My Future in RF - RF Cafe Forums
Post subject: My Future in RF Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 11:54
I want to work in RF/Analog design and have a BSEE with no (related)
work experience. I am considering getting my masters and specializing
in RF/Analog/Mixed-Signal IC design. I don't feel that my undergrad
program gave me the skill set to do design in this area. Ive run into
questions that I would like to bounce off everyone:
the chances that I will get hired right now (BSEE) and developed into
a design engineer by a company?
If a masters is needed, what
will the job prospects be like in 3-4 years?
If a masters is
needed, what type of program should I get into?
My grades in
undergrad were good but not spectacular, GREs average for tier II schools
admissions, and undergrad school was pretty weak in analog design (although
my senior project was RF). -- what are my prospects for admission to
a good grad school?
I have been reading these forums and
getting very depressed. It seems like if I follow my true interests
and try to do RF design I will be setting myself up for a lifetime of
disappointment. Hopefully there are rf engineers out there happy with
their jobs that dont feel the need to vent on these forums and so i
only hear the bad. your thoughts?
Post subject: Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 2:05 pm
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:02 pm
Your situation is a
common one, and it is hard to answer on the questions you described.
You will get many thoughts from different people, but at the end of
the day, the best way depends on you, your wills and your skills.
I personally don't believe in pursuing school right after BSEE,
because you need the required time to get experienced in an engineering
job. Then you will have a more rational vision about your future way.
You are now after your BSEE and you think that you don't have required
knowledge to do RF design. You are absolutely right! Furthermore, the
studies weren't meant to give you the required knowledge, because this
knowlege is gained only in the industry. Once you start working you
will see how this turns into reality. Now, if you go Immediately for
Master's then you don't know what the industry is alike: How would you
know that RF/Analogue is the right field for you?
No one can
tell you what the industry will be like in 3-4 years. But that shouldn't
worry you at all, because if you had asked this question before you
started your BSEE you would get the same answer. If one would say that
he knows the answer then he is either a liar or stupid or both.
Post subject: Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 2:33
My plan (in a perfect world) is/was to get
an RF job, see if I like it, learn more about my interests and then
perhaps pursue grad school. The problem is after 2 years of looking
I've only gotten one RF interview and it didnt work out. One problem
is I live in Michigan and there just isn't much RF work here. If I lived
in Silicon Valley, things might have been different. Second, everyone
i went up against at that interview had a masters. Third, every job
ive ever applied to requires a bachelors, prefers a masters. Which makes
me wonder if a BS will cut it for entry level.
I have a little
over a year of experience in power engineering. I took the job so i
could 'be an engineer' and also pay back some loans. but I cant stand
it and need to move on. This experience will count for something im
sure, but nevertheless it is a completely unrelated discipline to rf
(sans transmission line theory which i dont use)
Thanks for the
Post subject: Similar experience
to yoursPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2005 10:20 am
I completely agree about
needing a Masters to really get anywhere. I was in the same boat as
you are in, first job at a place that didn't provide any practical experience
for what I wanted to do. If you stay there too long, you will get pigeon-holed.
I truly believe that your first or second job out of school is going
to set the tone for the rest of your career. Get into something related
to your interests as fast as you can.
Now the rest of this is
based on what I've experienced:
The problem with getting into
any job is the need to have had previous experience to begin with. Unless
they were lucky enough to be assigned to this type of work in the military,
as a technician, or a co-op, most people fresh out of school won't have
the qualifications that today's employers want. If you can find a place
that is willing to take you entry-level in the type of work you want
to be doing, great. I think your prospects of getting that job are a
lot better with a Masters. If you get offered a job with a Bachelors
and little or no applicable experience, it will most likely be in Test.
Some people may like Test, but I don't, so I started taking grad classes.
