Field Service Technician
A Field Service Technician is a skilled maintenance technician who visits the premises of companies and organisations that have a warranty or ongoing service agreement with the equipment manufacturer or third party service support company. It is the Field Service Technician's job to use their product training and technical skills to ensure that high-value business equipment such as film processing machines, minilabs and large format printers are properly maintained and repaired with the minimum of downtime.
Field Service Technicians will typically have some basic electronics qualification, or have gained on the job experience and training from working in an electronics role. They will also need a driving licence and an interest and good basic knowledge of PC hardware, software and IT. This role is usually relatively well paid, has good career prospects, and enjoys all the benefits of regular employment.
What is the job?
Photographic manufacturers employ thousands of Field Service Technicians across the UK. It is their job to install, maintain and repair a wide range of commercial and business imaging equipment, including: film processing equipment, photographic and inkjet printers, commercial and scientific scanners, large format printers, minilabs, digital kiosks and photo booths, as well as related computerised control systems and software.
The day-to-day activities of a Field Service Technician typically cover three main areas:
- Pre-delivery inspections
- Installing new or refurbished equipment and control systems
- Configuring and calibrating the equipment
- Training the purchasers staff in the safe use of the equipment
- Carrying out scheduled maintenance checks
- Cleaning the equipment, checking its performance,
- Replacing or repairing worn or faulty parts.
- Making adjustments and recalibrating equipment
- Writing up maintenance reports on a laptop or hand-held pc.
- Diagnosing and fixing faults on site
- Fitting replacement equipment if problems cannot be put right straight away
- Returning faulty equipment to a repair centre for further tests and repair work.
- Logging repairs on a laptop or hand-held pc.
Technicians who work for suppliers or manufacturers may also need to take orders for chemicals, inks and other consumables. Technicians may also receive bonuses for encouraging customers to replace old equipment with new machines, and in some cases this role can be combined with the role of a Technical Sales Representative.
While many Field Service Technicians are employed directly by the manufacturers of Photo Imaging Equipment others work for service companies servicing, maintaining and repairing machines from a variety of manufacturers for a specific market sub-sector, such as photographic laboratories, minilabs, photo booths or printing kiosks.
Field Service Technicians enjoy a relatively good starting wage which increases with experience. They normally work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, although some may be on-call to deal with out-of-hours problems. The salary package often includes the use of a company car or van.
Typical career routes
Field Service Technicians typically start work through an electronic/electrical engineering or information technology Apprenticeship (for more information on Apprenticeships, visit: Apprenticeships.org
It is possible to find work directly with equipment manufacturers in their repair centres or as a field technician; with smaller companies who carry out sub-contract work on their behalf; and with large organisations who have their own in-house support team. Jobs are advertised throughout the UK in the local press, jobcentres and in recruitment agencies.
With experience a Field Support Technician can progress to Senior Technician, Service Team Leader, Field Service Manager or even Regional Manager. With further training (see Qualifications and Training) a Field Service Technician could choose to specialise in particular areas of work, for example IT services, contract management, electronics engineering or as a certified specialist in a particular area.
Some companies combine the role with technical sales, which involves discussing clients' business requirements and advising them on upgrades or replacement equipment and systems.
Essential knowledge and skills
A Field Service Technician needs diagnostic and problem-solving skills to find the cause of a fault and patience to trace it. They also need good customer service skills to deal with clients who may be stressed and unhappy about malfunctioning equipment.
They need to take a responsible attitude towards their work, have good organisational skills and be able to work quickly and under pressure without supervision. They should be able to understand technical diagrams and manuals, have a good knowledge of maths, science and technology, as well as an awareness of electrical, mechanical and chemical health and safety issues.
Technicians should also have good computer and IT skills and show a willingness to keep up to date with new technological developments. They usually need good physical fitness, knowledge of appropriate lifting techniques and normal colour vision. A clean driving licence is often considered essential.
Training and Qualifications
Prospective Field Service Technicians normally need four or five good passes in their GCSEs or Standard Grades, preferably in science-based subjects such as maths, science, engineering, design and technology. From September 2008, the City & Guilds Diploma in Engineering will be available (aimed at the 14 to 19 age group).
Field Service Technicians can also find their first foothold in the industry through an electronic/electrical engineering or information technology Apprenticeship. The range of Apprenticeships available in any area will depend on the local employment market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information on Apprenticeships, visit: Apprenticeships.org
It is also possible to take a basic electronics course at a local college, which would provide some of the skills needed in this job. Suitable courses include:
- BTEC National Certificate / Diploma in Operations and Maintenance Engineering (Electronics) Level 3
- BTEC National Award in Communications Technology Level 3
- City & Guilds Progression Award in Electrical / Electronics Servicing: Commercial (6958) at levels 2 and 3.
Once in post, Field Service Technicians will normally receive in-house training on the specific manufacturers' equipment and can usually take work-based NVQ/SVQ qualifications to develop their skills further, such as:
- Performing Engineering Operations levels 1 and 2
- Electrical and Electronics Servicing levels 2 and 3
- Engineering Maintenance and Installation (Electronics) Level 2
- Process Engineering Maintenance (Instrument and Control) levels 2 and 3.
Field Service Technicians can also advance their career by studying part-time for higher-level qualifications like a BTEC HNC/HND in Electronic, Electrical or Operations and Maintenance Engineering. It is also possible to take a City & Guilds Progression Award in Electrical Electronics Servicing (6958) at levels 2 and 3.
Further qualifications would enable the Technician to secure more skilled work such as the repair, servicing, maintenance and calibration of medical and scientific instrumentation; the building and installing of electronic control systems used in computer aided manufacturing (CAM); the inspection and calibration of instruments for quality control purposes; and the setting up of maintenance schedules for industrial and commercial equipment.
For this information and more, please view the attached PDF.
Field Service Technician
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