Most electronic warfare officers work within military or security organizations and require a high degree of technical skill. In some cases, agencies may recruit men and women who have acquired these skills in civilian life, though in other cases, training may be provided for likely candidates within a particular service. This type of work typically requires a security clearance, and anyone who wishes to become an electronic warfare officer should make sure that they will be able to pass a standard background check.
Electronic warfare officer duties are broad and frequently require specialized skills. These officers handle signal intelligence work, which derives tactical and strategic intelligence from enemy transmissions and attempts to deny similar intelligence to hostile forces. Understanding of RADAR systems, countermeasures, communications technologies, and many other related technologies will often be required. These officers are increasingly being drawn into the world of computer security as well, as the use of computer technology and drone systems has changed the face of the modern battlefield.
The specialized skills needed to become an electronic warfare officer can be acquired in a number of different ways. In some cases, these officers are recruited into the military from civilian careers that provided technical skill, such as work in the aviation industry, electrical engineering, or computer science. Reserve officer training programs provide college education to likely candidates, and success in appropriate college programs will typically lead to a career as an electronic warfare officer. Some military organizations have specialized training programs that train soldiers to be electronic warfare officers, while others require that anyone who wishes to work as an electronic warfare officer already hold an appropriate degree.
Membership in the uniformed armed forces of a nation is generally required to become an electronic warfare officer, and most of these positions are associated with military organizations. Some non-military positions in the field do exist, however. The use of civilian contractors to provide specialized services to the armed forces has become more widespread in recent years, and some contractors do the work of electronic warfare officers. Some similar work may also be done by members of the police or private security firms.
In almost all cases, a candidate hoping to become an electronic warfare officer should strive to make sure that he or she will be able to pass a background check. In most cases, this position will require a security clearance. The specific rules used to determine security clearance eligibility vary from nation to nation, but most nations attempt to ensure that candidates have no major security vulnerabilities, such as large outstanding debt burdens, that would allow them to be easily manipulated.