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My Future in RF - RF Cafe Forums

Because of the high maintenance needed to monitor and filter spammers from the RF Cafe Forums, I decided that it would be best to just archive the pages to make all the good information posted in the past available for review. It is unfortunate that the scumbags of the world ruin an otherwise useful venue for people wanting to exchanged useful ideas and views. It seems that the more formal social media like Facebook pretty much dominate this kind of venue anymore anyway, so if you would like to post something on RF Cafe's Facebook page, please do.

Below are all of the forum threads, including all the responses to the original posts.


eJ
Post subject: My Future in RF Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 11:54 am
I want to work in RF/Analog design and have a BSEE with no (related) work experience. I am considering getting my masters and specializing in RF/Analog/Mixed-Signal IC design. I don't feel that my undergrad program gave me the skill set to do design in this area. Ive run into questions that I would like to bounce off everyone:

What are the chances that I will get hired right now (BSEE) and developed into a design engineer by a company?

If a masters is needed, what will the job prospects be like in 3-4 years?

If a masters is needed, what type of program should I get into?

My grades in undergrad were good but not spectacular, GREs average for tier II schools admissions, and undergrad school was pretty weak in analog design (although my senior project was RF). -- what are my prospects for admission to a good grad school?


I have been reading these forums and getting very depressed. It seems like if I follow my true interests and try to do RF design I will be setting myself up for a lifetime of disappointment. Hopefully there are rf engineers out there happy with their jobs that dont feel the need to vent on these forums and so i only hear the bad. your thoughts?

Thanks,
Eric


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IR
Post subject: Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 2:05 pm

Site Admin


Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:02 pm
Posts: 373
Location: Germany
Hello Eric,

Your situation is a common one, and it is hard to answer on the questions you described. You will get many thoughts from different people, but at the end of the day, the best way depends on you, your wills and your skills.

I personally don't believe in pursuing school right after BSEE, because you need the required time to get experienced in an engineering job. Then you will have a more rational vision about your future way. You are now after your BSEE and you think that you don't have required knowledge to do RF design. You are absolutely right! Furthermore, the studies weren't meant to give you the required knowledge, because this knowlege is gained only in the industry. Once you start working you will see how this turns into reality. Now, if you go Immediately for Master's then you don't know what the industry is alike: How would you know that RF/Analogue is the right field for you?

No one can tell you what the industry will be like in 3-4 years. But that shouldn't worry you at all, because if you had asked this question before you started your BSEE you would get the same answer. If one would say that he knows the answer then he is either a liar or stupid or both.

Good luck!!

_________________
Best regards,

- IR


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eJ
Post subject: Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 2:33 pm
Thanks IR,

My plan (in a perfect world) is/was to get an RF job, see if I like it, learn more about my interests and then perhaps pursue grad school. The problem is after 2 years of looking I've only gotten one RF interview and it didnt work out. One problem is I live in Michigan and there just isn't much RF work here. If I lived in Silicon Valley, things might have been different. Second, everyone i went up against at that interview had a masters. Third, every job ive ever applied to requires a bachelors, prefers a masters. Which makes me wonder if a BS will cut it for entry level.

I have a little over a year of experience in power engineering. I took the job so i could 'be an engineer' and also pay back some loans. but I cant stand it and need to move on. This experience will count for something im sure, but nevertheless it is a completely unrelated discipline to rf (sans transmission line theory which i dont use)

Thanks for the advice


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Guest
Post subject: Similar experience to yoursPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2005 10:20 am
I completely agree about needing a Masters to really get anywhere. I was in the same boat as you are in, first job at a place that didn't provide any practical experience for what I wanted to do. If you stay there too long, you will get pigeon-holed. I truly believe that your first or second job out of school is going to set the tone for the rest of your career. Get into something related to your interests as fast as you can.

