Field Service Technician: Job Description & Requirements

A field service technician is a general term for any mobile repair or assessment technician who travels to a site to troubleshoot equipment problems. A field service technician may work for a product manufacturer or be employed by a dedicated team of repairmen, such as Best Buy's Geek Squad, whose job is to repair and maintain all makes and models of a particular type of product.

Career Definition for a Field Service Technician

Field service technicians work in industries with products that cannot be easily transported because of their size or link to other systems. Many field service technicians service home-based equipment, such as security systems, appliances, computer equipment, televisions, stereos, and heating and ventilation units. Field service technicians are also employed by large industry to work on heavy equipment, including farm or factory machinery, diesel engines, or computer networks.

EducationCertificate or associate degree usually preferred by employers
Job SkillsIndependent workers, service management, customer service, diagnostics
Median Salary (2015)*$36,840 (computer, ATM, office machine repairers); $37,050 (farm equipment mechanics and service technicians); $37,730 (all other installation, maintenance, and repair workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Field service work is highly dependent upon the industry. Despite this, the core of all field service work is maintenance and repair. Employers in highly technical fields, like information technology or diesel engine repair look for those with at least an associate's degree or certificate in a related field, such as heavy equipment repair or computer technology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), other less technical areas, such as appliance or stereo service, require less formal education because most employers train their technicians on-the-job.

Required Skills

All field service technicians, regardless of industry, must be able to work independently with little supervision. Field service technicians must be able to manage service calls that require more time than anticipated without becoming frustrated or rushing through a job. They must also possess superb customer service skills and an ability to diagnose and solve problems from non-technical descriptions provided by their customers.

Career and Economic Outlook

While the BLS forecasts solid job opportunities for general field service technicians, individual job outlook is highly dependent upon industry and skill level. In general, jobs are expected to be increasingly concentrated in larger companies as the number of independent businesses decline. Technicians with formal training and advanced skills will have greater opportunities, as will technicians who work in a computer-related or niche industry, such as heavy equipment repair. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for computer, automated teller and office machine repairers was $36,840 in 2015. The median for farm equipment and service technicians was $37,050 and all other installation, maintenance and repair workers made a $37,730 in 2015.

Alternate Career Options

Here are a few other options for careers in repair and maintenance:

Electrician

Learning their skills through technical schools or formal apprenticeships, these professionals are trained to maintain and install electrical systems for businesses and private residences. Faster than average employment growth of 14% was forecast for electrician positions from 2014-2024 by the BLS. The median annual wage earned by electricians in 2015, according to the BLS, was $51,880.

Electricians' Helper

Learning most skills on the job and already having a high school diploma, these helpers perform the duties requiring less skills, such as cleaning equipment and work areas, in addition to handing tools and supplies to electricians, or holding items for them. The BLS reported a median annual salary for electricians' helpers of $28,730 in 2015 and predicted 9% job growth for helpers of installation, maintenance and repair workers, from 2014-2024.

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