Satellite systems engineers (SATCOM) are responsible to maintain and troubleshoot the technology systems associated with satellites. They may also work on cross-functional teams that consist of other engineers and technicians to design new programs or improve existing ones. These engineers may be required to be on-call in case issues arise and may travel internationally.
How to Become a Satellite Systems Engineer
Step 1: Earn a Degree
You have a few options to become a satellite systems engineer. You could earn a relevant bachelor’s degree that gives you the skillset necessary to work on satellite systems. Relevant degrees include computer science, or electrical, mechanical, and aerospace engineering. Alternatively, you can earn an associate’s degree in electronics, communications, or computer science and become a satellite systems technician first to gain full-time work experience while pursuing a bachelor’s degree part-time. Others join the armed forces and are trained by the military. This route provides you experience and highly technical hands-on training.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Many employers look for candidates that have some experience already. If you are looking at going to college to become a satellite systems engineer, inquire if the college program has internship opportunities. If you took the path to become a satellite systems technician first and then continue your education, this experience may count as well. Alternately, many employers may find candidates with military experience in the field highly valuable. Experience is highly regarded as you must be highly skilled in the latest technology and equipment design, data security and bandwidth as well as rates and distribution, system architecture, and more.
Job Description of a Satellite Systems Engineer
The tasks performed by a satellite systems engineer will vary depending on the project they are assigned, the company they work for, and their own experience level. They install, operate, and/or design solutions of tactical satellite systems, large earth stations (teleports), and mobile satellite systems. They may also supervise engineers or technicians with less experience or lead cross-functional teams to meet a missions’s goal. They are responsible to ensure a satellite’s systems hit target operational performance rates (uptime rates) through best practices of maintenance. They take corrective action when needed and identify areas of future improvement.
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