Maintaining and repairing complex heavy equipment is only part of what makes a career as a field service technician a rewarding choice.
Interested in a high-demand job that indulges your passion for diagnosing and fixing complex machinery and offers significant autonomy and an ever-changing office? As a field service technician in the construction industry, you’ll be tasked with maintaining and repairing a wide variety of equipment and tools.
This is a job for someone who is mechanically inclined, enjoys being on the road, is comfortable working with limited supervision and embraces the thrill of new challenges. So how do you make the leap from interest to employment? Here's what you need to know about becoming a field service technician.
What does a field service technician do?
Construction companies use a variety of heavy equipment and specialized tools that require regular maintenance and occasional repair. Downtime on a project is costly, so fleet managers rely on field service technicians to keep the assets they need in peak operating condition.
It’s the job of a field service technician to maintain and repair mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and diesel systems. Field service technicians are trusted to work independently, use good judgement and demonstrate professionalism with customers.
Field service technician responsibilities
What does a day in the life of a field service technician look like? Below are some common field service technician responsibilities.
Drive to and from customer worksites
Diagnose equipment malfunctions and technical problems and independently determine solutions
Maintain and repair a variety of complex equipment
Provide exceptional customer support and service during field visits
Assist with pick-up and delivery of equipment and parts
Produce timely documentation of all work performed
Make equipment recommendations for customers looking to upgrade their equipment or purchase new equipment
Safely demonstrate the use of equipment and tools
At higher levels, assist in the training of lower-level technicians as needed
Education and training requirements
The first thing you’ll need is a high school diploma or equivalent. If you’re still in high school, pursuing courses in engineering, mathematics and automotive repair will help you prepare for the next steps. From there, you can take one of two paths to acquire the skills you’ll need to secure a position as a field service technician.
Path 1: On-the-job exposure to equipment
The first path is getting a job or apprenticeship at a construction company, heavy equipment manufacturer or rental equipment vendor that gives you exposure to some of the machinery and equipment you’ll one day support in the field. That exposure may be enough to land you an entry-level job as a field service technician.
At United Rentals, a good first step toward becoming a field service technician is taking an Equipment Associate position, which does not require specific training or experience.
Path 2: An associate degree or certification
The second path, which could make you more attractive to potential employers or land you a higher-level position, is pursuing an associate degree or certification (or both) from an accredited trade school, vocational program or community college, ideally in heavy equipment maintenance.
Once you’ve secured a field service technician job, your skills will be improved and expanded by on-the-job training — provided you’re working at a company that offers a comprehensive training and development program. Advancements in complex machinery and tools are inevitable, so keeping pace with the help of additional training and certifications will keep your skills up to date and provide you with additional opportunities for advancement.
Field service technician job requirements
Aside from having the necessary education, training and/or experience, the company that hires you may ask you to:
Have a valid driver’s license and an acceptable driving record
Have a reliable mode of transportation
Own the tools you’ll need to maintain and repair equipment
Be able to frequently lift items up to 45 pounds
Have a flexible schedule that allows you to respond to emergency repair requests, including on evenings and weekends
What is a potential field service technician career path?
Entry-level field service technicians (field service technician I) can grow into higher-level field service technician jobs, such as field service technician II, field service technician III and field service technician IV. From there, you might explore a management position.
United Rentals, which offers the largest rental fleet in the industry, has field service technician positions available from entry-level to experienced. Thanks to the scope of its services and its strong commitment to the career growth of its employees, United Rentals technicians have access to cutting-edge equipment and training. Equipment maintained and repaired may include a scissor lift and generator one day, and a skid steer and excavator the next.
If you’re interested in a management track, United Rentals offers opportunities such as shop foreman and service manager.