What is a Field Service Engineer?

A field service engineer, also known as a field engineer, is responsible for the maintenance, installation and repair of a wide variety of machinery, systems and equipment. They use their theoretical understanding of engineering concepts along with practical design and repair skills to solve problems in locations that range from airports to warehouses and building sites.

Whilst some engineering jobs require work in an office, lab or workshop most of the time, a field service engineer goes out in the field they work in and visits a range of different sites to implement their skills. It’s a brilliant role if you’re an engineer who enjoys visiting new places and working with a range of people, along with getting the chance to use your skills in hands-on tasks alongside more theoretical problem-solving.

In this article, we cover some of the key responsibilities of a field service engineer, common roles within the discipline, and what kind of skills are required to succeed in field service engineer jobs.

What does a Field Service Engineer do?

A field service engineer is a very broad job title under which there is a multitude of different specialised roles working across a range of industries. There are many tasks that the majority of field engineers will have to complete as part of their day-to-day work however, such as: 

  • Completing preventative maintenance work and servicing on machinery
  • Carrying out routine tests and inspections based on manufacturing or employer guidance
  • Analysing system faults and identifying problems
  • Finding solutions for any malfunctions or issues in a variety of machinery and processes
  • Installing new components or machinery in different locations for different clients
  • Keeping records of the repairs, test results and maintenance tasks done on machines and equipment
  • Studying and learning manufacturing design manuals and specifications to ensure proper understanding of equipment
  • Communicating with clients and customers to ascertain what technical servicing is required
  • Travelling to different sites to fix machinery 
  • Supervising other technicians or engineers to install, repair and maintain machinery
  • Developing and suggesting new systems and processes for machinery to improve existing systems

Field Service Engineer Roles and Responsibilities

Trainee Field Service Engineer

A trainee field service engineer is new to the field and usually only in their first or second job. They can be undertaking an engineering apprenticeship or may just be in their first role after completing a degree or equivalent engineering qualification.

As a trainee field service engineer, most of your responsibilities will be dictated by the other engineers or technicians you are learning from and working with. You will carry out installation and maintenance work on a variety of machines and equipment, run tests and record results, and may be required to write up reports or instruction documents.

Medical Field Service Engineer

Medical field service engineers work specifically with medical equipment and machinery to fix problems, install new products and carry out routine inspections. A lot of medical machinery is involved in complex medical procedures and life-saving or life-prolonging care, so it is very important that medical field service engineers have a good eye for detail and high standards of work.

If you are a medical field service engineer, it is likely that you will be employed by a company that produces certain medical devices, equipment, or machinery. In your job, you will travel to different medical institutions that have bought this equipment from your employer and complete your work here.

Mechanical Field Service Engineer

Mechanical field service engineers are specialist mechanical engineers who install, fix, inspect and maintain a wide variety of different machinery and equipment. The role focuses on the mechanical processes that take place in a work-site and can take involve managing all of the machinery in one location or travelling to different places in order to review and repair mechanical equipment involved in industries like transport and power.

As a mechanical field service engineer, you may be required to oversee and advise on the development of new processes and machinery that is brought into a workplace. Most mechanical engineers specialise in a certain sector, or you may work for a company that produces a range of mechanical machinery for a specific purpose. 

IT Field Service Engineer

An IT field service engineer is any field engineer who works with equipment related to computer technology. You may be employed to work with equipment onsite at a specific workplace that contains a lot of equipment, or you may be employed to service and install the IT equipment provided by your employer that is purchased by a range of different companies.

Robotics Field Service Engineer

A robotics field service engineer is a type of robotics engineer who specifically works to maintain, install, and develop robotics machinery and equipment. You need an excellent knowledge of robotics, automation and control theory, as well as the practical abilities to mend, fix and troubleshoot robotic equipment.

Most robotic field service engineers start their careers as either robotic technicians or operators. You can work in a variety of different industries with everything from telecommunication systems to manufacturing and aerospace machinery. 

Electronic Field Service Engineer

As an electronic field service engineer, you will work to install, fix and maintain all kinds of electronic equipment. This could be large-scale machinery in warehouses and power plants or smaller, more commercial devices that require travelling to people’s homes to carry out maintenance and repairs.

