Radio Systems Engineer

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Radio Systems Engineer


Radio is one of the first wired media that served people as an inclusive means of communication. Before television sets were commonplace in homes, radios acted as the "new" technological form of entertainment. Families gathered around the radio to listen to music, news and sporting events. Nowadays, radios are still an important part of our media and personalities like Casey Kasem have brought radio back off the nightstand. Also, radio has found a place within high-speed Internet and digital cable systems, which offer listeners the opportunity to tune into radio stations from around the world.

Radio systems engineers coordinate and assist in integration and testing of hardware and software throughout the development cycle of a radio. They generate, transmit, distribute, store, control and use electromagnetic energy or electrically coded information bringing sound to the radio waves. Their creations perform so many functions! When it comes to radio activity; both the improvement of already existing radio systems and the creation of new functions, the radio systems engineer controls all aspects of it. The duties and responsibilities of radio systems engineers often overlap with those of electrical and electronics engineers.

Many radio systems engineers start their careers as electrical or electronics engineers. Then with experience they move into this specialized area. Radio systems engineers meet with manufacturers, producers, lawyers, scientists and clients and constantly check that design plans are safe and will withstand a number of conditional variables. They create engineering plans on computers that test and predict possible errors and problems with a mechanism and in this, they generate workable solutions. Although most work takes place on the computer, many radio systems engineers travel to studios and stations to see their work in progress.

Radio systems engineers use traditional and high-tech tools, such as computer-aided design (CAD) systems to create realistic geometric models of objects which can simulate and analyze the effects and potential problems of designs. CAD models are eliminating the need for hand drawn models. Radio systems engineers research and evaluate the most cost-effective solutions to problems while still maintaining recognized standards. They are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
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  Interests and Skills  
Radio systems engineers should have a natural curiosity and affinity for mechanics, mathematics and electronics. They should also love the radio medium, as they will be always working with it. Since imprecise calculations could cause major disasters and expensive mistakes, they must be 100 percent accurate in their calculations. Their jobs are extremely technical therefore they should be organized and methodical in their working habits. They must be good problem-solvers and be able to come up with innovative and creative solutions to potential problems and design work.

They must have strong communication skills. Radio systems engineers constantly deal with people from both sides of the professional spectrum therefore they must be able to communicate ideas and give orders in a clear, concise fashion.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conduct research into the feasibility, design, operation and performance of radio systems and electronic communications instruments, equipment and networks
  • Prepare material cost and timing estimates, reports and design specifications for radio systems and equipment
  • Design electrical and electronic radio circuits, components, systems and equipment
  • Supervise and inspect the installation, modification, testing and operation of radio systems and equipment
  • Develop maintenance and operating standards for radio systems and equipment
  • Investigate electrical or electronic failures and trouble shoot existing systems
  • Prepare contract documents and evaluate tenders for construction or maintenance
  • Supervise technicians, technologists, programmers, analysts and other engineers
  • Radio systems engineers generally work in an office environment on computers, but may sometimes travel to recording studios or radio stations to see their creations up and running or being built. They must do a considerable amount of reading and research to keep up-to-date with new technological developments. Longer hours may be required to meet design deadlines, which is commonplace.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Radio systems engineers are both private and public sector workers. They are usually employed by government agencies, radio stations, electrical utilities companies, telecommunications companies, manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment, consulting firms and by a wide range of manufacturing, processing and transportation industries.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Since radio systems engineers have such extensive training and knowledge in electrical products, advancement potentials range from computer applications and microelectronics to the design of extra-high-voltage facilities. They would also be great marketing representatives or sales people for these types of products (who better to sell a product than its designer?). Those with experience may become senior managers or supervisors of junior engineers. Some combine their engineering degrees with other graduate degrees such as business, law or medicine and move towards that specialty area. Finally there are many jobs in high-tech companies looking for electrical engineers.

  Educational Paths  
While still in high school, if this is the career path you are interested in taking, make sure you take courses in mathematics and physics. Most university and college programs will require these subject areas as prerequisites.

Radio systems engineers require a bachelor's degree in electrical or electronics engineering or in a related engineering field. Then, they must also become registered as a professional engineer (PEng) within an association of professional engineers to secure employment and practice in their field. Some engineers also get master's degrees in their specific area or in related fields such as business (MBA).

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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