RadioTechnician

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amr_emt_907

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Hey I was just wondering what it takes to become a radio technician who works on and installs radios for public safety agencies such has fire and PD and how one gets started in such a career. Ive been looking in to going into such a career for a long while since ive been involved with ham radios, scanners and also use multiple radios on my ambulance at work.


any help or advice is apprciated thanks.
 

fineshot1

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Answers on this are probably going to vary in detail but as a basic you should have a strong background in electronics technology. I went to Devry Tech Institute for the night courses and got my ET (Electronics Technology) degree and graduated back in 1983. Some places will require you to have an FCC License
or the equivelant (NABER certification or similar) and some will not. It will all depend on whom you are seeking employment with. I started out in the computer industry back when main frames was the industry driver and then moved to the celluar industry when that got hot and now I am in the two way radio industry and it is a good job but the pay rate is lower than I am used to so I am doing just ok with it.

Good luck in your endevor.....
 

ILMRadioMan

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As was said, it all depends on who and where.

If you are talking Motorola, the main MSS in your area is "Day Wireless". That being said, there are many other companies that do installs, or sell other brands of radio equipment.

Your best bet might be to go ask some public safety folks where they take their radios to get worked on.

In regards to training, you can start from the bottom and work your way up if you like. You could also work on some electrically driven degree (engineering, tech, etc...)
 

pachanga22

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Or you could join the Navy and get a component level troubleshooting education. At least that's what I got, in 82...
 

b7spectra

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You want to give up all the fun in EMS for radio? Seriously, not only, as everyone has said, you will need a degree in today's world, you also need experience. Talking on and using radio's are one thing, knowing your stuff is another. Get to know your radio shop (where AMR get's their work done) personnel, find out who in your area builds and installs radio's in public safety vehicles and see about getting a part time job there, even as a flunky who does clean up work. Just like in EMS - you start as an EMT and work your way up to Paramedic with training and experience.
 

RKG

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Most of the radio shops I'm familiar with are desperate for qualified techs, in part because of the large amounts of federal homeland security grant money descending from heaven for radio equipment.

However, most shops will require experience and demonstrated expertise in Motorola and related (Zetron, Cimarron and the like) systems and equipment, and a GROL. Some might take a risk on a recent graduate from a serious tech school with a fresh GROL, but most shops can ill afford the effort or cost of OJT.
 

jhooten

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In today's world of SMT and Receiver/transmitters on a chip what exactly does a radio tech do but swap boards or box the radio up and send it off to the depot?
 

pachanga22

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In today's world of SMT and Receiver/transmitters on a chip what exactly does a radio tech do but swap boards or box the radio up and send it off to the depot?

Uh, it's not as simple as all that...
 

APTN

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Engineering

I know some people with degrees in Electrical and Wireless Engineering. I understand knowledge in these fields is very useful.
 

SOFA_KING

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When I was a tech in an MMS it was hard work and you had to know what you were doing...and do it fast. You could not afford to do something wrong with the customer. Repairs were not board swap, and you had to know how to troubleshoot to component level. Your skills of electronics theory, reading schematics, and knowing how to use test equipment were mandatory. Eventually I ended up working in a depot, and that was the place to be IF you had the ability to isolate component failures quickly (beats pulling cables through trucks and cars). No GROL or NABER needed. IMO that does NOTHING to aid you in doing that job. You just have to know your stuff and be able to prove it.

These days those jobs do not usually pay...but what does today?

Phil :cool:
 

WayneH

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These days those jobs do not usually pay...but what does today?
Working for a private comm shop definitely doesn't but if one can get on with a government agency, City or County for example as the Feds typically suck, you can get paid decent. It's getting on that's the hard part. I went the Cell/PCS route and make pretty good wages for being a wireless tech.


I started out in radio comms in San Diego. It was a little easier to get on back then as the RCS was just in the beginning stages and private shops needed installers. Now most shops have muddied their reputations leaving Day the one with most of the contracts, and they're by no means a reputable comm shop; one won't stay there for long unless you can BS well and live off stupid pay. You can always try going by one of their shops and asking though. Otherwise get some basic electrical or electronics experience through a trade school or other means. Getting some kind of certification from ETA International for example will help.

If you really want to get in to radio - that's enjoyable job - get some experience and move out of San Diego.
 

pachanga22

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Ok Besides the 26,5 hours spent at the programming computer because the customer can't make up their mind what they really need/want.
I think you must be more knowledgeable about this than I, so I won't argue.












:roll:
 

swstow

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i would start by finding out who builds the local police dept cars, and if they are looking for help, i got lots of on the job training ( radio and emergency equip repair ) that way, get you foot in the door and get them to pay for you to learn
 

kd7rto

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I think you're looking in the right direction. Technology is an excellent line of work, unless you actually enjoy sitting in an office pushing papers all day, commissioned sales or other work dealing directly with people, or physical labor. IT should be avoided because so many people are already doing it, a better strategy is to develop a unique skills set that few others have.

With 2-way, though, you need to be careful that you're not trying to open a door that's already closed. Cellular has already gotten to the point where subscriber units are throw away items that they just replace, without even trying to repair, and 2-way can't be far behind.

Systems level work is the way of the future. Anyone today who focusses on learning component level troubleshooting may find soon find himself, and his obsolete skills, standing in the unemployment line.
 

jhooten

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I think you must be more knowledgeable about this than I, so I won't argue. :roll:
The department manager saw me with a group of radios one day and asked where I was going. I told him the the contract repair shop. He asked why he had hired me if I could not fix them my self. I would be happy to to the work if I had the proper tools and equipment to do it, was my reply. He said to get him a quote for what was needed.

When I gave management the quote for the hot air rework station, test jigs, service monitor, manuals, spare parts, and other assorted necessities to set up a repair station they got this stunned look and set up a service contract with the depot instead of a local shop.

Open up an XTS or XTL radio and take a look. It ain't like working on an HT500 or a Motran where 90% of the repairs could be done with a VOM and a 100 watt soldering iron.
 

RKG

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In today's world of SMT and Receiver/transmitters on a chip what exactly does a radio tech do but swap boards or box the radio up and send it off to the depot?
A lot. No offence intended, but I gather you've never designed, installed or aligned a voted repeated public safety system and its dispatch console.
 

jhooten

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A lot. No offence intended, but I gather you've never designed, installed or aligned a voted repeated public safety system and its dispatch console.
Nope, Smartnet II with Centracom B&L is as complicated as I have done lately. And then I just installed it. It was designed by a team of guys with fancy framed sheets of paper on the wall that had something about EE printed on them.

Now be honest, how much time do you spend designing systems (engineering work) compared to doing vehicle swaps and repair on the subscriber unit the officer punted down the sidewalk during a foot pursuit (technician work)? I looked to make sure but the thread subject was Radio TECHNICIAN not ENGINEER.

Sorry but I just don't see an entry level tech doing a design job on a voted PS repeater system, Setting levels on the dispatch console maybe, System design, not.
 

pachanga22

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Most two way shops don't have any EEs, and they design, build, and maintain trunked systems, voted systems, etc. all day every day. I've dealt with lots of guys with EE in their title who didn't know chit from shinola about radio.
 
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