A radio mechanic is an expert in repairing and maintaining radio communication equipment. These devices are found in a variety of locations, including aircraft, emergency vehicles, and taxis. Radio mechanics use diagnostic tools to locate malfunctioning parts within radios, and repair the electronic equipment using new components or wiring.
Two-way radios have been replaced by cellular phones in many applications. Several industries, however, still commonly use radio transceivers. Radio communication is a vital part of both private and commercial aviation. Emergency vehicles such as police cars and ambulances also rely on radio devices. Other vehicles, including taxis and ships, commonly use radios to communicate.
Radio mechanics perform diagnostic tests to determine the cause of a malfunctioning device. Several tools are used for this purpose. Mechanics use signal meters to test the output of a radio. Oscilloscopes and multimeters are also used to test electronic circuits and locate broken components. Many modern radios are controlled by computers, and mechanics often use computer test software to diagnose problems in these advanced devices.
Once a radio malfunction has been detected, mechanics typically must disassemble and repair the unit. Workers have to use caution when working inside the chassis of a radio, and are required to follow safety procedures to avoid electric shocks or excessive radio frequency exposure. A radio mechanic must be knowledgeable about different replaceable electrical components, including resistors, transistors, and capacitors.
Specialized training is typically required for individuals working in this field. Vocational training in radio repair can typically be obtained from a trade school or technical college. These programs often result in a two-year associate's degree. Workers can also gain useful experience through the military, which relies heavily on radio communication.
Mechanics must continue their training and education even after completing a vocational school. New advances in radio systems are developed often, and workers can attend conferences and seminars in order to stay up to date on important technical changes in the industry. Electronics manufacturers sometimes offer training on one specific brand or model of radio, which allows mechanics to gain valuable repair knowledge.
Some countries have additional requirements. A radio mechanic working on aircraft or ships in the United States must usually hold a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In order to gain this certification, workers are required to pass exams covering electronics fundamentals, laws related to radio transmissions, and safe maintenance procedures. This license requirement helps ensure that only qualified mechanics repair the important systems found on airliners and boats.