a licensed Engineering institution

Progression

Depending on your qualifications and experience, you can progress by taking on more responsibility for the management of Engineering projects and teams of Engineers.

Some Radio Frequency Engineers choose to become self-employed or take contract work on a freelance basis.

Work Experience

Previous experience working in the engineering industry (mechanical, telecommunications, chemical or electrical) would be really useful for this career.

Qualifications

The entry requirements for a degree in radio frequency or microwave engineering might include:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs in your A level subjects at grade C/4 or above
  • a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above
  • maths and a science or technology subject, eg, physics or electronics, are normally required at A level
  • English, maths and a science subject are usually required at GCSE at grade C/4 or above

Check college/university websites carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Further Information

Semta

Skills for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies

Address: 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT

Tel: 0845 6439001

Email: customerservices@semta.org.uk

Website: www.semta.org.uk

Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)

Address: Blue Court, Church Lane, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire WD4 8JP

Tel: 01923 260000

Email: ecitb@ecitb.org.uk

Website: careers.ecitb.org.uk

Engineering Council

Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX

Tel: 020 3206 0500

Website: www.engc.org.uk

Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

Address: Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2AY

Tel: 01438 313311

Email: postmaster@theiet.org

Website: www.theiet.org

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Address: Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1ET

Tel: 01793 444000

Website: www.epsrc.ac.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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