Careers in Antenna Engineering 

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Supposing that you like the field of antennas and electromagnetics so much that you would consider doing it for a career, what types of opportunities are available?

Surprisingly, there are a good number of careers in antenna engineer, and some pay pretty well. I will outline the 3 main sectors of antenna jobs:

1. Private-Sector Antenna Jobs

Consumer electronics companies (Research in Motion, Apple, Samsung, HP, etc) hire antenna engineers to assist in developing their products. The antenna engineers are responsible for these areas:

  • antenna design (including working with product development teams to define appropriate antenna volumes, geometry, impedance matching etc)

  • integration (ensuring the antenna continues to radiate as the product goes from prototype to production stage, ensuring antenna is manufacturable)

  • product testing (which includes defining minimum acceptance levels and ensuring product quality, setting VSWR specs, etc)

  • failure analysis (determining why failed or returned products fail and how this can be corrected).

    These jobs tend to be higher paying, but have longer hours and tighter deadlines.

    2. Defense Department or Government Jobs

    A big area for antenna engineers is working on defense programs, particularly in the United States. I classify these as government jobs because the customer is the government, and they essentially set the rules and overall tone for the companies.

    These jobs are less concerned with manufacturability and antenna design, and more focused on research and integration. Antenna engineers at defense companies tend to write a lot of code for antenna or general electromagnetic analysis.

    Antenna systems on defense aircraft are to work over frequency ranges from "D.C. to daylight", which for practical purposes is something like 3 MHz - 40 GHz. As such, antenna systems on defense aircraft are typically very complex, often with upwards of a hundred antennas on a single aircraft. Antenna engineers in this world struggle with antenna to antenna coupling, field of view requirements, making radomes so antennas are more aerodynamic, etc.

    3. Research (University) Jobs

    These careers are all about publishing in the journal IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation. The positions can be as a professor or as a full-time researcher. Thse jobs are almost exclusively in the University world, but some National Labs also have research positions where the primary goal is to publish.

    Some active areas of research include:

  • Meta-Material Antennas

  • Electromagnetic Solver Development (FDTD, MoM, FEM, etc.)

  • Experimental Areas such as "cloaking"

  • Antenna Miniaturization

  • Antenna Array Optimization (weights, positions, etc)

  • SAR reduction for mobile phone antennas

  • Broadband Antennas

    Obtaining these positions is all about publishing. A Ph.D. is a necessity, and the more conference and journal publications you have the more likely you are to land a position here. These jobs typicaly involve some amount of teaching responsibility, student mentorship, and a fair amount of grant or proposal writing to obtain funding for your research.

    For more information, see the links on available antenna positions and antenna engineer salaries.

    Available Positions

    Antenna Salaries

    Interview Questions

    Antenna Theory (Homepage)