The minimum education needed to become a radio operator is generally a high school diploma or equivalent. Depending on the type of job and the industry in which the radio operator works, additional training or education may be required. Licenses and certifications may also be necessary to become a radio operator, especially if the job is in a government-regulated industry, such as aviation.
While a high school diploma or equivalent may be sufficient education for radio operators in some cases, technological advances in the communications field have resulted in higher hiring standards in others. Certain organizations require operators to have an associate's degree. Those pursuing such a degree may focus on such areas of study as computer technology or electronics. A degree in electronics provides a foundation for a radio operator in operating and repairing the electronic radio equipment. A computer technology degree gives the radio operator a background in the computerized aspect of radio operation.
Since communication is a major part of a radio operator's job, good communication skills are important to those who wish to become a radio operator. The position often requires that individuals send verbal messages over the radio, and these messages should be easily understood by the recipients. This is especially true if the operator is working in an emergency situation, such as emergency dispatch situations or airplane trouble. Good listening skills are also important for radio operators.
Many organizations that hire radio operators offer on-the-job training. This may include information such as emergency radio codes and radio language. For example, someone working for the military as a radio operator may use different radio codes than someone working for an airline. For this reason, training on the job is usually part of the process to become a radio operator.
Knowledge of laws related to radio communications is also useful. Radio communications are often regulated by organizations such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S. Staying current with changes in the existing laws or the addition of new laws is an important aspect of the job, and may be done through research or continuing education courses.
Since many radio communications are regulated by some form of government agency, licensing by these agencies may be required for someone to become a radio operator. For example, people working in the aviation industry as a radio operator will probably need to be certified by the FAA before they can obtain employment in that industry. The FCC is another agency that may license radio operators.