On the bright side, Test does give you good hands-on and insight that
can make those grad classes alot easier to understand, and you will
have an advantage (knowledge-wise and on your resume) over your competition
that went straight through school without the work experience. In this
economy, you are going to need an edge, whether it's a stellar GPA,
graduating from a top school, work experience, or knowing someone. After
working in industry for over 6 years, I still got asked what my undergrad
GPA was in a recent interview. And because there are a lot of people
who get together in groups to cheat in grad programs (like mine), you
had better work twice as hard because you are competing against them
for grades as well. So, if this is the route you want to pursue, you've
got to really want it.
If you can find a roommate, the Silicon
Valley or Southern Cal might be a good way to go to find entry-level.
Otherwise, you will be living very poorly in those places. But get the
job first, then move, because entry-level can be hard to get.
The funny thing is, I work in the semiconductor industry, and I'm
considering a switch to Power so that I can have a more stable job environment
(plus get away from the unethical, backstabbing A-holes in the semiconductor
world). Is Power that bad? I hope it's better in the other industries.
Post subject: Posted: Sun Sep 11, 2005 8:47
I dont think its that power is that bad, its just really not
for me. It was my least favorite subject in school, but i took it anyway
b/c i knew there were jobs in it.
The thing is power is not
as central to ee curriculum as it used to be and the old guys retiring
in the field just arent being replaced fast enough, so there is a very
lucrative future there. So if you like it, I say go for it.
Post subject: Re: My Future in RFPosted:
Mon Sep 12, 2005 3:43 pm
Joined: Mon Aug 29,
2005 11:53 pm
I want to work in RF/Analog
design and have a BSEE with no (related) work experience. I am considering
getting my masters and specializing in RF/Analog/Mixed-Signal IC design.
I don't feel that my undergrad program gave me the skill set to do design
in this area. Ive run into questions that I would like to bounce off
What are the chances that I will get hired right now
(BSEE) and developed into a design engineer by a company?
a masters is needed, what will the job prospects be like in 3-4 years?
If a masters is needed, what type of program should I get into?
My grades in undergrad were good but not spectacular, GREs average
for tier II schools admissions, and undergrad school was pretty weak
in analog design (although my senior project was RF). -- what are my
prospects for admission to a good grad school?
I have been
reading these forums and getting very depressed. It seems like if I
follow my true interests and try to do RF design I will be setting myself
up for a lifetime of disappointment. Hopefully there are rf engineers
out there happy with their jobs that dont feel the need to vent on these
forums and so i only hear the bad. your thoughts?
Are you okay with working only in manufacturing? That's
where you will end up with just a BSEE.
Post subject: Posted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 5:12 pm
No, I definitely
want to do design, not manufacturing. What I'm learning is that more
than likely I am going to need a master's to do design. It seems the
chances of being trained to do design having only a bachelor's are very
So now my question is: Should I try to work in the field
for a 2-3 years and then go for a masters...or just go to grad school
Post subject: Posted:
Tue Sep 13, 2005 11:39 pm
Joined: Mon Aug
29, 2005 11:53 pm
I'd go straight for the masters because
industry is a bit hung up on needing a PhD to do any design stuff.
Post subject: opinionPosted: Wed Sep 14,
2005 2:15 pm
It is not true IMHO that you require a Masters to do
design and that companies will only hire you in manufacturing with a
Many engineers I have workied in the past have been design
engineers with a BSEE (the bulk of them). Less have a MSEE and few have
It is difficult to find a job when times are bad in design,and
manufacturing! Companies will hire 10+ years esperienced engineers and
PHds first, 5+years expereince and MSEEs second, newbies and BSEEs last.
We all do the same thing but have different level of experience
and pay. Smart BSEE eventually can get better pay than even PHds. I
would be careful of going for a higher degree for the money. Do a financial
computation (not easy!) of the return for your money. Answer the question:
Does the time spent with lost wages and investments for a higher pay
later makes sense?
>>> GET HIGHER DEGREE IF ONLY IT WILL
BE FUN FOR YOU
As for having a company "develop you" ?!! as a
AH AH AH.
Unfortunately: Companies do not develop
people! They expect that employees will look for themselves.
I have countless examples of engineers which have been promised something
like: "We will move you into design as soon as practical/possible..."
