What does a Radio Frequency Specialist do?

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What is a Radio Frequency Specialist?

A frequency specialist is a demanding and challenging position that is part of the communications technology career path in the military. This is an enlisted service position that involves working with telecommunications equipment in order to gather and communicate information. Relaying information among air and ground troops is an important aspect of military security, and specialists are needed in order to collect, organize, and interpret intelligence regarding the welfare of aircraft and weapons. Radio specialists are dispatched all over the world at various secure locations during both peacetime and war.

Holding a position in the military can be very rewarding and teaches valuable skills such as discipline, leadership, and teamwork.

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What does a Radio Frequency Specialist do?

A frequency specialist is usually specialized in radar operations. They work with radios, telephones, antennas, satellites, security, and network devices. Similar specialists will work with sonar, which deals with sound waves, instead of radar.

Some general duties of a radar specialist include but are not limited to:

  • Installing and maintaining electronic systems
  • Encoding and decoding classified messages
  • Operating communications equipment
  • Monitoring aircraft, including position, speed, and direction
  • Scanning for enemy targets
  • Maintaining circuits and connections
  • Monitoring early warning defense systems
  • Analyzing intelligence gathered
  • Directing missile craft and aircraft

Frequency specialists are essential for collecting information on aircraft, such as speed, location, and direction. This information is collected for both friendly and enemy targets, and it is very important to manage it accurately in case there is an impending attack incoming and the base has to enter defensive positions. This information is gathered using communications equipment, which allows the user to detect and track incoming objects. Forces on the ground and on the air are then alerted of the conditions as well as of emergency circumstances.

How to become a Radio Frequency Specialist

Because this is a military position, a legal agreement called an enlistment contract must be signed prior to enrollment. This outlines a commitment to the forces for a certain number of years, dependent on the recruiting circumstances. It is typically around 4-6 years.

Signing this contract is an acceptance of the military lifestyle. Members understand that they will frequently be away from family, friends, and home for an extended amount of time, excluding vacation time and leave. Included in this contract is also access to multiple benefits and bonuses for being a member of the military, provided that the member serves the entire term and meets expectations.

Excellent physical condition is required, as an enrollment requirement is to pass a general physical examination. In addition, radio specialists will be required to maintain wiring systems that may require heavy physical efforts. Working in this career will require candidates to be able to concentrate for long periods of time, work under stress, and pay close attention to details. Something major like distinguishing an enemy aircraft from an ally aircraft can save human lives. Technical and communications skills are a must, as frequency specialists will also often be directing aircraft on their flight paths and positions.

There is no post-secondary education required for this position. Persons must be 18 years old or 17 years old with parental consent in order to enroll in the forces. A high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED, is required to enter this position. Basic training takes around 2 months, which is then followed by 4 months of technical training for this occupation. During the basic training period, a military examination called the ASVAB test will be taken by all trainees in order to determine the correct field for them. Scoring high points in the Surveillance and Communications criterion is needed in order to pursue this position.

Technical training involves a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on practice, all provided by the military. Skills learned during this training include operation and maintenance of radar equipment, line installation, wiring techniques, field tactics, and combat communications strategy.

Although not required, iIt would be beneficial to have some interest in math, science, electronics, and computer science, as these fields are very relevant to this career path. All of these subjects can be studied at any two- or four-year post-secondary institution and may prove beneficial for those seeking to advance to leadership ranks.

What is the workplace of a Radio Frequency Specialist like?

Frequency specialists are located both domestically and abroad. They typically work indoors in very high security locations, such as operation centers, command posts, and mobile fields. Specialists may work either on land or on aircraft, and sometimes are dispatched as units to a particular location.

This can be a stressful environment, as oftentimes a specialist is responsible for monitoring high priority aircraft and missiles and must gather delicate intelligence. Personnel must abide by military rules during all times, and working hours can be less than desirable and unpredictable.