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A field trainer teaches workers how to perform their jobs at their work sites. This type of skills development is usually conducted in addition to classroom training. The types of jobs that employ field training tend to have a functional gap between the theoretical knowledge of the job requirements and the practical application of skills. Field trainers bridge that gap by guiding workers in live work conditions.
With some jobs, there is a big difference between learning how to do the job in a classroom and actually doing it in practice. For example, a pilot can study the process of flying a plane, but the knowledge that can be gained from a book does not equal the experience of actually piloting an aircraft. An airline would likely never put a new pilot in a plane without ensuring he had hands-on practice flying the plane under the supervision of an experienced pilot. The stress of the situation could easily fluster the new pilot to such an extent that he forgets most of what he learned. Having an experienced instructor in the cockpit ensures there is someone who can help the pilot acclimate to the position.
Another example of field training is the type supervised internships that medical students and newly licensed doctors undergo as they transition into their profession. The field trainer is the experienced doctor who monitors the work of the interns and signs off on their diagnoses and treatments. It is his job to make sure the interns learn the practice of medicine and not just the study of medicine. Theory and practice are often separated by real world factors that cannot be captured in a book.
The title of field trainer is typically used when a job has a regimented training program. In many employment scenarios, the field trainer visits different work sites on a rotating basis, evaluates staff performance in live work conditions and conducts additional group and one-on-one training to bring performance into line with expectations. A good example of the use of a field trainer title is with franchises. The corporate office of a franchise will often hire field trainers to work with franchisees at their locations to make sure operations conform to the corporate model.
Functionally, a field trainer can specialize in any type of on-the-job training. The position is as diverse as there is the need to ease workers into specialized functions. Intelligence agencies and the military services use field trainers, as well as small businesses and major corporations in operational areas from manufacturing to sales. In fact, any type of job training that has a classroom component can also have an additional field component that provides opportunities for field trainers.