I haven't seen a company follow through with this: The company needs
you where it hires you.
>>> DO NOT GET HIRED FOR A JOB OTHER
THAN THE ONE YOU ULTIMATELY WANT
I agree with a previous post
to be VERY careful to who your manager will be. And what you will be
expected to do. Where in the company structure you will fit. etc...
Before taking any offer. After it will be too late to complain. ANd
also: Don't assume that the company is dealing fairly with current or
prospective employees (if it sounds too good to be true...)
DOUBLE CHECK THE JOB OFFER AND DISCUSS WITH YOUR MANAGER PRIOR TO ACCEPTING
Post subject: guestPosted: Sun Sep 18,
2005 11:34 am
this is how to approach this:
do the degree
but do it because you want too.
learn as much as you can and
do extra work on the side: extra projects, extra designs and work very
hard. then show the employer you truly want to be in this field and
really want to do a great job.
this will seperate you from everyone
every school now has courses in mmic and rfic design sicne
many of the people from industry are teaching those courses on the side,
since the economy is so bad -- how are you going to seperate yourself
there is no guarantee though -- but getting an MS
and PhD means nothing, i have met people in industry with NO BSEE that
can run circles around a PhD.
in life do things because you love
them and want to do them. employers want workers who want to do the
work and well roudned people.
RF Engineer w/experience
Post subject: want to be an RF engineerPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005
One thing, buy Chris Boswick's RF Design book.
It will give you the fundamentals that are needed in the industry. While
higher frequencies above 4 GHz get more tricky, nothing is possible
if given the opportunity. Now to my ranting,
Engineers in general
who have had luck of getting RF or other good engineering experience
with companies with great senior engineers and computer-aided tools
The problem of entering any job with NO direct
experience is that the engineer taking the interview wants to hammer
that point. It also took many years for that engineer to gain that experience.
Why, because it is how the system works. If you are smart, you can get
any knowledge you want, however, somebody at the company you are interviewing
needs to take a chance on your knowledge and willingness to quickly
learn. These jobs are scarce right now. Most postings want people working
for the best companies already. Anyway, sorry to hammer the negative
points, but this industry truly sucks as is my experience working in
it for over 10 years. Good luck to you and hope you find a nice guy
who will give you a chance.
subject: Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 3:15 pm
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2005 6:53 am
i'm gonna be a grad soon and i come from Pakistan.
Recently their has been a lot of investment going on in our country
with WARIDTEL and TELENOR coming besides the old school and de regulation
of National Carrier.
the field of RF Analysis/Optimization(RF Engineer )..is it a good carrier
move in the coming years to come.
I'll soon get my bs computer
engineering degree and my intrest are in cisco engineering and telecom.
I've 1 year of experience in IT btw ranging from linux servers 2
programming 2 transcrption flash animation client relationship management.I'm
all out for an over drive.
I was thinking of taking the opportunity
with RF in my country ..get the job get stable..work on ur cisco certs
besides..with time move on 2 an MBA.....i know that's a long shot
Please comment /advise
Post subject: RF DesignPosted:
Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:04 am
Joined: Fri Dec
09, 2005 10:18 am
A very good idea is to pursue your
interest in RF by home projects regardless of your employment or education.
(try HAM radio experimenting) This will do a few things for you.
It will develop your knowledge of course, but will also give you
an idea of what it is about design you like. What motivates you and
These things are the very key to your success.
me, if it weren't for the fact that I utterly love RF design, I would
never have been able to be a designer.
However, be prepared to be
suprised about what it is you like. I never intended to do RF. I was
hoping to get into digital design, and realized I liked RF more.
