These engineers hold many different positions. But generally, they work
with microwaves, antennas and fiber optics to transmit data, either through
cellular or satellite systems.
RF engineers' duties are varied. It depends on where they work and what
type of product their companies build.
They may build antennas for cellular phones. Or they might create frequency
sources that allow signals to travel from receivers to transmitters. They
could also develop and design wireless equipment.
They may also perform on-site surveys -- both in the field and at plants
where products are actually designed and built.
"It's a very hands-on type of job," says Lorna Carr. She is a senior RF
engineer. "And you get to use a lot of really interesting equipment."
She adds that the job involves working with a lot of "fiddly little things."
It requires you to take lots of fine measurements, and then tune and play
with parts until they work properly.
Most RF engineers work for telecommunications companies. Some also work
for universities, the government or engineering firms. They may also be self-employed
Junior RF engineers spend the majority of their time performing hands-on
work in a lab. Senior RF engineers spend some time in the lab, but more of
their time is spent managing and coordinating projects.
A typical workday for an RF engineer is 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 9 a.m. until
5 p.m. Overtime may be required if a project needs to be completed by a certain
Michael Glaum is a control systems engineer in Rhode Island. He performs
some RF duties when working with satellites.
He says he tends to work overtime fairly regularly because his company
is so busy. Carr says she was also in a similar situation prior to moving
into management. Because there seems to be a shortage of RF engineers, overtime
may become more common.
Carr says overseas travel is common for many RF engineers. Some of her
colleagues travel to Korea and spend six weeks overseeing the production in
This is also common where Glaum works. Many of the RF engineers travel
between Rhode Island and Denmark.
Because of the wide variety of duties performed by an RF engineer, some
physical handicaps would not present a problem in choosing this as a career.
However, Carr says that RF engineers use their hands a lot. They must be
able to solder tiny pieces together. That means full hand movement is critical.
And because the parts RF engineers work with are so tiny, good eyesight is
Work with microwaves, antennas and fiber optics to transmit data
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