RF Technician (4600)

Engineers, Technical Specialists and Technicians Charlottesville, Virginia


Position Description:


Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is seeking full-time RF technicians (NRAO’s classification: Technical Specialists) at the Central Development Laboratory (CDL) in Charlottesville, VA. The CDL develops new technology to enable forefront research in radio astronomy by the scientific community. 


Multiple positions are available in the Millimeter/Submillimeter receiver group for RF technicians to build and test components for cryogenic radio astronomy receivers. These positions span a range of skills, from assembling and wirebonding microwave components under a microscope, to measuring receiver noise temperatures, measuring components using VNAs, and building, documenting, and maintaining microwave measurement systems.


One position (RF Technician A) requires experience assembling microwave components using a microscope, and excellent hand-eye coordination is necessary to manipulate the fragile, millimeter size microcircuits. Experience in wirebonding is desired for this position, along with some experience using test systems to measure these sensitive electronic devices.


Other positions (RF Technician B) require measuring noise temperatures and gains of mixers, amplifiers, receivers, and other microwave componentsA basic understanding of RF test techniques, test system architectures, and analog/digital circuits is required to help debug existing test systems and for construction of  new test systems. 


Applicants must be methodical, self-starting team players, comfortable in a diverse research environment, with excellent technical writing and communication skills.   Applicants must be able to properly document their work, and familiarity with Microsoft Word and Excel are required for record keeping and graphing of measurement data.


In addition to competitive pay, NRAO provides excellent paid time off benefits (vacation and sick leave). Medical, dental and vision plans are effective first day of employment. NRAO’s retirement benefit contributes an amount equal to 10 percent of a qualified participant’s base pay. No contribution is required of the employee; we also offer an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.


Job Duties Summary


  • RF Technician - A
    • Assembling millimeter wave and microwave circuits, with wirebonding as well as some assembly performed under a microscope.
    • Testing millimeter wave and microwave circuits
    • Recording and analyzing test data
    • Using web based systems to track inventory and the status of work
    • Tracking and maintaining parts and lab supplies and reordering as necessary
  • RF Technician - B
    • Measuring noise temperature and gain of millimeter wave and microwave components and receivers.
    • Recording and analyzing test data
    • Assembling millimeter-wave circuits
    • Constructing, operating, debugging, and documenting microwave and millimeter-wave test systems.
    • Using web based systems to track inventory and the status of work

Work Environment

The work is primarily in a laboratory environment and the candidate must be able to sit or stand at a bench for sustained periods. Visual acuity and manual dexterity are required, and some positions require lifting and carrying 50 pounds.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

The RF technician A position requires an Associate’s degree in electrical engineering, or a related field, or equivalent experience. The RF technician B positions require a Bachelor's degree in engineering (such as BSET) or a related field; or an equivalent combination of education and experience.


Preferred Education

Associate’s degree in electrical engineering is preferred for the RF technician A position and a bachelor’s degree in electronics technology (BSET) is preferred for the RF technician B positions.


Minimum Experience

At least 1 - 3 years of post-degree experience with radio frequency or microwave systems, or equivalent combination of education and experience. Candidates with more years of experience will be considered for a higher-level position classification.


Preferred Experience

Five or more years of post-degree experience with radio frequency or microwave systems.  Experience with cryogenic and vacuum equipment is also desired.


Competency Summary

  • Hands-on type person comfortable building microwave components and repairing test systems
  • Skilled in graphing data in Microsoft Excel and writing reports in Word
  • All positions require highly organized individuals with excellent attention to details
  • Good communication skills


Additional Requirements

The Observatory requires staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to access our facilities. An offer of employment will be considered contingent until the selected applicant provides proof of vaccination. A selected applicant may request consideration for an accommodation for a disability or for a sincerely held religious belief.


Application Instructions:


Select theApply” button. You will need to be prepared to upload your current resume and a cover letter describing interest and suitability for the position.


Equal Opportunity Employer Statement:


AUI is an equal opportunity employer. Women, Minorities, Vietnam-Era Veterans, Disabled Veterans, Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities are encouraged to apply. To view our complete statement, please visit http://jobs.jobvite.com/nrao/jobs. If you require reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process due to a disability, you may submit your request by sending an email to [email protected].



The NRAO is an equal opportunity employer (M/F/D/V)

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.