In the field of radio frequency engineering, find out what an antenna engineer does for a living and what jobs are available in the private and public sector.
Looking for a career that combines technology, science, critical thinking, and opportunities to work for some of the most powerful companies in the world?
If so, then antenna engineering might appeal to you.
Are you an excellent communicator? Can you solve problems on-the-go? Do you enjoy testing and re-testing prototypes?
If so, then you may be happy in this industry.
In this post, we’ll fill you in on what an antenna engineer does.
We’ll also tell you the kind of salary you can expect to earn, and some of the most popular fields these professionals work within.
Read on to learn if becoming an antenna engineer is the right fit for your interests and professional background.
What Does an Antenna Engineer Do?
It can be tough to understand what an antenna engineer actually does.
Many people end up confusing it with RF engineering.
Radiofrequency engineers are primarily responsible for creating the radios and transmission devices themselves. Antenna engineers, however, are different.
They need to ensure that those devices can safely, effectively, and above all, securely, transmit those messages.
This means that you’ll work on things like satellite transmissions, Internet modems of all sizes, and most of all, cellphone devices. You’ll need to create and install your own antenna systems for specific devices.
You must also figure out ways to accurately test those devices.
In some cases, you’ll also need to find a way to create an antenna system that’s compatible with readymade products. Often, you’ll need to work with 3G, 4G, and even 2G communication devices.
You should expect to use lots of math and formulas in your everyday work. Many in the profession say that it’s an ideal balance between technical analysis and hands-on work.
You’ll need to learn how to install antennas and set up a secure transmission line that connects to it.
Are you considering becoming an antenna engineer yourself? Are you thinking of hiring one to do work for your company? Either way, you need to ensure you know the kinds of qualifications that are standard in the industry.
In many cases, the candidate will need to have a doctorate in engineering or within another technical field. Depending on the specifics of the work needed, however, some can enter into the field with a bachelor or master’s degree.
This is usually only in addition to certification from continuing education courses.
It takes many years of experience to graduate to the level of professionalism needed to land an antenna engineer job. In general, over ten years of experience is required to learn the ins and outs of the trade. That’s also the time it takes to learn how to mitigate potential problems.
Antenna engineers will need to master hardware and software system design, especially ESM sensor systems.
Strong knowledge of processing algorithms, signal processing systems and a familiarity with software systems that help with electromagnetic analysis is also required.
An antenna engineer will also need to know how to work with microwave circuit stimulations like ADS or AWR.
You should also be familiar with a variety of coding languages.
Above all, given the nature of the work, any candidate you consider hiring will need to get a DoD Security Clearance.
Though we know that the above qualifications can certainly seem daunting for those interested in landing a job as an RF engineer or AE, the flexibility of job opportunities makes it all worth it.
Plus, the average antenna engineer salary is roughly $134,000 or higher.
Electronic companies in the private sector like Apple, HP, and Samsung are always on the lookout for antenna engineers to help with product development.
You can work on antenna design, integration with manufacturers/production, product testing, and failure analysis within the private sector.
The most popular career path of an antenna engineer is to work within the Department of Defense or the government.
Here, it’s less about designing the antenna, and more about conducting research to ensure the government has the best possible aircraft, weapons, and more. Expect to do tons of coding here, and to install many antenna systems on a single aircraft.
Still others will work within the education/research sector.
You can become a professor at a university, work within a National Lab, or develop new concepts relating to antenna miniaturization, cloaking, and broadband antennas.
There are also opportunities to work with space satellites for NASA and other space exploration research facilities.
If you’re just starting out, your best bet will likely be to look for a position at an antenna engineering consulting services firm.
This way, you’ll be able to gain more professional experience in a variety of fields, so that you can learn what kind of job you’d like best in the future.
Is Becoming an Antenna Engineer Right for You?
We hope that this post has helped you to better understand what exactly a day in the life of an antenna engineer is like. We also hope you’ve learned about the potential job opportunities and qualifications required.
Yes, it is a lot of work and requires years of study.
However, the competitive salary, flexibility, and opportunity to create unique systems for the military, space stations, and the top communication companies make it a rewarding field for many.
Just make sure that you also brush up on your communication skills if you want to get into antenna engineering.
After all, you’ll need to be able to break down these complex concepts to “average people.”
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