What is a Field Service Technician? (And Why We Need Them)
Industrial workers and homeowners alike depend on field service technicians to keep machinery and appliances functioning properly. These are the people that show up at your doorstep when your air conditioning is broken and to perform maintenance checks on other household, industrial and commercial systems.
The global field service market is also steadily increasing and is expected to reach $4.45 billion by 2022.
Here’s an overview of what a field service technician does, their responsibilities, and why their role will never be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).
What is a Field Service Technician?
A field service technician is dispatched by their company to perform on-site inspections, repairs, and installations. They also teach industrial employees and homeowners on how to operate equipment and perform any necessary routine maintenance.
While you may be most familiar with HVAC or telecommunication field technicians that make regular visits to your house, there is also a wide range of B2B field technicians in industries like energy and gas utilities, facility and property management, heavy industry and engineering (mining, manufacturing, etc.), and healthcare.
Each industry requires field technicians to possess a unique combination of troubleshooting skills and operational intelligence to both solve on-site machinery problems and conform with company processes.
Field Service Technician’s Responsibilities
A great field service technician understands that excellent customer service is more than just performing the job correctly. Here are some of their responsibilities both on-site and off-site.
Stellar Job Performance
A great field service technician must first and foremost be great at what they do. They understand how the machinery works and can solve problems on the spot.
In addition, they should also understand and comply with all industry regulations. For example, many B2B field service technicians must understand rules set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and abide by them during on-site visits.
It's also essential that field service technicians can anticipate problems described by customers to ensure that the correct tools are available in the truck for the job.
Provides Accurate Reporting
Even if a field technician is flawless in their on-site performance, it's equally important that they are proficient at logging field service reports and other company processes. For example, if a technician forgets to log a maintenance inspection, the records will show that the job was never completed. Similarly, if a field technician enters the wrong repair for a job, it could lead to inaccurate billing. This not only leads to internal management problems, but it also reduces the brand's credibility.
Finally, great communication is also essential for the brand's survival. The field technician that appears on-site is usually the only direct interaction the customer has with the brand, so the experience must be positive.
Customers often don't understand the details of how their equipment functions, so excellent communication is just as important as the job itself.
In addition to communicating what the problem was and how it was fixed, field technicians may also have to explain regular maintenance to customers. It's important that field technicians can clearly communicate instructions using simple language rather than industry jargon.
Requirements to Become a Field Service Technician
As most companies don't require a college education, the barrier to entry is relatively low for field service technicians. Additionally, the average pay ranges from about $37,00 to $73,000 per year. According to Glassdoor, the average pay is $51,000. Here are some of the requirements you can expect to find in a field service technician's job description.
Most field service technicians only require a high school diploma or an associate's degree. However, applicants that have a degree in computer science and understand basic software and hardware repair are certainly preferred. You can also take online courses specific to the field service industry to add to your resume.
Excellent communication skills are also essential, so be sure to include any communication accolades you've acquired on your resume.
The average field service technician works 40 plus hours per week, and many of the tasks are outdoors. Therefore, be prepared to withstand both sweltering heat and freezing temperatures, depending on where you live.
Much of the equipment is also heavy, and companies often require applicants to be able to lift up to 50 pounds unassisted. You will also be kneeling, sitting, standing, and even crawling on the job, so be sure that you're comfortable working in these positions.
Most field service technicians are hired with little to no experience, and they are often trained on-the-job. If you have previous field training, you'll certainly be a preferred applicant, though you'll likely still have to undergo on-the-job training.
You'll learn not only how to fix problems on-site, but also how to handle industrial equipment like forklifts. Your employer may also require you to undergo an industrial equipment safety training such as the OSHA Outreach training course.
Regardless of your experience level, managers want to add team members who are willing to learn and be team players.
Why Field Service Technicians Will Never Be Replace by AI
While artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly popular in the field service industry, it will never replace field technicians. On the contrary, AI allows technicians to work more efficiently and enables the company to hire more technicians.
For example, field service management software can reroute trucks to reduce wasted fuel costs and time. It can also track inventory to ensure that appropriately supplied trucks arrive at each job, which increases customer satisfaction and reduces unnecessary extra trips.
However, while AI can make a field technician more efficient, it can't problem solve the way a technician can. Therefore, it won't take away field technician jobs. Additionally, many customers, particularly in the B2C industries, prefer transactions with live humans rather than technology.
Field technicians have great salary options, low barrier to entries and there is even a shortage of skilled technicians at the moment.
If you have great problem-solving skills and enjoy working with hardware and software, a field technician career might be an ideal choice. You can also grow to work in field service management and beyond.