Spectrum Management Certification: Excerpt

The availability of an adequate spectrum to support commercial, government, and military electronic systems and equipment is critical to maximizing mission and performance effectiveness. Spectrum planning and frequency management must be given appropriate and timely consideration during the development, procurement, and deployment of assets that utilize the electromagnetic spectrum. To ensure maximum compatibility among the various worldwide users of the electromagnetic spectrum, it is essential that spectrum-dependent equipment complies with spectrum usage and management requirements. The DoD’s use of the spectrum is constantly being challenged by the commercial sector. It is expected that the military’s control of the spectrum will diminish in favor of commercial use. As more and more spectrum is taken away, the available spectrum must be managed as efficiently as possible to ensure the success of all commercial, government, and military operations. The field of spectrum management (SM) involves highly-specialized technology dealing with the management of the electromagnetic spectrum. The rapid advancement of wireless technology and the attendant probability of electromagnetic interference (EMI) require that the management of wireless spectrum be carefully engineered. Yet, there is a critical shortage of qualified SM engineers and technicians to assist in controlling the use of spectrum. Furthermore, SM theory is seldom taught as part of any engineering curricula. Courses on subjects related to SM usually do not emphasize basic SM topics. Most students may take a course or two on electromagnetic field theory or antenna propagation. Thus, the possession of a BSEE degree does not in itself qualify an engineer as an SM expert. Traditionally, the spectrum management community has been populated by small groups of dedicated specialists. With the enhanced emphasis on EMI control, the people supporting these programs have been taxed to the limit. To gain a broader base of support, program funding was increased dramatically, which in turn stimulated growth in the technical support base. In the ensuing growth, program needs expanded significantly beyond available assets. The problem has been addressed by using the specialists as team leaders to extend their abilities over much broader range, but this has led to a dilution of capabilities in the face of expanding expectations. The end result has been a decrease in the overall quality of spectrum management technical support. Other evolutions in the U.S. Federal systems occurred during this same time frame that further complicate the ability to obtain quality support. The Competition in Contracts Act has made it extremely difficult to screen out unresponsive bidders for engineering service contracts because of the currently acceptable substitutions for unrelated engineering or technician training and experience. A common approach in evaluation of proposals is to determine which offers meet the minimum requirements (rather than the best proposal) and to award the contract to the lowest bidder in that group. Without an established standard for qualifying spectrum management training and experience, there is no way to stop substitutions. To avoid a dilution of capabilities in the face of expanding expectations or a critical shortage of spectrum managers, engineers and technicians it is desirable to establish a dedicated career path for their professional development. Early in 2010, it was determined that a credential accreditation and certification process for spectrum management technical support was needed in two areas:
  • Personnel providing direct technical support, and
  • Laboratories doing spectrum monitoring
Certification of personnel to a recognized standard also provides a basis for evaluating and differentiating offers from contractors who do not have experienced, qualified personnel on staff. It also provides a demonstrable benchmark to which government and industry activities can train professional technical staff. iNARTE’s professional certification is geared towards qualified engineers and technicians/practitioners, who have a vested interest in advancing their profession and the industry in the field of SM. Becoming a part of the iNARTE certification community provides global proof of your skills and demonstrates commitment to your career development. Career opportunities with government and civil contractors in the defense industry and market (which extends also to the aerospace and maritime markets) in electronics, avionics and many other technical fields can depend upon iNARTE certification. iNARTE-certified SM engineers and technicians work on advanced technology systems and components in industries that include commercial, government, aerospace, and military applications. The purpose of the Spectrum Management Credential Program is to foster technical excellence in spectrum management and engineering. This approach establishes technical competency criteria for SM and enforces these criteria for technical personnel performing spectrum management tasks. The program benefits the individual engineer, the technician, and the professional community as a whole by establishing a standard of excellence in SM engineering that will endure and extend across the boundaries of private and government agencies. In particular, the program’s objectives are to:
  • Create certified spectrum managers and frequency coordinators
  • Assure a uniform level of expertise and quality
The brief proposed definitions of the various grades are presented below. The suggested examination subjects and skill sets for each tier are listed in Table 1. Table 2 lists the certification prerequisites for each tier.


SM Engineers should have good knowledge of electromagnetic theory and associated mathematics and physics of transmission, propagation, and interaction. They are required to be able to carry out analysis of link and channel budgets, collocation analysis and interactions and have some basic understanding of analysis and simulation tools. SM engineers should also have fundamental knowledge of spectrum testing and monitoring, spectrum risk assessment, and of spectrum management regulatory issues. SM engineers should also be knowledgeable in the applicable EMC spectrum engineering standards, their rational and implications on design and the corresponding spectrum site surveys, monitoring and testing and test set ups to the extent necessary for adequate design and preparation of test and evaluation procedures. SM Engineers require “soft skills” and particularly good writing and presentation skills to an extent that enables them to prepare engineering reports and participate in design reviews.


SM technicians should have basic knowledge of SM, to the extent necessary to understand the rationale behind the necessary tests and set-ups, know the instruments and test setups he uses, and be able to verify their proper operation and limitations. The SM technician needs to know the pitfalls of real measurements. SM technicians should be able to compile test reports that adequately record the outcomes of the tests. SM technicians should also be able to help identify failure thresholds and assist in solving problems when identified.

iNARTE Spectrum Management Program Examination Subjects and Skill-Sets

Basic Theory
Electromagnetic Field Theory X
Basic EMC Theory X X
Vector Mathematics X
Spectrum Analysis X X
Communication Theory X X
Radio Wave Propagation and Multipath X X
Transmission Lines and Waveguides X X
Terminology X X
Spectrum Management, and Engineering
Spectrum Management X
Spectrum Allocation X X
Frequency Licensing and Assignment X X
Spectrum Policy (Rules and Regulations) X
Radio Technology
Basic Spectrum Electronic Principles X X
Transmitters, Receivers and Antennae Characteristics X X
Signals and Transforms X X
Amplifiers and Attenuators X X
Radars X X
Cellular 3/4/5G Technology X X
Spread spectrum, Direct Sequence and Frequency Hopping X X
Adaptive Antennae and Techniques X X
Diversity Techniques X X
EMC Design
Enclosure and Cable Shielding X X
Filters X X
Electromagnetic Radiation Hazards (EMRadHaz)
RF Safety X X
Prediction and Analysis    
Link Budgets X X
Inter-system and Intra-system Collocation Analysis and Prediction X X
Radio Propagation and Collocation Simulations X X
Interference Resolution X X
Testing, Measurement and Validation
Spectrum Monitoring and Compliance X X
Spectrum Site Surveys X X
Test Facilities and Instrumentation X X
Specifications and Standards X X
Testing and Measurements X X
Test Plans and Procedures X X
Test Reports X X
Program Management    
SM Program Procedures X
Design Reviews X
Engineering Ethics X X
Team Leadership X
“Soft Skills” X X