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Difference Between Field Service Engineer & Technician

May 30, 2020

Comparing Field Service Engineers to Technicians

Field service engineers and technicians both travel to client locations to troubleshoot and repair mechanical, electrical, and computer system issues across diverse industries. However, field service engineers need more education and play a greater role in the design, installation, and management of equipment. Read below for more helpful details of how these hands-on engineering jobs are similar yet different.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Field Service Engineer Bachelor's degree $98,530 (electrical engineers)
$88,430 (mechanical engineers)
$117,220 (computer hardware engineers)
5% (electrical engineers)
4% (mechanical engineers)
6% (computer hardware engineers)
Field Service Technician Associate's degree $65,260 (electrical and electronics engineering technicians)
$56,980 (mechanical engineering technicians)
0% (electrical and electronics engineering technicians)
3% (mechanical engineering technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Field Service Engineers vs. Technicians

Field service engineers and technicians both travel to job sites for their employers to resolve equipment issues. Field service engineers perform equipment installation, train and supervise other workers, and develop protocols for maintenance. They also design effective systems and monitor those already in place to suggest innovation or improvement. Field service technicians, on the other hand, work largely to repair specialized equipment, like cranes or hydraulic systems. They are not responsible for supervising others or designing effective equipment; they clean, repair, and maintain the equipment designed by engineers. Both professionals may be required to travel extensively to reach clients, including nationally and internationally. They also typically specialize in a particular industry, given the variation of equipment across industries.

Field Service Engineer

Field service engineers are employed to help keep the systems and equipment of different companies operating smoothly and effectively. They perform mechanical and electrical installations and repairs, though computer hardware is now also a major component of equipment in most industries (anything with wireless Internet capacity, GPS, or satellite safety features). Field service engineers need to assess, repair, or design equipment utilizing all of these components. They travel from customer to customer to diagnose problems and figure out solutions. They also schedule maintenance on equipment and supervise technicians to prevent malfunctions. As part of this, field service engineers must be able to effectively communicate and lead. They must also usually be available to work on weekends.

Job responsibilities of a Field Service Engineer include:

  • Creating schedules of tasks at each job site
  • Troubleshooting issues
  • Performing emergency services
  • Writing detailed technical reports
  • Training others to use equipment

Field Service Technician

Field service technicians perform tasks that are usually similar to what field service engineers do. Their capacity at a job site can include troubleshooting and diagnosing problems and then giving repair recommendations and quotes. Once a repair has been ordered, field service technicians usually perform the repair. After installing parts into equipment that customers are using, they must test that the equipment is operating properly. Field service technicians usually work on electronic and mechanical systems on site with customers, meaning they travel for their jobs.

Job responsibilities of a Field Service Technician include:

  • Reading schematics
  • Managing parts inventory
  • Communicating effectively with customers
  • Documenting their work
  • Keeping tools and facilities clean

Related Careers

If you are interested in what a field service engineer does, you might take a look at what an environmental engineer does, since both travel to specific sites to diagnose issues and design solutions. Those intrigued by field service technician work might also find the work of an auto mechanic fascinating, since both repair the mechanical and electronic components of equipment using specialized tools.

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