Now the rest of this is based on what I've experienced:

The problem with getting into any job is the need to have had previous experience to begin with. Unless they were lucky enough to be assigned to this type of work in the military, as a technician, or a co-op, most people fresh out of school won't have the qualifications that today's employers want. If you can find a place that is willing to take you entry-level in the type of work you want to be doing, great. I think your prospects of getting that job are a lot better with a Masters. If you get offered a job with a Bachelors and little or no applicable experience, it will most likely be in Test. Some people may like Test, but I don't, so I started taking grad classes. On the bright side, Test does give you good hands-on and insight that can make those grad classes alot easier to understand, and you will have an advantage (knowledge-wise and on your resume) over your competition that went straight through school without the work experience. In this economy, you are going to need an edge, whether it's a stellar GPA, graduating from a top school, work experience, or knowing someone. After working in industry for over 6 years, I still got asked what my undergrad GPA was in a recent interview. And because there are a lot of people who get together in groups to cheat in grad programs (like mine), you had better work twice as hard because you are competing against them for grades as well. So, if this is the route you want to pursue, you've got to really want it.

If you can find a roommate, the Silicon Valley or Southern Cal might be a good way to go to find entry-level. Otherwise, you will be living very poorly in those places. But get the job first, then move, because entry-level can be hard to get.

The funny thing is, I work in the semiconductor industry, and I'm considering a switch to Power so that I can have a more stable job environment (plus get away from the unethical, backstabbing A-holes in the semiconductor world). Is Power that bad? I hope it's better in the other industries.


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eJ
Post subject: Posted: Sun Sep 11, 2005 8:47 pm
I dont think its that power is that bad, its just really not for me. It was my least favorite subject in school, but i took it anyway b/c i knew there were jobs in it.

The thing is power is not as central to ee curriculum as it used to be and the old guys retiring in the field just arent being replaced fast enough, so there is a very lucrative future there. So if you like it, I say go for it.


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silver mica
Post subject: Re: My Future in RFPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 3:43 pm

Lieutenant

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 11:53 pm
Posts: 2
eJ wrote:
I want to work in RF/Analog design and have a BSEE with no (related) work experience. I am considering getting my masters and specializing in RF/Analog/Mixed-Signal IC design. I don't feel that my undergrad program gave me the skill set to do design in this area. Ive run into questions that I would like to bounce off everyone:

What are the chances that I will get hired right now (BSEE) and developed into a design engineer by a company?

If a masters is needed, what will the job prospects be like in 3-4 years?

If a masters is needed, what type of program should I get into?

My grades in undergrad were good but not spectacular, GREs average for tier II schools admissions, and undergrad school was pretty weak in analog design (although my senior project was RF). -- what are my prospects for admission to a good grad school?


I have been reading these forums and getting very depressed. It seems like if I follow my true interests and try to do RF design I will be setting myself up for a lifetime of disappointment. Hopefully there are rf engineers out there happy with their jobs that dont feel the need to vent on these forums and so i only hear the bad. your thoughts?

Thanks,
Eric


Are you okay with working only in manufacturing? That's where you will end up with just a BSEE.


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eJ
Post subject: Posted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 5:12 pm
No, I definitely want to do design, not manufacturing. What I'm learning is that more than likely I am going to need a master's to do design. It seems the chances of being trained to do design having only a bachelor's are very small.

So now my question is: Should I try to work in the field for a 2-3 years and then go for a masters...or just go to grad school right now?


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silver mica
Post subject: Posted: Tue Sep 13, 2005 11:39 pm

Lieutenant

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 11:53 pm
Posts: 2
I'd go straight for the masters because industry is a bit hung up on needing a PhD to do any design stuff.


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anox
Post subject: opinionPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2005 2:15 pm
It is not true IMHO that you require a Masters to do design and that companies will only hire you in manufacturing with a BSEE.
Many engineers I have workied in the past have been design engineers with a BSEE (the bulk of them). Less have a MSEE and few have a PHd.

It is difficult to find a job when times are bad in design,and manufacturing! Companies will hire 10+ years esperienced engineers and PHds first, 5+years expereince and MSEEs second, newbies and BSEEs last.

