July 1952 Radio-Electronics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Electronics,
published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Although the details about
types of electronics schools, locations, specific career goals, funding sources,
etc., are a bit different today than they were in 1952 when this "Selecting the
Right Radio School" article appeared in Radio−Electronics magazine, the
advice offered for consideration is still applicable. You are investing a
significant amount of resources - financially and commitment-wise - so the
prudent approach is to do as much up-front research as possible to help assure
you will not regret your decision. Of course there is always the chance that at
some point you'll opt for a different career - it happens to a lot of people.
One big difference these days is there is probably a lot more in the way of
financial assistance available than back in the 1950s. One of the best ways then
and now is to enlist in the military and take advantage of the schoolroom
training and on the job training (OJT), while collecting a paycheck and having
some of the best medical coverage available.
Selecting the Right Radio School
By E. H. Rietzke*
Congratulations! The fact that you are reading this article tells us one of two
things about you. Either (1) you have decided to enter a radio school, or (2) you
are preparing wisely for the day when you will choose a school. In either event,
you may look forward to the tremendous opportunities awaiting properly trained men
in radio, television, and other electronic pursuits. Your future will be limited
only by the extent of your ambition, initiative, and technical knowledge. This is
the most rapidly expanding industry in America today. To properly trained men it
offers almost unlimited opportunity.
Considering the career you have chosen, you are doubtless equipped with an "engineering"
frame of mind. To some extent, you are probably scientific in your approach to problems.
You carefully line up all the pros and cons. You match factor for factor, advantage
for advantage. This attitude is very valuable to you when you set out to choose
the right school.
First, What About Yourself?
You must know what you have to offer the world of electronics, before you can
determine what electronics can offer you, and what type of school is best for your
Let's start with your schooling.
Check yourself on the following subjects: (How much did you have, and what were
Algebra | Chemistry | Electricity | Geometry | Manual Training
| Mechanical Drawing | Physics | Trigonometry
If you did well in all or most of these subjects, and if you are a high-school
graduate with sufficient credits, you should consider a full-fledged college of
engineering. Not every subject mentioned is required, but if you think you qualify,
find out the entrance requirements of the school you have in mind. If you lack some
subjects, the registrar can advise you how to qualify.
The same qualifications apply for high-level technical schools, except that your
background in cultural subjects would not be important and actual practical experience
in some phase of electronics often takes the place of a high-school diploma. Some
technical schools offer the necessary preparatory courses in mathematics.
At less-advanced levels of training, the qualifications named above become less
important. If you attended specialized schools in the service, it should be of great
value. If you are a radio amateur, or have any other practical experience in radio,
and can handle required assignments, you may be reasonably sure of success. But
the better the school, the more stress it places on previous training. Don't approach
any level of training without the necessary background.
If you are now in high school, ask your guidance counselor what courses you should
take in preparation for further technical training.
Finally, your personal habits have much to do with the case. Can you discipline
yourself, or do you find it difficult to set your mind to study? Remember, no "high
roads," no magic words will put knowledge in your head and skills at your fingertips.
A word of warning: Do not prejudge yourself too harshly and count yourself out
of a radio career too hastily. If you want it, half the battle is won. Communicate
with, or visit the school and discuss what you have to offer with the registrar.
What Type of School?
We are often asked: Shall I go to a full 4-year engineering school, to a technical
institute, or to a trade school? Shall I study at the school or at home?
If you want to be a full-fledged engineer, and if you have the required schooling,
ability, and funds (anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000), seek admission to an accredited
college of engineering.
Not everyone has the time, money, or desire for long-term college study. You
may want to get into your chosen field as quickly as possible, in a really technical
capacity. There are fine technical institutes offering residence advanced technical
training, while omitting the cultural studies. (This does not mean that cultural
pursuits are superfluous. If you choose concentrated training, round out your personality
with broadening activities. Choose a school where you can devote spare time to music,
art, theater, historical appreciation, and so on.)
Such a residence school may cost you from $750 to $1,400 for tuition alone, depending
on how far you pursue your studies. Although such a school gets you into the market
in less than 4 years (about 22 months on the average for the basic course), remember
that the study period is continuous, and does not stop for summer vacations, so
22 months is the equivalent of about 3 years of college.
Graduates of good technical institutes usually enter industry as engineering
aides. Many, by continued spare-time study and experience on the job, advance to
the rank of full-fledged engineer.
If you are already in electronics or radio (or even in some other field) and
cannot afford to give up your job for full-time schooling, consider a good correspondence
school. Properly administered, correspondence (or home study) schools give you thorough
training which takes effect in your work almost immediately. Furthermore, it is
a wonderful opportunity to show your employer the interest and ambition you have.
He can readily follow your progress, since most correspondence schools, if you wish,
furnish progress reports to your employer. In correspondence training, you proceed
as rapidly as you wish. You acquire the will-power training so useful in later life.
You are your own master. If you invest your free time, you gain. If you hold back,
Another advantage of correspondence schools is the relatively small cost. A high-level
technical home-study course may cost $200 to $400, depending, again, on how far
You may not have the educational background for admission to an engineering college
or a technical institute. However, because the field of electronics is so vast,
there are opportunities for employment at all levels. There are good trade schools
offering artisan-level courses, both in residence and by correspondence. The residence
trade school offers the advantage of working with equipment while you study. Residence
hade schools usually graduate you in less than a year, well-qualified for production
assembly work and servicing relatively simple equipment under supervision. Since
correspondence study is usually a spare-time activity, it takes longer to reach
the same degree of skill. Correspondence schools offering beginners' courses supply
kits of parts which give you experience in assembly, testing, and trouble shooting
on comparatively simple equipment.
