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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.
|Education||Certificate or associate degree usually preferred by employers|
|Job Skills||Independent workers, service management, customer service, diagnostics|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$37,710 (computer, ATM, office machine repairers); $39,340 (farm equipment mechanics and service technicians); $38,800 (all other installation, maintenance, and repair workers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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.
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 $37,710 in 2017. The median for farm equipment and service technicians was $39,340 and all other installation, maintenance and repair workers made $38,800 in 2017.
Alternate Career Options
Here are a few other options for careers in repair and maintenance:
Learning their skills through technical schools or formal apprenticeships, these professionals are trained to maintain and install electrical systems for businesses and private residences. Average employment growth of 9% was forecast for electrician positions from 2016-2026 by the BLS. The median annual wage earned by electricians in 2017, according to the BLS, was $54,110.
Learning most skills on the job and already having a high school diploma, these helpers perform the duties requiring fewer 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 $30,540 in 2017 and predicted 11% job growth for helpers of installation, maintenance and repair workers, from 2016-2026.