What is a Field Engineer? Is there a difference between a Field Engineer and a Service Engineer?
As IT systems become more widely implemented across all industries, the need for field engineers has also become more important.
In this article, we will explain the main job scope of field engineers in greater detail, especially those within the energy and infrastructure industries. We will also cover the qualifications and skills required, and the future job prospects for field engineers in Japan.
What is a Field Engineer and its job description?
Field engineers work in a wide range of industries, from IT to those that install, maintain, and service equipment in the energy and infrastructure industries, which are collectively referred to as field engineering.
The main job descriptions of field engineers vary depending on the industry, but they mainly include the following:
- Product troubleshooting: Handles problems with manufacturing machinery, robots, and other products.
- Installation support: Support for installation and setup when products are delivered.
- Maintenance: Perform periodic inspections and maintenance.
- Product sales: Provide product explanations to prospective customers who are interested in the company's products and encourage them to install the products.
As a field engineer with little experience, you will often be assigned to visit users of the company's products or client sites to perform periodic inspections of equipment. As field engineers start to gain more experience, they are also expected to take on responsibilities such as installing, configuring, repairing malfunctions, and troubleshooting any problems with equipment.
Field Engineers vs Service Engineers
Similar to field engineers, service engineers also provide support for maintenance and troubleshooting at customer sites. Although they have different names, their duties are often the same. Field engineers can usually a generic term for service engineers and customer engineers.
For example, a service engineer works closely with customers to install, maintain, and provide after-sales support for products, and often accompanies salespeople to provide sales support. Field engineers’ jobs are not limited to these areas but includes all aspects of customer support relating to product installation. For this reason, service engineers are often described as field engineers, especially those with a sales support component.
Advantages of working as a Field Engineer
Some of the major advantages of working as a field engineer include:
- Close proximity to customers
- A sense of fulfilment and responsibility, as it is directly related to customer satisfaction
- Opportunity to improve your ability to respond to users and increase your knowledge of IT and products
- Develop good communication skills
- Helping people in need
In recent years, an increasing number of IT companies have begun to think more strategically about customer service. There has also been an increasing number of foreign companies that have been able to accelerate their business by reviewing the role of field engineers and having them help with improving customer satisfaction. As such, the ability to contribute greatly to business growth while acquiring engineering knowledge and skills is one of the major attractions of field engineer jobs.
Skills and qualifications required for Field Engineers
The skills required for field engineers include the following:
- Communication skills based on listening to customers’ needs and preferences
- Ability to respond flexibly
- Ability to handle complaints, problem solving, and be resilient
- Knowledge of equipment design and construction
If you have experience in customer negotiation as you were previously in a sales job, this will be a major selling point for you during the interview process as field engineers also have to deal directly with users. In addition, there will be times when field engineers have to handle complaints and problem-solving while dealing with users, so a high level of communication skills, problem solving ability, and a certain degree of resilience would be needed.
Knowledge of design and structure is also required when repairing products and identifying problems, so experience in production processes is a plus.
Although there are no required qualifications for field engineers, it is a good idea to obtain the following certifications to ensure a smooth transition into this role:
- Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certification
- Mechanical design engineer examination
- IT passport examination
- Communication certification test
- Regular driver's license
It is recommended that you obtain these certifications through self-study or via a vocational school, especially if you aim to become a field engineer and have no experience.
Annual income of Field Engineers
The average annual salary for field engineers in 2021 is approximately ¥4.9 million for full-time employees. Although it varies slightly depending on skills, experience, location, industry, and other factors, field engineers tend to enjoy a higher than average annual salary in Japan. In addition, as field engineers improve on technical skills, expand the range of fields to handle, and eventually become able to mentor and manage younger employees within the company, there will be more chances to further increase their annual salary.
In the free salary guide below, you will find the annual salary range for each job category based on our research. Please take a moment to review the salary rates for field engineers and other related jobs in Japan.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Field Engineers
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers about field engineer jobs:
Is it true that "field engineer jobs are hard work"?
Field engineer jobs are often described as "demanding”. Whether or not you actually find it hard depends on your skills and aptitude, so it is hard to determine what is "hard work", but some of the reasons why field engineer jobs are said to be hard include:
- You never know when trouble may occur, and you may be asked to work outside of your working hours.
- Mental strain due to the need to respond quickly.
- Expertise in the industries involved (IT, energy, infrastructure, etc.) is essential.
- Heavy responsibility as you are the face of the company.
There is always a risk of unexpected problems in a field engineer job in Japan, and there is the challenge that you may be required to take immediate action when a problem occurs. However, the need for after-hours support and working on holidays varies by company and position. If this is an area of concern, check with the company when applying for a field engineer job. But this is also the reason why field engineers can often gain an in-depth understanding of things that are difficult to learn on your own as they learn a lot on the job.
Although field engineering may seem "demanding" to some people, it is a career that will help you grow as an engineer. If you have the desire to help customers in need, and want to develop your career by pursuing relevant experience and skills, you will find field engineering jobs to be a very rewarding position.
Do field engineer jobs in Japan have a good career prospect?
Field engineers are often referred to as the "gateway to an engineering career path" and are a great way to start your engineering career in the energy infrastructure and manufacturing industries. Field engineers are required to have a high level of technical and communication skills in order to accurately identify and respond to problems, which is an essential skill for career advancement. In addition, by understanding what users without specialised knowledge are trying to convey, you will be able to provide support that is more in tune with them and thereby improve your communication skills. This will also help you later on when you aim to advance your career as an engineer in Japan.
In addition, the demand for field engineers is expected to continue to rise as the use of software and IT for manufacturers expands in a wide range of industries. Particularly in the manufacturing industry, the role field engineers play in ensuring the stable operation of manufacturing machinery is also becoming increasingly important. Beyond that, systems are becoming more sophisticated with the use of artificial intelligence and other technologies. Field engineers with specialised knowledge and skills relating to new technologies and products will no doubt play an increasingly important role in maintenance, troubleshooting, and other support activities.
The demand for field engineers in the energy and infrastructure industry is also expected to increase, especially in the renewable energy sector, where many positions, including field engineer jobs, are becoming available.
Is it possible to become a field engineer with no experience?
Specific steps you can take to become a field engineer with no experience include:
- Learn the relevant skills and knowledge at a technical school or other vocational schools
- Learn the necessary knowledge and skills by joining a company
- Learn via self-study modes
Field engineers often provide support for the company's products, and there are many areas that can be acquired through training after joining the company. Basic knowledge of the industry is of course necessary, but enrolment in a technical school is not mandatory. If you choose to study on your own, it is a good idea to attain the above-mentioned qualifications that are good to have.
Are you looking for field engineer jobs in Japan or would like to find out more about how you can transition into that?
If you are looking for a position where you can acquire the skills and experience necessary for your future career as an engineer, this is a highly recommended role for you even if you have no experience in the industry.
Progressive Recruitment has a wide range of exciting opportunities with foreign companies in the energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing industries. If you are interested to find out more about these roles or career prospects for yourself, please browse our latest job openings below or contact us using the form at the bottom of this page.