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A radar technician is a skilled electronics specialist who is trained to work with radar equipment. He or she installs and maintains the display, transmission and receiving components in radar equipment that is used for weather forecasting, air traffic control, nautical navigation and astronomy. The technician uses sophisticated test equipment to diagnose and calibrate systems. Defense contractors have a high need for technicians to maintain systems used for weapons testing and development.
Another sector that uses radar technicians is the construction industry. Service providers use portable, ground penetrating radar to inspect and locate underground utilities, voids or empty cavities, and unmarked graves prior to ground preparation for the project.
Working conditions vary for radar technicians. The repair and installation of display devices or transmitters may take place in climate controlled environments. Cabling and calibration duties can require outdoor work including climbing several hundred feet (100 m or more) in the air on antenna towers while carrying up to 50 pounds (110 kg). Radar technicians who work for defense contractors or on projects with military applications may need a security clearance.
Most entry level radar repair jobs require at least an associate’s degree in electronics engineering technology. Additional work in microwave theory, mathematics, logic, and computer science are useful as well. Some radar technicians receive their initial training in the military. The practical experience itself is valuable and the training can provide a foundation for advanced studies.
Physical ability can be important to a radar technician when a job requires climbing and working on uneven surfaces. Some technicians are required to work in confined spaces installing or repairing systems in aircraft or ships. Domestic and international travel may be required depending on the employer. Oil companies routinely use technicians on offshore platforms for the repair and maintenance of weather radar systems and geological imaging devices.
Duties for the radar technician are as varied as the working conditions. Repairing components or wiring on towers and transmitters, testing continuity on cables or circuits and soldering components or circuits are routine tasks. Installation of new or replacement equipment requires testing and calibration, and knowledge of new developments in technology may require additional training or education.
Radar is now a part of modern life, and radar systems provide communication, meteorological data and a vital component of national defense. Radar technicians work in a field that is likely to grow as microwave technology is adapted to new uses. Radar devices are also becoming more common on vehicles used by the general public.