Should I Become a Field Technician?
Field technicians use specialized technical knowledge to install and maintain industry equipment. These workers travel to conduct such work on site. Depending on the type of equipment one works with, a field technician may be known as a heavy vehicle or diesel technician, electronics repairer, or computer repairer, among other job titles. Individuals can also further specialize within an industry. For instance, a heavy vehicle and mobile equipment technician may choose to specialize in farm equipment. An electronics repairer may choose to specialize in commercial equipment, such as antennas.
The environment in which a field technician works varies by industry: computer repairers will often find themselves in computer laboratories or office settings, while heavy vehicle technicians may work on vehicles in a repair station or outdoors, on site. Most technicians work on a full-time basis, although some may be seasonal or work part-time, depending on the needs of the company. In January 2016, a median annual salary of $47,972 was reported by Payscale.com for field service technicians.
|Degree Level||None; employers may prefer industry-specific certificates or degrees|
|Degree Field||Heavy equipment mechanics, diesel technology, electronics, or computer technology|
|Certification||Various voluntary certification available (i.e. from the Electronics Technicians Association, International|
|Experience||None; long-term on-the-job training is common|
|Key Skills||Analytical and communication skills; ability to troubleshoot complex issues; familiarity with query, spreadsheet, and facilities management software; dexterity and ability to operate a variety of diagnostic/electronic equipment and hand/power tools|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$47,972 (for field service technicians)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine, Payscale.com* (September 2015)
There aren't any degree requirements for field technicians, but employers often prefer industry-specific certificates or degrees in heavy equipment mechanics technology, diesel technology, electronics, or computer technology. You'll also want to possess analytical skills, the ability to troubleshoot complex issues, dexterity, strong communication skills, familiarity with query, spreadsheet and facilities management software, and the ability to operate a variety of diagnostic and electronic equipment as well as hand and power tools. Voluntary certification is available from a variety of organizations, like the Electronics Technicians Association, International. The position is entry-level, but long-term on-the-job training is common. Let's see what steps are taken to become a field technician.
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Steps to Become a Field Technician
Step 1: Obtain Postsecondary Education
A high school diploma is generally the minimum education required for a career as a field technician. However, certificate or associate's degree programs can expose individuals to the most current technologies and improve chances of employment upon completion. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that employers often prefer applicants who've completed postsecondary training specific to the industry.
Individuals interested in a career in electronics repair may benefit from taking courses in the discipline at a community college. Associate's degree programs in electronics and computer technology cover topics such as programming, networking and routing. Diesel technology certificate and associate's programs can provide the educational foundation required for heavy machinery field technicians. Individuals interested in working as field technicians in the computer industry may take postsecondary courses such as microcomputer systems, electronic circuits and computer analysis.
Step 2: Gain Work Experience
Field technicians may find employment with private companies or manufacturers. After hiring a field technician, employers often provide on-the-job training, regardless of an individual's postsecondary education. New employees can expect to learn the more technical details of a job during field training. For instance, entry-level field technicians in the heavy machinery industry may start out doing basic tasks under the supervision of an experienced technician and, with experience, gradually advance to conduct routine service and repairs independently.
Step 3: Earn Certification
A variety of voluntary certifications are available for field technicians in the heavy machinery, computer and electronics industries. For instance, the Electronics Technicians Association, International offers basic electronics certifications as well as credentials in specialty areas of the field. Additionally, the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians provides certification programs for electronics technicians at varying levels of experience. Continuing education or other professional development activities are typically required to maintain certification.
To become a field technician, you need at least a high school diploma and undergo on-the-job training.