Radio Operator Training and Education Program Information
Radio operators can work for a variety of employers, including the maritime industry, airlines or the United States Army. Jobs as radio operators require minimal formal education, with most companies offering on-the-job training. Education for passing amateur radio license exams is often provided through ham radio clubs.
Radio Operator Training
Radio operators prepare for emergencies by maintaining transmission equipment, repairing systems and performing preventative maintenance. Some organizations provide self-study materials to prospective radio operators. Informal courses, run by radio clubs, prepare students to obtain a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license as a ham or commercial radio operator. Courses take as little as one day to complete; there are no prerequisites required.
Radio operators periodically inspect and test equipment to ensure that the machines are in working order. Additionally, operators set transmitters, keep records and relay distress calls to emergency response professionals. On-the-job training might include the study of:
- Broadcast preservation and recording
- Electrical principles
- Interpretation of coded messages
- Maintenance of station logs
- Radio equipment repair
- Transmission instruction exchange
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2012, there were 1,280 radio operators employed (www.bls.gov). The state or local government employed most of these professionals. The BLS stated that the yearly median wage for radio operators was $42,080 in 2012. Here are some typical jobs for which radio operators may be eligible:
- Flight communications specialist
- Radio electronics technician
- Telecommunication operator
Continuing Education and Licensure Information
Radio operators who are required to have a commercial license work on certain ships, aircrafts or in international fixed public radio communications. For example, radio operators working on ships larger than 300 gross tons or carrying more than six passengers for hire are required to obtain commercial licensure. Professionals working on aircraft radio stations that deal with international travel are also required to obtain commercial licensure.
Commercial operator license exams include both written and telegraphy elements. The majority of commercial radio operator licenses are issued for the lifetime of the license-holder and, therefore, do not need to be renewed.
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