Radio Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Receives and transmits communications using radiotelephone equipment in accordance with government regulations. May repair equipment.

This career is part of the Arts, Audio-Video Technology and Communications cluster Journalism and Broadcasting pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Monitors emergency frequencies to detect distress calls and responds by dispatching emergency equipment.
  • Communicates with receiving operators to exchange transmission instructions.
  • Operates radio equipment to communicate with ships, aircraft, mining crews, offshore oil rigs, logging camps and other remote operations.
  • Broadcasts weather reports and warnings.
  • Maintains station logs of messages transmitted and received for activities such as flight testing and fire locations.
  • Conducts periodic equipment inspections and routine tests to ensure that operations standards are met.
  • Turns controls or throws switches to activate power, adjusts voice volume and modulation, and sets transmitters on specified frequencies.
  • Operates sound-recording equipment to record signals and preserve broadcasts for purposes such as analysis by intelligence personnel.
  • Sends, receives, and interprets coded messages.
  • Repairs radio equipment as necessary, using electronic testing equipment, hand tools, and power tools.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Electronic Intelligence Operations Specialist -- Conducts continuous search and monitoring of assigned portions of radio frequency spectrum, using special search or monitoring equipment.
  • Radiotelegraph Operator -- Listens to telegraph signal, types message on form, and relays it to addressee by telephone or teletype.
  • Signals Analyst -- Works with the National Security Agency to help recover, understand, and derive intelligence from foreign communications.
  • Flight Communications Specialist --
  • Telecommunication Operator --