The term “Field Service Engineer” is not something you may come across every day. It’s a quickly growing field that many think is better than other alternatives, such as “chemical engineering” and “mechanical engineering”.
But what is this branch of engineering? The answer lies in the name itself. The “field” part represents the fact that you’ll be working mostly in the field. The “service” part means working for an industry or individual that requires your services. And an engineer, as we know, is someone who not only builds things but uses technology and science to solve problems that businesses or entire industries might be facing. In a nutshell, a field service engineer is an engineer who works in the field providing his or her services.
Malik Zakaria, CEO at Field Engineer, says, “I would not say that field service engineering is a completely new field. It has been there for years but with different names. Awareness of Field Engineering careers has increased, with more and more people learning about this type of engineering and jumping on the bandwagon due to the perks Field Service Engineers enjoy.”
Major corporations have long referred to computer technicians who travel to customer accounts as Field Engineers. Ex-IBM Customer Engineer Gail Gardner tells us she worked for the Field Engineering Division at IBM starting in 1977. Be aware, though, that not all Field Engineers have engineering degrees. Some do, and others attended tech schools or have advanced training and experience provided by their employer(s), but no engineering degree.
If you have a knack for this kind of thing, choosing to become a Field Service Engineer can be a very rewarding career. Here’s why:
1. The World Is Your Playground
If you hate being cooped up in a cubicle and love traveling to client locations, this is the right job for you. You may be required to travel to other cities and in some cases even countries to “fix things”. And you’ll be doing it all on company money.
Most people in this line of work see themselves traveling pretty much all year round. Demand for seasoned field engineers is currently high in places like Turkey, Belgium, Italy, Chile, Germany, Greece or within the US (well, inter-state, if you’re already living there).
However, the amount of traveling you do is largely governed by your company’s demands. For instance, if you’re a Field Service Engineer in the oil industry, you may work where there’s a high demand for FSEs in oilfields. On the other hand, if you’re working for a company that distributes water or manufactures water purification equipment, you might be asked to travel pretty much anywhere.
Computer hardware and network engineers may have a defined geographic area they cover, while an engineer who installs cell towers would travel wherever new towers are being installed. The only limitation is where the company’s contracts are.
2. You’ll Make Good Money Doing What You Love
Initially, you may not earn as much as, say, a highly experienced Field Service Engineer working in the oil sector, but eventually you would start to take a nice paycheck home. The average pay is around $64,410 with some industries paying more. For example, the average in the oil sector is around $74,000. In addition to this, experience and the company you’re working for matters a lot as well.
Siemens, for example, pays around $78,000 on average to its Field Service Engineers. Similarly, some are making over $100,000 based on skills and experience.
Also, most companies offer great benefits and bonuses to Field Service Engineers. Plus, since you’ll be doing a fair amount of moving around, you won’t have to worry at all about food and accommodation – it’s all on the company. Engineers who travel consistently may not choose to keep a home or apartment. They will a reduced overhead, and when not “on site”, will make enough to stay at an extended stay hotel or choose to lodge with friends or family from time to time. Your rent expenses will be at a minimum and you would have saved enough to enjoy a comfortable living.
3. There Are a Number of Jobs
One of the biggest problems with most career options is that there is more supply and less demand. However, in the case of Field Service Engineers, there is no such problem. Such engineers are required in almost all industries, making it an enviable degree to have.
Companies all around the world are looking for fresh graduates and experienced engineers to help them grow. If you choose this option as your career, you will not have a difficult time finding a decent job because the opportunities are endless. You may master in the field and even pursue your doctorate, since there aren’t many PhDs in this field.
4. The Growth Potential Is Exceptional
The salary is there and so are the company perks and travel opportunities. There’s more! Choose a career as a Field Service Engineer and right from the start, you’ll have a fair amount of practical experience in your repertoire. Every day can be different; a chance to learn new things and work in new places. You’ll be getting used to taking a lot of responsibility at an early stage in your career. You may eventually move to the managerial level as well, once you understand how your chosen field works. The potential is there for you to make an exceptional career in this field.
Don’t be surprised if you’re given the responsibility of keeping the water supply to an entire power station running smoothly after just a few weeks on the job. The task can be daunting, but it’s a chance to prove your mettle and gain respect as well as rewards for coming through on your responsibilities. Naturally, if things get overwhelming, your company’s support network will be there to help as many people who have already been in your shoes know how things can get tough.
Your company also understands the fact that you need to be looked after in terms of security and on-the-job safety. The top engineering companies surround their team members with a network of “we’re in this together”, so pick your employer carefully.
Choose Field Service Engineering as a career and you can look forward to a life of adventure and excitement, seeing different places and meeting people from all walks of life, while enjoying the bounty of your hard work.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.