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How Do I Become a Sonar Technician?

Pursuing a career as a sonar technician involves specialized training in understanding and interpreting sonar data. This typically requires a military background, specifically in the Navy, where comprehensive training programs are offered. Additionally, a strong foundation in math and physics is beneficial.
L.K. Blackburn
L.K. Blackburn

A sonar technician operates sonar equipment that is used to identify, locate, and track objects underwater. Sonar can be used for navigation, communication, and exploration of the ocean and other environments. Regional government military organizations are a primary employer for sonar technicians. You can become a sonar technician by qualifying for and joining your region's navy, air force, or other military branch that uses sonar for its operations. Training needed to become a sonar technician is usually offered as part of the military job training process that takes place at the beginning of a military career.

If you become a sonar technician, you can work on land based operations or at sea within a boat, ship, or submarine. When deployed at sea, technicians may be away for many weeks at a time. Ship and submarine working environments for sonar technicians are generally small and enclosed. The work of a sonar technician involves reading sonar instruments, tracking data, monitoring screens, and testing equipment.

Sonar technicians often work on submarines.
Sonar technicians often work on submarines.

Regional military branches usually have recruitment standards you will need to adhere to in order to become a sonar technician. These can include physical fitness standards and education level requirements, such as a need to have completed a high school degree. You may need to be able to obtain a security clearance to become a sonar technician. The clearance process usually includes a background check, personal interview, and reference request.

A sonar technician may be a member of the military and work aboard Naval vessels, such as the Ohio class submarine.
A sonar technician may be a member of the military and work aboard Naval vessels, such as the Ohio class submarine.

In the United States military, the training process to become a sonar technician takes place after the completion of basic training. It is a series of specialized courses that lasts many weeks. Sonar technicians completing military training attend classes and learn job functions while living at the training center.

Within the military, after you have completed the training process to become a sonar technician you can advance in the position with earned increases in rank. New ranks can be earned through a combination of time spent in service, job performance, and commander recommendation. As military rank increases, pay and benefits are also usually increased depending upon regional military standards.

Sonar technicians in the civilian world usually work on research ships and for private businesses. Some individuals choose to become a sonar technician working for a company or research university after earning experience working in the field while in the military. Sonar research can be used to study underwater environments, map new areas, and track fish populations.

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    • Sonar technicians often work on submarines.
      By: James Steidl
      Sonar technicians often work on submarines.
    • A sonar technician may be a member of the military and work aboard Naval vessels, such as the Ohio class submarine.
      A sonar technician may be a member of the military and work aboard Naval vessels, such as the Ohio class submarine.