There may be a regular radio school, or a technical institute which offers night
classes in your own community. Your city schools may offer trade courses on a basic
level. Keep in mind the time and money you have available and the caliber of instruction
required to help you attain the level you seek in electronics. You will command
respect in industry in proportion to the level of your training and skills.
Now, you may ask, this is all very well, but how do I learn the level of the
school I am considering? If you cannot get reliable information from radio-TV electronics
people in your city, ask the school for a sample lesson. Though as a beginner, you
might more easily understand an "introductory" lesson, you would find it rather
unrevealing. Specify Lesson V, for example. Look it over, see if it is geared to
your level. Check first before you find yourself enrolled in a course that is too
elementary, or, on the other hand, too difficult.
How Old Is the School?
It is always wise to deal with an established organization. Given two schools
equal in all other respects - it would be reasonable to select the older school,
for it usually has established the close relations with industry so helpful in placing
graduates. Its greater prestige will help you after graduation.
Faculty and Facilities
A school stands or falls on the caliber of its teachers and its facilities. Carefully
inspect the roster of faculty members listed in a school's catalog. Under each name
should be his colleges attended, and his degrees attained. These, together with
the indicated industrial experience, serve as a reliable guide. Supplement what
you learn from the catalog with information from well-placed electronics people
in your city. The chief engineer of a local radio or TV station is a good man to
ask. So are other electronics experts. They are better prepared than you to judge
some of the faculty and equipment claims in a catalog. Get their opinions on the
modernity of the school's facilities and techniques. Is it constantly revising its
curricula and equipment as new discoveries appear, or does it still operate as it
did back in the days when it was founded, when radio was just a new miracle? If
you visit the school, take a good look at its library. Is it large? Are its contents
broad and up-to-date? This should not be underestimated.
The Courses Offered
Study the catalogs of several schools. A complete catalog should list and describe
the courses offered. Do they cover the specific fields you are most interested in?
Are the specific courses amply treated? What do you know about the caliber of the
men who prepared them? Are the courses being constantly brought up-to-date in light
of new developments? Will you get personal instruction? Are you permitted to proceed
at your own rate of speed? Or are you grouped in heterogeneous classes? Some individuals
work better on their own, others may prefer being grouped.
If you are choosing a correspondence school, find out how your lessons will be
handled. Will your examination papers come back to you after careful individual
servicing, with suggestions for improvement, explanations, advice? Or do they come
back after a merely mechanical grading, leaving you still in the dark as to what
you have accomplished in a specific lesson? Are the school's examinations sufficiently
comprehensive to determine whether or not you really know the subjects studied?
Is School Accredited? By Whom?
There are educational and technical associations which make studies of schools,
their faculties and facilities. For example, the Engineers' Council for Professional
Development is the official accrediting agency for engineering colleges and technical
institutes. Is the school accredited by E.C.P.D.? Or is it accredited by the National
Council of Technical Schools? Or, if a correspondence school, by the National Home
Study Council? These are the leading accrediting agencies in their fields.
If not, what groups have accredited the school in which you are interested? You
cannot minimize accreditation. Accreditation is one of the most important factors
in selecting a school, because it is a major influence on the· thinking of your
prospective employer when he evaluates your educational and experience record.
What Is Industry's Opinion?
In the last analysis, industry passes final judgment on the worth of a school
in hiring its personnel. What can the school tell you about some of the firms which
have hired its graduates? Is there further evidence available, such as the type
and size of organizations which use the school's courses for the training of their
What about employment aid?
A technical school should be able to offer concrete assistance in finding you
employment after graduation. You should look for some form of guidance or placement
service in the school's catalog or prospectus. Be wary, however, of wild promises
of guaranteed jobs. Ethical schools do not make rash promises of any kind. No school
can guarantee jobs to graduates, although at the present time the top schools have
more demands for graduates than they can fill.
What About the School's Location?
Is it well-situated in its city? Is it convenient to basic needs such as transit,
entertainment, shopping, cultural activities (referred to above as so important)?
Is it in a quiet area, conducive to undisturbed study? Is it convenient to radio
stations and other electronic installations? Is housing readily available, and does
the school offer you any assistance in finding housing?
What About Tuition Fees?
Are fees in line with your ability to pay and the quality of the training you
will receive? Fees can be too low - that is, so low that the school cannot possibly
offer you the quality of training that will make you really employable. Are extra
fees clearly stated? (Books, laboratory fees, student activities, etc.) This should
be clearly stated in the catalog.
To Sum Up
You are headed for a career in which scientific methods are vital, both in work
and thought. Just as you apply known laws and principles to solving electronic,
television, or radio problems, you should apply fixed rules and techniques in choosing
the school which will provide you with thorough professional training. You want
a career which will bring you lasting happiness, with financial return in line with
your energy, ambition, and ability. Above all, remember that the expanding electronics
industry is tremendously complex. No school can turn you out with a few easy lessons
or in a few short weeks, truly competent to enter this industry with real hope of
success. Get the very best education you can afford and take the time to do it right.
* Founder and President of Capitol Radio Engineering Institute.
Posted June 17, 2022