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Author Topic: Career Opportunities & Requirements in Communications?  (Read 4847 times)
K6BRN
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Posts: 450




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« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2017, 12:49:48 AM »

Adam:

Saw your latest post right after I posted my reply - probably "doubled", as I took some time to write it.

Any professional career, like engineering, law or medicine, requires an intense educational period before you can practice.  Its hard, always, for everybody, no matter what they later claim.  That intense educational period provides the basis for success and financial security later in life.  Don't be afraid of it, embrace it.  And there is one small "secret"...

The person who "wins" in life (there are many winners and losers) is often NOT the "best", not the "brightest", nor the most popular...  not the one who goes to the best school. they are the person who absolutely refuses to give up when pursuing a goal.  When blocked at one turn, they will follow another.  When all is hopeless and the world is agonizingly grey, they will find the willpower to painfully put one foot in front of the other and walk the more difficult path.  They are the ones, who when advised to quit, get pissed off enough to redouble their efforts and are flexible enough to realize that there is always an alternate path to their goal, regardless of the roadblock sitting in front of them or the hardships thay have to walk through.

Later, these are often the most creative, productive and successful people in their fields. Personal adversity seems to be a particularly effective blast furnace that has forged some of the most outstanding (historical figures and) professionals I know.  I've has to walk some of that path myself.  It was a difficult choice - glad I made it.

There are many jobs labelled as "engineering".  But most carry that label as a euphemism (its not real, but a courtesy).  You can settle for less - but that is the choice you will need to live with for the rest of your life.  Both can work.  Why not aim high, first?

Brian - K6BRN


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G3RZP
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Posts: 8123




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« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2017, 07:30:47 AM »

At the age of 11, my aim in life was to be a radio engineer. I've never regretted it, although over here at least, engineering is generally a nice occupation for those of private means! From 1979 to being laid off in 2011 at age 64 with 18 months pay, I worked in the semiconductor industry in RF applications and systems design and in later years, also some standardisation work - I chaired the European standards committee on wireless medical applications, as well as attending ITU Study Group 1 and its working parties on behalf of the IARU.  After I was laid off, I got a very profitable 2 year contract to continue doing the standardisation work for the US part of the company, as they shut the UK operation down completely. I never went to University, but I could never get to the position I got to today without a Masters.

To get into RF design these days, you really need a Masters in electronics, and one area which does pay well is RF semiconductor design. I know a guy who has retired from it at age 55: when he retired he was pulling down over $350k a year, which even living in Aptos CA, is not exactly breadline wages. But he was very good at his job and worked for a small  company with none of the BS of big ones. There's a ham I know in San Marcos who is slightly older than I am (I was 70 last May) and is a RF consultant: I know some 10 years back he cut back on his work to spend more time with family and had his income drop to around $200k. He never went to University, either. But again, you wouldn't get the start now without a degree except perhaps in  small firm.

I found that the ham radio knowledge translated over quite readily into the professional area, and having my call sign on the business card opened up many doors where the usual sales and marketing guys  just couldn't get in.
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KG4NEL
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Posts: 500




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« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2017, 08:48:54 AM »

I prefer to keep my hobbies and what pays the bills separately.

I'm going back to school, but it's for healthcare, nothing RF related.

Whatever works for you.  It doesn’t sound profound, and sort of an adaptation of the wisdom of not buying investments at your place of employment.  But, health care is a fine career field.

I've never been at a publicly-traded firm, but I'd probably take advantage of that  Tongue

I don't know how old the OP is, but if one could go into business for themselves, I'd highly recommend that - I'm 31, and most of my friends who are in engineering who took the office drone path aren't exactly solving the kind of stimulating problems described.

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KC8KTN
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« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2017, 09:52:14 AM »

Great post very interesting. Good job. Good luck in your pursuits. Take care. Be safe. 73s
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K9MHZ
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Posts: 1436




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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2017, 11:44:10 AM »

BRN and RZP....Very fine posts above.  Having an engineering degree but never having worked as an engineer, I guess I’m a “tweener” with the viewpoints on what constitutes a worthwhile educational pursuit.  But one thing I’ve learned, you will never regret having worked hard for a goal loftier than what most other people are willing to pursue.  The opposite is not true, and what a terrible thing it is to look at your aged face in the mirror and wonder why you didn’t achieve more while you still could.

Companies today are so happy to have degreed (real) engineers applying for positions, that you’ll probably be looked upon very favorably, even if a job opening isn’t a perfect fit.  And again, especially with STEM degrees today, there is no downside to applying yourself toward something most other people could never do.

Good discussion, and good luck!
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N0YXB
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Posts: 1120




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« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2017, 12:00:00 PM »

Companies today are so happy to have degreed (real) engineers applying for positions, that you’ll probably be looked upon very favorably, even if a job opening isn’t a perfect fit.  And again, especially with STEM degrees today, there is no downside to applying yourself toward something most other people could never do.


+1.

This is true where I work. Although many of the 'Engineer' titled jobs in my organization do not require an engineering degree, we love it when they apply.
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K6BRN
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Posts: 450




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« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2017, 01:09:09 PM »

Peter (G3RZP):

One of the finest RF/Comms engineers I've worked with was a non-degreed ex-RAF Brit.  Jack was much older than me, a patient mentor and a wonderful person.  He has been retired for some time and now and owns and runs a private airfield in California - back to his roots - aviation, which he always loved.  You are very correct - making it in engineering today requires the proper degrees in addition to talent.  Also second your remarks about analog/RF, mixed signal and digital semiconductor designers - lots of demand, challenging work and good pay.

BTW - Currently in Edinburgh visiting my son at University.  Lovely weather we're having Smiley  Have always enjoyed working with the Brits on projects - never know them to give up, always a cynical and fun sense of humor, good to have a pint with after work. And just a great people.