I know at least 5 people that do not have a masters degree or any
degree for that matter that are RF designers for companies around the
world. A couple of years in tech school gave them the ability to learn
how to learn everything they needed. By all means, get your masters
later, but this is just to point out that education is a part of your
RF tool box. This gets bigger regardless of your background if you pursue
At all costs get employed by an RF company. If
not as a designer, as a technician/technologist. Experienced RF designers
are hard to find, and once an employer sees that one of its employees
are capable they are normally more than happy to let you help them move
ahead. Obviously, this doesn't happen overnight. Give yourself 2 years
and you'll probably make it in 1. But bank on working towards your goal
for 2 years to prepare yourself for a tough ride (un-paid overtime,
Oh yeah, be ready to move around the world because this business
fluctuates. I'm on my third move in an 8 year period.
enemy in this situation is your ego. Never let any job seem to small
to deserve your best work.
Post subject: Manufacturing WorkPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005
What is all this talk about manufacturing work ?
What is that ? Test ? Product Engineering ? Applications Engineering
I am confused, what a RF Manufacturing Engineer is ? Technician
Help me out here.
Qualcomm hires BSEE/MSEE to be
RFIC Design Engineers, by the way everyone, it might be more competitive
now than before, but that fact remains.
Post subject: RF EngineerPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:26 pm
i did my Master's majoring in RF&Microwave Engineering,i
have been searching for jobs in RF area since 2 months and i couldn't
really get any positive replies so far,what is it that we have to do,to
get a job in this field.
guestPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:55 pm
where are you located ? city,
school ? thesis topic ? specialization ?
Post subject: Re: Manufacturing WorkPosted:
Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:31 am
Dec 09, 2005 10:18 am
What is all this
talk about manufacturing work ?
What is that ? Test ? Product
Engineering ? Applications Engineering ?
I am confused, what
a RF Manufacturing Engineer is ? Technician Work ?
Help me out
Qualcomm hires BSEE/MSEE to be RFIC Design Engineers, by
the way everyone, it might be more competitive now than before, but
that fact remains.
It always entertains me when someone gets
all in a mess when they hear about non-engineers doing engineering design
Obviously, your facts come from your limited experience, as
does mine. That doesn't make either un-true.
Post subject: Re: RF EngineerPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 1:25
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:12 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX
i did my Master's majoring in RF&Microwave Engineering,i have been
searching for jobs in RF area since 2 months and i couldn't really get
any positive replies so far,what is it that we have to do,to get a job
in this field.
I’ve been very a very fortunate RF engineer.
Next month I will retire from a forty-year engineering career, more
than 95 percent of which was RF engineering or RF related work. In my
case my I think my fortune was a result of enthusiasm for all things
RF. I have a BSEE and some graduate work toward an MSEE, but I was a
mediocre student. I have no family members involved in technology of
any sort and did not know anyone involved in RF work when I started
work toward my BSEE. But, even then I was enthusiastic about RF technology.
At age 13 I obtained an amateur radio license. During high school I
built my own transmitters, receivers, and antennas. During college I
landed a part time job at an electronic warfare company as an engineering
aide in the RF receiver lab. That job was won on enthusiasm alone and
led to a marvelous career in circuit design and systems work for several
electronic warfare, radar, and RF communications companies.
In my junior year at college a schoolmate heard about the engineering
aide job opening at the electronic warfare company and suggested that
we both apply. I was pretty busy trying to keep my head above water
academically, but the job sounded really interesting. We both applied
and we both received interview offers. Unknown to us, others may have
applied too and been interviewed as well.
I went to the interview
not knowing a thing about what the job entailed, except that it had
to do with RF receivers. But, as soon as I saw the laboratory area,
the test equipment, and the prototype hardware I was “off the wall”.
I asked questions and more questions then marveled out loud at the Hewlett
Packard sweep generators and the Tektronix oscilloscopes. I was so excited
I just beamed at everyone I was introduced to. With a GPA of 2.3 I didn’t
think I would get the job, but I did! My schoolmate did not get an offer.
He had a higher GPA, and an amateur radio license as well, but he did
not exude enthusiasm. Needless to say he was not happy for me either.
Post subject: UpdatePosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 5:27 pm
It’s been a while since any activity on this thread, but
in case anyone is interested...
After a lot of thought and research
I decided to go to grad school for RF. In the fall I will start my masters
program at Georgia Tech.
Thanks to all for the advice, it helped.