We all do the same thing but have different level of experience and pay. Smart BSEE eventually can get better pay than even PHds. I would be careful of going for a higher degree for the money. Do a financial computation (not easy!) of the return for your money. Answer the question: Does the time spent with lost wages and investments for a higher pay later makes sense?
>>> GET HIGHER DEGREE IF ONLY IT WILL BE FUN FOR YOU

As for having a company "develop you" ?!! as a design engineer.
AH AH AH.
Unfortunately: Companies do not develop people! They expect that employees will look for themselves.
Also I have countless examples of engineers which have been promised something like: "We will move you into design as soon as practical/possible..." I haven't seen a company follow through with this: The company needs you where it hires you.
>>> DO NOT GET HIRED FOR A JOB OTHER THAN THE ONE YOU ULTIMATELY WANT

I agree with a previous post to be VERY careful to who your manager will be. And what you will be expected to do. Where in the company structure you will fit. etc... Before taking any offer. After it will be too late to complain. ANd also: Don't assume that the company is dealing fairly with current or prospective employees (if it sounds too good to be true...)
>>> DOUBLE CHECK THE JOB OFFER AND DISCUSS WITH YOUR MANAGER PRIOR TO ACCEPTING


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guest
Post subject: guestPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2005 11:34 am
this is how to approach this:

do the degree but do it because you want too.

learn as much as you can and do extra work on the side: extra projects, extra designs and work very hard. then show the employer you truly want to be in this field and really want to do a great job.

this will seperate you from everyone else.

every school now has courses in mmic and rfic design sicne many of the people from industry are teaching those courses on the side, since the economy is so bad -- how are you going to seperate yourself from them.

there is no guarantee though -- but getting an MS and PhD means nothing, i have met people in industry with NO BSEE that can run circles around a PhD.

in life do things because you love them and want to do them. employers want workers who want to do the work and well roudned people.


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RF Engineer w/experience
Post subject: want to be an RF engineerPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 9:47 am
hello EJ,
One thing, buy Chris Boswick's RF Design book. It will give you the fundamentals that are needed in the industry. While higher frequencies above 4 GHz get more tricky, nothing is possible if given the opportunity. Now to my ranting,
Engineers in general who have had luck of getting RF or other good engineering experience with companies with great senior engineers and computer-aided tools helps tremendously.
The problem of entering any job with NO direct experience is that the engineer taking the interview wants to hammer that point. It also took many years for that engineer to gain that experience. Why, because it is how the system works. If you are smart, you can get any knowledge you want, however, somebody at the company you are interviewing needs to take a chance on your knowledge and willingness to quickly learn. These jobs are scarce right now. Most postings want people working for the best companies already. Anyway, sorry to hammer the negative points, but this industry truly sucks as is my experience working in it for over 10 years. Good luck to you and hope you find a nice guy who will give you a chance.


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fhameed
Post subject: Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 3:15 pm

Lieutenant

Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2005 6:53 am
Posts: 3
Location: Karachi
Hello everyone

i'm gonna be a grad soon and i come from Pakistan.

Recently their has been a lot of investment going on in our country with WARIDTEL and TELENOR coming besides the old school and de regulation of National Carrier.

Anyways

My Question

1.Howz the field of RF Analysis/Optimization(RF Engineer )..is it a good carrier move in the coming years to come.

I'll soon get my bs computer engineering degree and my intrest are in cisco engineering and telecom.

I've 1 year of experience in IT btw ranging from linux servers 2 programming 2 transcrption flash animation client relationship management.I'm all out for an over drive.

I was thinking of taking the opportunity with RF in my country ..get the job get stable..work on ur cisco certs besides..with time move on 2 an MBA.....i know that's a long shot

Please comment /advise

Thanks

Fahad

_________________
Fahad Hameed


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Joel-Tang
Post subject: RF DesignPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:04 am

Lieutenant


Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2005 10:18 am
Posts: 3
A very good idea is to pursue your interest in RF by home projects regardless of your employment or education. (try HAM radio experimenting) This will do a few things for you.

It will develop your knowledge of course, but will also give you an idea of what it is about design you like. What motivates you and such.
These things are the very key to your success.

Believe me, if it weren't for the fact that I utterly love RF design, I would never have been able to be a designer.
However, be prepared to be suprised about what it is you like. I never intended to do RF. I was hoping to get into digital design, and realized I liked RF more.

I know at least 5 people that do not have a masters degree or any degree for that matter that are RF designers for companies around the world. A couple of years in tech school gave them the ability to learn how to learn everything they needed. By all means, get your masters later, but this is just to point out that education is a part of your RF tool box. This gets bigger regardless of your background if you pursue your interest.

