Field engineers are an essential part of a wide variety of industries. While a field engineer’s duties will varying depending on the industry and position, the career itself is known for being hands-on, making it ideal for individuals who prefer working on-site as opposed to a traditional office setting.
Men and women interested in a field-engineering career should possess excellent communication and critical thinking skills. Field engineers should be committed to continuous learning throughout their careers, as the field is constantly evolving. Individuals with a genuine interest in this field have virtually limitless potential for growth.
Men and women who are drawn to field engineering tend to enjoy variety in their work. The scope of responsibilities for field engineers is generally quite vast.
Field engineers, who are sometimes referred to ask project engineers, are commonly required to conduct the following tasks:
It’s often necessary for field engineering professionals to conduct extensive research to implement in their everyday work. While field engineers may receive on-the-job training, it’s imperative that these individuals learn to identify problems and determine effective solutions.
Routine testing and maintenance are imperative for safety and efficiency in virtually every industry. By testing and maintaining equipment on a regular basis, field engineers play a key role in preventing machinery failure, as well as unnecessary interruptions in production.
Field engineering professionals must stay up to date on compliance standards and safety guidelines to ensure these regulations are consistently met.
In addition to maintaining machinery and equipment, field engineers are often required to install new equipment and upgrade technology. These advances often lead to increased efficiency, which the majority of industries are on a constant mission to achieve.
Depending on the industry, some field engineers must help in planning and designing major projects. Examples include buildings, bridges, dams, and roads.
Although most of a field engineer’s work is hands-on and conducted on-site, there is some paperwork involved. These professionals are often required to maintain detailed records of their work to track their progress and any potential problems, and to give a thorough account of any maintenance performed or suggestions for project changes. These records are typically shared with senior engineers and other colleagues involved in the assigned project.
The median annual income for U.S.-based field engineers is $63,341, according to PayScale.com. Engineers entering the field can expect to make just over $60,000 per year, which includes bonuses and overtime pay.
Once a field engineer has worked in the field for a year, he or she can expect to earn a salary of about $62,564 annually. At the 5-year mark, the annual salary increases to approximately $69,261, while those with 10+ years of experience generally make close to $80,000 per year.
STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers will likely grow by 8.8% between now and 2028. This estimate is much higher than the expected growth for all other industries. In fact, non-STEM fields are projected to grow by just 5% within the same timeframe. Furthermore, the average salary of non-STEM workers is considerably lower than those working in STEM positions.
There is plenty of potential for growth for field engineers of all skill levels. In many cases, these professionals advance into senior positions within just a few short years. Senior field engineer positions pay up to $118,000 annually, making the potential for financial growth another reason to enter this lucrative field.
The training and skills necessary to obtain a field engineer position tend to vary depending on the industry and company. Below, we outline common requirements and preferences within the field:
While not all field engineer positions require a college degree, many employers prefer their new hires to have prior training, experience, or a combination of the two. Study.com notes that field service professionals are often required to have an associate’s degree, at minimum. The website suggests that students interested in becoming field engineers should opt for the engineering or engineering technology degree path.
Formal education can help prepare future engineers for the workforce. Engineering majors study a plethora of useful subjects, including algebra, applied calculus, trigonometry, and computer technology.
Some employers require a bachelor’s degree for field engineer openings. Study.com recommends majoring in mechanical engineering for the broadest educational experience. In addition to the above-mentioned subjects, mechanical engineering students study physics, machinery, and chemistry, as well as the software required for computer-aided drafting (CAD). This knowledge and skillset is appealing to employers, and graduates are armed with wide-ranging skills, making the transition from college to career much smoother.
Although most field engineering positions don’t require education beyond the undergraduate level, some employers require or prefer a master’s or doctorate degree. In other cases, applicants meet the educational requirement with a technical certificate. Prospective employees can check individual job listings for educational and training requirements and/or preferences.
In addition to training and education, field engineers will benefit from having the following skills, strengths, and qualifications:
Field engineers entering the manufacturing industry can expect to install and maintain equipment at various worksites. These engineering professionals may be asked to develop and update procedures and maintain documentation detailing these guidelines.
Individuals considering a field engineer position in the construction industry should have excellent planning and problem-solving skills, as these individuals often play a key role in the planning and implementation of construction projects. These professionals may also be required to assist in preparing safety programs and developing documentation outlining safety standards and regulations.
Field engineers who choose a position in the healthcare industry often install equipment, troubleshoot problems, and initiate repairs as needed. These individuals may be asked to train support staff to use new equipment or software. In many cases, employers in the healthcare field prefer field engineers with supervisory experience.
The role of a field engineer in the energy industry may include the installation and maintenance of medium and/or high voltage generators and other power-generating machinery. These positions generally require experience in diagnostics and welding.
Field engineers are essential in the world of telecom. Common job duties include managing maintenance, overseeing network issues, performing inventory management, and onsite support.
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