A field engineer is a professional who works at job sites other than the main company office or headquarters. This person often services clients at their homes or businesses. He or she may work in a variety of fields, and can be responsible for installing hardware, servicing a machine, or the maintenance and repair of already-installed products.
Expertise in the area of service, including a strong familiarity with the product, creativity, and problem-solving abilities are all good skills for a field engineer to develop. Since field engineers typically work directly with clients, it can be beneficial to have strong communication skills as well. Good fine motor skills and dexterity are often required.
There are a number of training programs, degrees, and apprenticeships that a potential field engineer may seek. An average field engineer typically learns through on-the-job experience, but formal training in the specialized field is often required, or at least desired, depending on the company. These fields can include a wide variety of subjects, including utilities, construction, engineering, pest control, plumbing, computer programming, electronics, and many other areas.
The day-to-day schedule of a field engineer will vary depending on the person's area of expertise, company, and willingness to travel. Some field engineers may travel a day or more to repair specialized equipment, such as a specific piece of farm machinery, while others may perform tasks within their own neighborhoods. A field engineer who works for a company may work a standard daily schedule, while a self-employed engineer may work out of his or her own home, creating his or her own flexible schedule.
While working with a team may be a requirement, many field engineers work alone. Tools, transportation, and a communication device such as a cellular phone or pager may or may not be supplied, depending on the company. Field engineers in the construction industry, for example, often are required to supply their own tools and transportation, while engineers in the cable industry are more likely to have a company vehicle and tools to use. Some companies also provide reimbursement for miles traveled while working.
Continuing education may be required, especially if the company is technologically-based. As products and services change, field engineers must be ready to learn and adapt to these changes. Education may be paid for by the company.