At all costs get employed by an RF company. If not as a designer, as a technician/technologist. Experienced RF designers are hard to find, and once an employer sees that one of its employees are capable they are normally more than happy to let you help them move ahead. Obviously, this doesn't happen overnight. Give yourself 2 years and you'll probably make it in 1. But bank on working towards your goal for 2 years to prepare yourself for a tough ride (un-paid overtime, etc..).
Oh yeah, be ready to move around the world because this business fluctuates. I'm on my third move in an 8 year period.

Your greatest enemy in this situation is your ego. Never let any job seem to small to deserve your best work.

Good Luck!


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guest
Post subject: Manufacturing WorkPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 6:05 pm
What is all this talk about manufacturing work ?

What is that ? Test ? Product Engineering ? Applications Engineering ?

I am confused, what a RF Manufacturing Engineer is ? Technician Work ?

Help me out here.

Qualcomm hires BSEE/MSEE to be RFIC Design Engineers, by the way everyone, it might be more competitive now than before, but that fact remains.


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guest
Post subject: RF EngineerPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:26 pm
hello friends,
i did my Master's majoring in RF&Microwave Engineering,i have been searching for jobs in RF area since 2 months and i couldn't really get any positive replies so far,what is it that we have to do,to get a job in this field.



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guest
Post subject: guestPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:55 pm
where are you located ? city, country?

school ? thesis topic ? specialization ?


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Joel-Tang
Post subject: Re: Manufacturing WorkPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:31 am

Lieutenant


Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2005 10:18 am
Posts: 3
guest wrote:
What is all this talk about manufacturing work ?

What is that ? Test ? Product Engineering ? Applications Engineering ?

I am confused, what a RF Manufacturing Engineer is ? Technician Work ?

Help me out here.

Qualcomm hires BSEE/MSEE to be RFIC Design Engineers, by the way everyone, it might be more competitive now than before, but that fact remains.


It always entertains me when someone gets all in a mess when they hear about non-engineers doing engineering design work.
Obviously, your facts come from your limited experience, as does mine. That doesn't make either un-true.


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tomw
Post subject: Re: RF EngineerPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 1:25 pm

Lieutenant

Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:12 pm
Posts: 2
Location: San Antonio, TX
guest wrote:
hello friends,
i did my Master's majoring in RF&Microwave Engineering,i have been searching for jobs in RF area since 2 months and i couldn't really get any positive replies so far,what is it that we have to do,to get a job in this field.



I’ve been very a very fortunate RF engineer. Next month I will retire from a forty-year engineering career, more than 95 percent of which was RF engineering or RF related work. In my case my I think my fortune was a result of enthusiasm for all things RF. I have a BSEE and some graduate work toward an MSEE, but I was a mediocre student. I have no family members involved in technology of any sort and did not know anyone involved in RF work when I started work toward my BSEE. But, even then I was enthusiastic about RF technology. At age 13 I obtained an amateur radio license. During high school I built my own transmitters, receivers, and antennas. During college I landed a part time job at an electronic warfare company as an engineering aide in the RF receiver lab. That job was won on enthusiasm alone and led to a marvelous career in circuit design and systems work for several electronic warfare, radar, and RF communications companies.

In my junior year at college a schoolmate heard about the engineering aide job opening at the electronic warfare company and suggested that we both apply. I was pretty busy trying to keep my head above water academically, but the job sounded really interesting. We both applied and we both received interview offers. Unknown to us, others may have applied too and been interviewed as well.

I went to the interview not knowing a thing about what the job entailed, except that it had to do with RF receivers. But, as soon as I saw the laboratory area, the test equipment, and the prototype hardware I was “off the wall”. I asked questions and more questions then marveled out loud at the Hewlett Packard sweep generators and the Tektronix oscilloscopes. I was so excited I just beamed at everyone I was introduced to. With a GPA of 2.3 I didn’t think I would get the job, but I did! My schoolmate did not get an offer. He had a higher GPA, and an amateur radio license as well, but he did not exude enthusiasm. Needless to say he was not happy for me either.


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eJ
Post subject: UpdatePosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 5:40 pm

Lieutenant

Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 5:27 pm
Posts: 1
It’s been a while since any activity on this thread, but in case anyone is interested...

After a lot of thought and research I decided to go to grad school for RF. In the fall I will start my masters program at Georgia Tech.

Thanks to all for the advice, it helped.
Eric




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