Career change to Public Safety Communications

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Masonrm

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May 26, 2014
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Hello,

As the title says I am looking to make a move into this field and am looking for any advice you guys might have to offer. In the Army I was a MOS 31U (now 25U) Signals Systems support specialist. I worked on mostly FM (SINCGARS) and UHF (EPLRS for the Army SADL for the Air Force). After the military I worked for Raytheon (specifically for the business group that lost LARICS) as a field Engineer on the EPLRS program for 7 years. I have a lot of experience troubleshooting RF voice/data networks and installation of equipment into all kinds of vehicles, including some UAV's

I am about to take the APCO two-way technician test as it is required for a state job I was looking into but am curious if there are some other certs/training in the Inland Empire worth looking into. I am new to Southern California and am still figuring this place out. Also I am very new to the Civilian side of comms, does anyone think there is a field position that might be a better fit I'd love to hear about it.

Thanks in advance!--Ray
 

Masonrm

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May 26, 2014
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Corona, CA
Thanks, I'll look into it for sure. I have been curious if Motorola offered any kind of training to the public or not, I figured they might but only to agencies they were under contract with.
 

zz0468

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Check the HR departments for Riverside and San Bernardino Counties for any openings. Also check the City of Corona. They may have an opening coming up soon. It sounds like you have some good background, but be aware...

I have interviewed dozens of applicants coming out of the military for various positions, and a large percentage of them couldn't qualify. It's not that they lacked knowledge, it's that much of the military experience they did have simply wasn't applicable. For positions that aren't trainee positions, but require someone who can just jump in and hit the ground running, "generic" radio experience may not cut it.

In general, the quality of applicants for radio tech positions in the Inland Empire is very low. You may have an edge with your technical background, but will likely need to pick up knowledge about trunking systems, simulcast,and IP networking. Learn as much as you can about Motorola 7.x P25 trunking so you can answer questions at an interview.
 

Masonrm

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May 26, 2014
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Location
Corona, CA
Check the HR departments for Riverside and San Bernardino Counties for any openings. Also check the City of Corona. They may have an opening coming up soon. It sounds like you have some good background, but be aware...

I have interviewed dozens of applicants coming out of the military for various positions, and a large percentage of them couldn't qualify. It's not that they lacked knowledge, it's that much of the military experience they did have simply wasn't applicable. For positions that aren't trainee positions, but require someone who can just jump in and hit the ground running, "generic" radio experience may not cut it.

In general, the quality of applicants for radio tech positions in the Inland Empire is very low. You may have an edge with your technical background, but will likely need to pick up knowledge about trunking systems, simulcast,and IP networking. Learn as much as you can about Motorola 7.x P25 trunking so you can answer questions at an interview.
Thanks for the reply, I appreciate the insight. I'll start watching the city and county pages a bit more. I do honestly think that I have more than generic install/operate radio experience, but I definitely agree that military stuff doesn't transition well in this case. I have started reading as much as possible about P25 and will add the 7.x and simulcast in there as well. I don't have any experience with any of that.

I am pretty decent with IP networking as the radio was a data only system. I'm hoping to find a position where I can utilize this. We had some initiatives to provide operation center services to mobile users. Basically extending VOIP, email, web and server access to mobile users. Our RF and software engineers designed a service that was basically RIPv2 over the air and then we would go to OSPF when we hit a router in the operations center.

I'm in a weird spot where I can kind of "start over" career wise and I have no problems taking a trainee position as long as there is growth and progression within the organization. I figured I would give this a go and see where it leads. Thanks again for the information, I appreciate it.
 

jim202

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You might want to look for your local 2 way service shop and see if you can wrangle your way into working for them. The best way to get any experience is to get in there and have one of the older people take you under their wing and mentor you. Just going to a school is not going to make you into a public safety radio geek.

The phone calls in the middle of the night by some dispatcher calling to say my headset doesn't work can drag a person down real fast. Some police dept. has a vehicle with the control head with sticky buttons. They didn't tell you that 2 weeks ago this same control head had coffee spilled over it.

Your working on some piece of equipment in the dispatch room and the phone rings with a 911 multi vehicle pile up on the road. You have to stop what your doing and very gingerly get yourself out of the mad house that just exploded around you.

Not everyone can get use to the way things work in public safety. You go to work on what ever you were called there to do and then wham. The room explodes into a mad house. You have to be there to really to get the true meaning of a mad house in the dispatch center. It takes in some cases years to learn when you just have to stop and get out of the way. It goes from almost a dead calm to the end of the super bowl game in about 3 seconds.

Unless your mentor can walk you through the steps when things hit the fan, you might never learn it on your own. If your trying to cut over a radio control circuit from one radio or console to another, it takes careful planning on your part to have everything ready. Get the old wires ready to pull off the punch down block and the new wires ready. I generally give the dispatcher I am working with a portable radio. Once I am ready to make the swap. I call the dispatcher and say which circuit I am playing with. The dispatcher will either say OK and move anyone on that circuit to a secondary one or just say go ahead if it isn't a primary channel. Generally within about 15 seconds, the wires can be cut over and that circuit is back in service.

Maybe your starting to get the idea that it takes time to learn the ropes of how you and the dispatch center have to work together. It really is easy, but someone has to take you under their wing for a while. Trying to find a company and a mentor is the real challenge. Once you have some time under your belt, the job positions are easy to get. It's just that first one to get your foot in the door and a company willing to give a rookie a chance.
 

prcguy

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Jun 30, 2006
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10,552
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So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
Do you have any Satcom experience?
prcguy


Hello,

As the title says I am looking to make a move into this field and am looking for any advice you guys might have to offer. In the Army I was a MOS 31U (now 25U) Signals Systems support specialist. I worked on mostly FM (SINCGARS) and UHF (EPLRS for the Army SADL for the Air Force). After the military I worked for Raytheon (specifically for the business group that lost LARICS) as a field Engineer on the EPLRS program for 7 years. I have a lot of experience troubleshooting RF voice/data networks and installation of equipment into all kinds of vehicles, including some UAV's

I am about to take the APCO two-way technician test as it is required for a state job I was looking into but am curious if there are some other certs/training in the Inland Empire worth looking into. I am new to Southern California and am still figuring this place out. Also I am very new to the Civilian side of comms, does anyone think there is a field position that might be a better fit I'd love to hear about it.

Thanks in advance!--Ray
 

Masonrm

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Joined
May 26, 2014
Messages
7
Location
Corona, CA
It's been a while but I have worked with Shadowfire/Spitfire TACSAT radio's. They are Raytheon products as well and we partnered with them a few times for various projects.
 
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