IT Field Service Engineers – who is under most pressure in 2022?

Why are there so many IT Field Service Engineers, and what were the developments and inventions which led to them being needed?

We covered this in the two previous blogs, and here are the links:

https://thefieldengineer.com/blog/general/it-field-service-engineers-where-did-they-come-from/

https://thefieldengineer.com/blog/general/it-field-service-engineers-part-2/

It is difficult to estimate how many Field Engineers there are working on servers globally. Their roles vary significantly in scope as there are so many different types of servers:

Application server
Collaboration server
Database server
Domain name system (DNS) server
File server
File transfer protocol (FTP) server
Gaming server
Mail server
Monitoring and management server
Print server
Proxy server
Virtual machine (VM) server
Web server

The Field Engineers may be working on different pieces of equipment in a variety of locations but they share the same challenges.   The things which cause stress and additional pressure are:

Environment
Which can be cramped, hot, cold, dusty, toxic and may mean that bulky protective clothing has to be worn. Cleanrooms although not unpleasant demand specific clothing and shoe coverings which make it more difficult to see and to move.

Deadlines
Whether unrealistic or realistic, there is always pressure from the moment the job starts and the clock starts ticking. On some jobs there may be a need to complete roll-out or changeover by the time normal work hours begin. Time moves very quickly when this is the case!

Monetary
There is often a huge amount of money resting on the fix, and for each hour of downtime there is a related cost. The more money at stake, the greater the number of people who will be watching the Engineer’s progress.

Cutting edge technology
Working in a constantly changing and developing field means that no two fixes are the same. Although this makes the job very interesting, it results in there being fewer people to ask for help and advice. It also means that there is probably never going to be an ‘easy’ or quick job.

Medical environment
There is an added pressure when working in a hospital as lives and wellbeing can be at stake. The staff may be very busy and under pressure themselves. The workspace can be very cramped.

Body clock
As servers break down at any point in the day or night, so engineers must work 24/7. Shift working suits some people more than others, but it takes adjustment and lifestyle changes for everyone.

Logistics
Travelling, finding somewhere to park, moving heavy equipment, lack of ramps or lifts all lead to extra pressure and potential time delays. In some cases travel can be very time consuming if the site location is remote.

Skills
Because computer hardware and software technologies are constantly being improved, and new product released, IT Service Engineers need to stay updated constantly and consistently. Once qualified, there is not much breathing space before skills need to be refreshed or new ones learnt.

Unix has remained important for decades, but networking standards like Novell Netware and Banyan Vines (based on XNS protocol), and IBM’s OS/2, disappeared a long time ago. Once qualified, there is not much breathing space before skills need to be refreshed or new ones learnt.
A few IT Service Engineers can find a niche in servicing obsolete equipment that is still being used in mission critical equipment. They can charge a high price, because so few people are still familiar with how these old systems work!

Downtime
When something is installing or updating, there is often nothing else to do, but most Engineers feel that they need stay nearby and look busy.

Self-fixing problems
Every Engineer has encountered an issue that fixes mysteriously just before they arrive, and so have to decide whether to leave immediately or to doublecheck a fully functioning system.

Established team
Some field engineers go on site and work as part of an established team. For example, the maintenance crew of a warehouse or factory. This works well at times but is not always smooth as there are numerous personalities involved.

High Security Institutions
There will additional security even to get through the door. This can slow the progress of the job.

What will change in the future?
How will the work that IT Field Service Engineers do develop?
How much is the gig economy affecting careers?

https://www.computinghistory.org.uk/

https://computerhistory.org/

CompTIA A+ is the industry standard for establishing a career in IT.
It covers 9 skill areas:
• Hardware
• Networking
• Mobile devices
• Operating systems
• Troubleshooting
• Virtualisation and cloud computing
• Software troubleshooting
• Security
• Operational procedures

https://www.comptia.org/certifications/a

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