What Does An RF Engineer Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

RF Engineers

RF Engineers are Electrical Engineers that specialize in radio-frequency engineering. They work with telecommunication and IT companies to design, implement, and maintain wireless communication.

Bachelor's degree

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Radio Frequency (RF) Engineers design and maintain the devices and infrastructures needed for wireless communication. These essential Engineers help improve the 4G signal strength on your smartphone. They are responsible for the development of a wide range of technologies that rely on radio waves to send and receive data, including satellites, WiFi networks, and cellular networks.

RF Engineers primarily work within the Telecommunications and Information Technology (IT) industries. They design antennas, communication towers, and other equipment needed for wireless communications. The technical nature of this job typically requires advanced education, certifications, and experience.

What they do

RF Engineers are Electrical Engineers that specialize in radio-frequency engineering. They work with telecommunication and IT companies to design, implement, and maintain wireless communication.

Analyze and Improve the Performance of Networks

The main responsibility of an RF Engineer is to analyze and improve the performance of communications networks. The type of network depends on the job. For example, RF Engineers working for telecommunications companies may work on 4G wireless networks. RF Engineers that work for the military may need to enhance the performance of satellite networks used for long-range communications.

Design the RF Strategies for New Wireless Networks

RF Engineers are often involved in the development of new communications networks. Wireless communication relies on a variety of components including antennas, transmitters, receivers, signal amplifiers, and controllers.

RF Engineers need to plan and design the network to maximize the efficiency of communications between devices. This often involves collaboration with other Engineers, including Mechanical Engineers and Electrical Engineers.

Connect and Maintain Broadcasting Devices

RF Engineers occasionally perform fieldwork, such as connecting and maintaining broadcasting devices. Radio towers, antennas, and other equipment need to be properly connected and set to increase the strength of the broadcast signal.

When a component of a communications network fails, the RF Engineer may need to use computer software to pinpoint the problem before physically traveling to the location of the malfunctioning device. The RF Engineer then completes any necessary repairs and configurations.

Develop New Communications Products

RF Engineers are involved in the development of products with communications features that depend on radio waves. Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, smartphones, tablets, and many other common gadgets rely on communications networks. To ensure that these devices can communicate, manufacturers typically employ RF Engineers to design the communications components, such as the antenna and related hardware.

Ensure That Networks Comply with FCC Regulations

All broadcasts and wireless communications need to comply with the regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). When designing, repairing, or configuring communications networks, RF Engineers need to ensure that the networks comply with regulatory standards.

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What is the job like


You Get to Design and Create Things

RF Engineers design and develop new communications devices, which can be fun for those who enjoy tinkering.

You Get to Use the Latest Technologies

Working in telecommunications allows you to use the latest technologies before they become widely available.

You May Explore Other Careers

The skills needed to become an RF Engineer allows you to pursue jobs in other Engineering fields.

Your Work Can Be Interesting

Telecommunications technologies evolve rapidly, which helps keep this job interesting and exciting.


You May Work Long Hours to Meet Deadlines

RF Engineers frequently work extended hours to ensure that projects are completed on time.

You May Face Strong Competition for Jobs

RF Engineering is a competitive field, requiring you to excel at your job and stand out from others seeking the same positions.

Where they work

Radio and Television Broadcast Stations
Telecommunications Companies
Electronics Manufacturers

RF Engineers work for a variety of employers, including the Military and Radio or Television Broadcast Stations. RF Engineers are also employed by manufacturers that develop wireless products, such as smartphone manufacturers and antenna manufacturers.

Telecommunications companies are the biggest employers of RF Engineers, as they require Engineers to design, test, and maintain their wireless communications infrastructure, which includes cell towers and antennas.

How to become one

Step 1: Study Electronics in High School

Aspiring RF Engineers should excel at Math and study electronics, including the use of radio transmitting equipment.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

RF Engineers need at least a Bachelor’s degree to enter this field. Students typically major in Electrical Engineering. The problem should be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Step 3: Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam

Engineers that provide services to the public require a professional engineer license in most states. The first step to becoming a PE is to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.

Step 4: Look for Entry-Level Jobs

After passing the FE exam, start looking for entry-level RF Engineer positions, which are commonly available at telecommunications companies.

Step 5: Obtain the Professional Engineer License

RF Engineers with at least four years of relevant experience can take the Principles of Engineering (PE) exam. After passing the PE exam, you become a professional engineer.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Builder

People with this personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

RF Engineers require strong written and verbal communication skills to help decision-makers understand technical details. Successful RF Engineers are also often curious as curiosity helps Engineers explore a variety of solutions to technical problems. Good organizational skills and attention to detail are also essential characteristics for RF Engineers due to the complex nature of this career.

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