7 Key Characteristics of a Successful Field Engineer

Developing these essential traits can help ensure a promising future for any aspiring field engineer

Field engineers communicating with each other

Whether you are a field-based engineer traveling to support servers, network equipment, infrastructure or desktop support, there are key skills and abilities that are absolutely essential to being successful and achieving a high level of customer satisfaction. While every support situation is unique and comes with its own set of challenges, it’s crucial to keep a cool head and to follow a basic set of principles no matter what the situation. The following is a brief list of skills that can developed to guarantee continued success in the field.

#1 Ability to work independently

Working as a field engineer, you will encounter individuals from all levels of the corporate ladder and will need to communicate with each of them differently. However, when it comes to resolving trouble with an issue in the field, you will likely be performing the maintenance as a one-man show. That’s why its imperative to implement some best practices to efficiently working independently, including time managements skills, self-motivation, setting a reasonable work pace and prioritizing customer issues in a logical manner.

#2 Good communication and people skills

While field engineers must be able to work well independently, it is equally important that you are able to communicate with others and work as part of a team. There will be times when you need to work with engineers and technicians from your own team, as well as with those from third party vendors, and maintaining a professional dialogue is key to ensure that the work being done is not counterproductive. It’s very easy to cross signals if there is poor communication.

In addition to working with other engineers, you will be faced with explaining complex, sometimes ambiguous technical issues to a customer who will likely not be familiar with the technology and jargon. Communication (and patience!) is important in these situations, but people skills are equally so. The customer is looking for a resolution first and foremost, but until the problem is solved, making sure they feel like they’re in capable hands can go a long way to diffusing a frustrating situation.

#3 Attention to detail

As a field engineer you’ll be visiting places you’ve never been, and working on equipment in offices you’ve never seen before. That’s why it’s important to remain aware at all times, taking notes and pictures to ensure that the equipment is left in the same configuration as it was found. You may run into

As a field engineer you’ll be visiting places you’ve never been, and working on equipment in offices you’ve never seen before. That’s why it’s important to remain aware at all times, taking notes and pictures to ensure that the equipment is left in the same configuration as it was found. You may run into problem in the field with building access, network/server room locks or cabling issues such as a messy cable configuration and poor rack maintenance. These roadblocks can all affect your schedule and present unforeseen challenges. Maintaining awareness of the environment will help you complete the work on schedule and will help prevent future headaches.

#4 Resourcefulness

When working in the field, you’ll almost certainly run into situations where you’ll need to improvise a quick fix while planning for a more permanent solution. Whether you’re working on cable runs, network installations, desktop support issues or any other type of issue, the number one priority is always user up-time. In order to maximize up-time, you may need to run a quick patch or implement a workaround to get the users running, then return later to put a permanent solution in place. Being resourceful and adaptable in your work will ensure that you never leave users without connection longer than necessary.

#5 Passion for learning

The field of technology is changing at lightning speed, and anyone who doesn’t stay current on trends and industry standards won’t be able to keep up with the ever-changing needs of customers. While surely a field engineer isn’t expected to know everything, it’s important that he or she be a fervent researcher and endlessly adaptable to finding new ways of doing things. Sticking to the old way won’t work in today’s innovation-driven culture.

#6 Patience

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but a necessary one – not everything can go according to plan, and inevitably unforeseen challenges will arise during the course of any project. Keeping a level head and calmly working towards a solution is a great way to impress your clients. If you enter each project with the assumption that delays are bound to happen, then it will be easier to keep your cool when it happens. Even if you do feel frustrated, be sure to retain composure in front of your customer. They’re sure to remember your cool-headedness under pressure and will be much more likely to hire you again in the future.

#7 Professionalism

Last but not least is professionalism. Expressing yourself in a courteous, professional manner when dealing with customers is absolutely paramount. The customer is essentially handing you the keys to their kingdom when they allow you into their network to repair issues and manage upgrades. You should always leave the customer feeling positive about the interaction.

If the customer does not feel comfortable with the work you’re doing or has concerns over your professionalism, they may choose to seek out another vendor for their next issue. However, if you leave them feeling comfortable and secure about their network being in your hands, the exact opposite can occur: they won’t want anyone but your team handling their issues.

There are many other traits that can help you on the road to becoming a successful field engineer, and no two circumstances or situations are the same, so some may come into play more than others in certain instances. However, focusing on these seven characteristics will help lay a strong foundation that can be built upon, and will put you on the right track to ensuring your success in the field.


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