Hagop (KG4NEL):

If your friends are really "office drones", they are way too comfortable and need to get moving.  Or not.  Some people do boring well and like it.  Not me.  I've worked at several companies, all publicly traded and with the deep pockets needed to do deep research, take on massively challenging projects and change their industry.  Only once have I felt it necessary to switch jobs because the company was too "stuck in the mud" and uninteresting.  Mostly, its your job and you make the fundamental decision on how challenging to make it.  In particular, you must be willing to take major chances with your career, push to get onto interesting projects, accept nothing other than project success and above all, learn to communicate what your ideas and progress are, through writing, public speaking and (funny as it sounds) gripping Powerpoint presentations.  Blow off the communications skills, sit in your cube, and you be in exactly the boring situation your office drone friends are in.   Push to make things interesting and it will be like surfing a a giant wave - an incredible thrill with your professional survival depending on your skill, and a little luck.  Especially when you convince your company to invest a great deal of capital on a project you proposed and then have to lead.  That's when all eyes point to you, with hope and a a little fear, asking "what's next?" and you realize more jobs than yours are riding on success.  Better have an answer ready - because now you are in charge.

Brian - K6BRN

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KC2NLT
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Posts: 91




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« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2017, 11:09:53 PM »

Thank you all for the great responses. Some were thoughtful, others were inspiring, while others were informative and helpful. This is a great community.

So my goal now should be to apply for a program or university that offers a Masters degree in electronic engineering? No specialization in communications system engineering or the like, just electronic engineering?
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K6BRN
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Posts: 450




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« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2017, 08:28:50 AM »

No....

An accredited Master's Degree program in Electrical Engineering would be the best and open a lot of doors.  It is generally a hiring manager's preferred degree in this field - more consistency in the graduates.

" Electronic Engineering" is a different degree, often from unaccredited schools and often taught at a technician level (non-professional), whereas Electrical Engineering degree programs are almost universally accredited and recognized as a professional degree - do your homework before applying and find out first.  At some schools its OK, some, not.

You have so many good engineering schools in New York, Connecticut and Masachusetts, there should be no problem finding one.  Avoid for-profit schools as dead-ends.

Decent choices very near you inlude SUNY Stony Brook (right next door to you, literally) which has a comparatively small and intimate program, NYU in the City and UCONN in Storrs, Connecticut.  And many, many others.  All can get you where you've said you'd like to be.

Brian - K6BRN

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N1CZ
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Posts: 23




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« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2017, 09:28:29 AM »

No....

An accredited Master's Degree program in Electrical Engineering would be the best and open a lot of doors.  It is generally a hiring manager's preferred degree in this field - more consistency in the graduates.

" Electronic Engineering" is a different degree, often from unaccredited schools and often taught at a technician level (non-professional), whereas Electrical Engineering degree programs are almost universally accredited and recognized as a professional degree - do your homework before applying and find out first.  At some schools its OK, some, not.

You have so many good engineering schools in New York, Connecticut and Masachusetts, there should be no problem finding one.  Avoid for-profit schools as dead-ends.

Decent choices very near you inlude SUNY Stony Brook (right next door to you, literally) which has a comparatively small and intimate program, NYU in the City and UCONN in Storrs, Connecticut.  And many, many others.  All can get you where you've said you'd like to be.

Brian - K6BRN
This. Everything he says here
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KC2NLT
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Posts: 91




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« Reply #25 on: October 21, 2017, 12:28:03 PM »

Brian,

Thank you for that detailed and very helpful feedback. Much appreciated.

All the best,

Adam
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KB4MNG
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Posts: 265




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« Reply #26 on: October 22, 2017, 05:48:58 AM »

Not an engineer but have a good friend that is an engineer. The guy is brilliant and has several patents. The problem is, he was under contract when he developed these items and lost control on them.

He never told me what he made but I think he lived comfortably. The thing that always surprised me is that he jumped from employer to employer and never really settled anywhere. It is not uncommon for him to jump up and move a few states away.

Not a life i want to live but to each their own.

I read an article written by and engineer in computer hardware. He said the same thing about you guys say about rf. Stay far away. The problem he said was you could be working on something that would suddenly become out of date because another engineer come out with something much better.
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G3RZP
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Posts: 8123




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« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2017, 02:24:50 AM »

The company I was with paid you literally the sterling equivalent of $1 for the US rights to a patent. After 32 years, three take overs and four changes of name, we got - in stage payments - a total of $5000 less UK tax for a fully granted patent. That was after we had become Canadian owned....$2500 less UK tax for a published paper or conference presentation. Six of my sixteen patents got the $5k...
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W9IQ
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Posts: 1707




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« Reply #28 on: October 24, 2017, 03:41:06 AM »

I think this is common practice for technological firms as my patent experience is the same. They do disclose this to you when you are hired so it comes as no surprise.

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
K8AXW
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Posts: 6306




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« Reply #29 on: October 24, 2017, 10:25:12 AM »

Brian:  Your post is one of the most profound that I have ever read!  Very good.

I humbly offer one more suggestion...... the successful ones, no matter what they try to accomplish, knows when to quit and try something else.

I learned this from two rabbit dogs.  One would trail a rabbit until the rabbit, being old and wise would pull a maneuver to throw the dog off.  This dog would quit and go find another rabbit.

The second dog, once he got on the trail would never give up, which sometimes cost him a night alone in the woods or me dragging him out of a big hole that he was digging to get to the rabbit.

This usually caused me to go home with him because if I put him down, no matter where, he'd return to the hole and continue to dig, being too damned dumb to realize the rabbit had left the hole. 

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