The variety of work that field service engineers have in the electronics industry is huge, so there is a lot of scope to specialize in certain areas that you find the most interesting and work to fix and improve certain kinds of equipment.

Automotive Field Service Engineer

Automotive field service engineers are responsible for fixing and maintaining all kinds of automotive vehicles. This may be within a workshop onsite or it may require travelling to inspect and repair vehicles that have been produced by your employer.

There is a difference between an automotive field engineer and a general automotive mechanic, as the former will have had broader engineering training and greater mathematical and scientific knowledge. 

Offshore Field Service Engineer

An offshore field service engineer specializes in equipment and machinery that is used on offshore rigs. You may be required to live and work on a permanent basis on offshore locations, or the role may involve travelling to different offshore rigs to fix or inspect specific machinery that your employer has provided.

Key Skills for a Field Service Engineer

Technical Maintenance

The most important skill you can have as a field service engineer is the ability to service and repair a variety of different machinery and equipment. No matter what industry you work in, you’ll need good background knowledge and understanding of the kind of systems that you are working with and the technical ability to be able to identify any problems and know how to repair them.

These technical skills will be acquired through work experience, which is why many field service engineers begin as technicians or operators in their field. 

Troubleshooting

Whilst the maintenance and routine servicing of machinery is a key part of a field service engineer’s job, troubleshooting any issues or problems that arise with the machinery also a significant part. You will need to be able to interpret the results of tests and system checks, understand what happens when common problems occur, and be able to identify the most efficient solution to any system, process or component problems.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a skill that is required for the same reason that good troubleshooting skills are required as a field service engineer. You will need to be able to quickly diagnose any problems that you come across in your work and identify what the best solutions are. These skills are essential if you want to work efficiently. 

Written Communication

A key part of a field service engineer’s role is writing up reports and reviews of the tests and repair work that you do. If you belong to an external company and have been brought in for routine checks or to fix a specific problem, you will need to provide the owner or operator of the machinery with a report that summarises what you have done and what may need to be avoided in the future.

You may also need to produce written reports that reflect on the work you have been doing and suggest improvements for the machinery that you commonly repair. Good written and verbal communication skills are essential to conveying this information clearly and concisely, and are a key part of being a successful field service engineer. 

Attention to Detail

A lot of the time as a field service engineer, you will find that the thing causing a problem or delay that you are there to fix is very small. You will need good attention to detail if you want to quickly be able to diagnose problems with machinery or equipment and understand what needs to be done to fix them. 

Organisation

When you are a field service engineer, most of the time you will be working by yourself or as part of a small group. You will need to quickly decide what needs to be done when you arrive at a location or are working on a maintenance or repair project and break down the work into individual tasks that you can complete efficiently.

Whether you are studying manufacturing guidelines, deciding what tasks need to be completed, or writing up reports after running routine checks, organisation is a vital part of a field service engineer’s role.

Independence

Finally, field service engineer jobs are usually solitary. Most field engineers spend a lot of their time travelling around to different locations in order to complete their work. Therefore, you will need to be a very independent worker and feel comfortable managing your own time and workload in these kinds of roles.

FAQs

How much does a field service engineer make?

According to data from PaysScale, the average field service engineer salary in the UK is £29,343. This varies between locations however, and a field engineer can make more or less than this average depending on their level of experience, the company they work for and the specific role requirements.

What does a field engineer do in construction?

On a construction site, a field engineer is someone who will come in and fix or service the machinery and equipment that is being used as part of a construction project. They will be able to advise on the most efficient use of any machinery, identifying where issues may be arising from, and provide routine updates and maintenance checks to identify any potential problems before they cause issues.

Summary

Field service engineering is one of the most versatile engineering roles out there. It provides plenty of opportunities for hands-on working as well as the chance to apply your theoretical knowledge and training to a variety of situations, and involves a lot of collaboration and communication with other engineers, clients and customers. No matter where your interests lie, field service engineers are required almost everywhere. 
Whether you’re looking to hire a field service engineer for your company or are a candidate seeking a new role in a field service position, we’ve got the expert industry experience to help. To find out more about the services we offer, get in touch and speak to a member of our team.