Robotics Field Engineer

What is a robotics field engineer?

Robotics field engineers are trained professionals who help build, maintain, and troubleshoot robot hardware, typically working on-site with robots to ensure they’re consistently performing well. Whether they perform daily on-site support for a fleet of robots-as-a-service (RaaS) in a hospital or travel from customer to customer to resolve issues, robot field engineers are a key part of keeping robots working efficiently and safely. So how do you get trained to be a robotics field engineer and, once you are, what are you doing at work?

To understand what a robotics field engineer does, it is important to grasp the role of field engineers in general. Field engineers are engineers who solve problems occurring in customer settings, i.e. once the product or system has been deployed. Robotics field engineers specialize in solving issues where robots are the deployed product or system.

Education and training

Most employers are looking for robotic field engineers who have an electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, or life science degree from a four-year institution. Some employers will accept an associate degree in electronics, computer science, or math, along with a certain number of years of equivalent experience and/or military training. 

In addition to a technical background, employers are also looking for robotics field engineers who have good customer service skills. If you are a field technician, you are likely there because the unexpected has occurred and customers do not like the unexpected, especially from robots. Therefore, great customer service and relationship-building skills are key.

Job responsibilities, requirements, and compensation

Job responsibilities for robotic field service engineers vary widely, typically based on the type of robot needing support. Most robotic field service engineers are expected to be comfortable with hardware. Since most software and networking issues can be solved via remote control capabilities or occur in the cloud, software, and analytics experts are not usually required on-site. 

Below are some real-world job responsibilities for robotic field engineers from various job sites:

  • Install, maintain, and repair equipment from multiple vendors at customer sites ensuring best-in-class service within an established time frame and assigned geographical area.
  • Provide rapid response to customer support requests, initiating troubleshooting and triage of customer-reported product issues.
  • Provide repairs and scheduled maintenance for contract customers, corrective service for non-contract customers, and warranty services that apply to products in the field.
  • Deliver customer training for instrument operation, software, and user maintenance, one-on-one or in smaller group sessions.
  • Deploy and calibrate robotic systems at customer sites.
  • Complete accurate and timely documentation of support case issues, activities, and resolution.
  • Collaborate with support engineers and operations teams to deploy device updates, system upgrades, and relocations at customer sites.
  • Regularly author service documentation and contribute knowledge base articles for technical support and servicing & troubleshooting techniques.
  • Complete ongoing internal/external technical and professional training and development for continuous improvement and further expansion of service skills and delivery.
  • Occasional coordination with laboratory instrumentation and robot third-party device manufacturers to achieve tier 2 and tier 3 issue resolution.
  • Drive to understand customer’s analytical workflow and applications.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of and adherence to the installation, warranty, and service agreement provisions to provide adequate billing information to the customer.
  • Contribute to account profitability by generating revenue and controlling the cost of service through billable labor/travel orders, parts orders, support orders, billable install orders, and consumables.
  • Maintain updated documentation around dispatch, inventory, and service support functions of the job.
  • Perform timely uploads and downloads of required data to ensure the integrity of service system(s).
  • Manage appropriate levels of inventory to ensure adequate supply and records are maintained.

 Below are some things employers are looking for in a robotics field engineer:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in electromechanical/life science/engineering or certification with equivalent experience in lieu of degree.
  • Associate Degree or Technical Degree in Applied Science, Biology, Chemistry, Electronics, Mathematics, Engineering, or related discipline including military training/experience AND two years of industry experience in troubleshooting, repairing, and providing qualification services.
  • Minimum 4 years of direct experience in a field service or customer-facing support role, with a preference for experience in laboratory or industrial automation products, robotics, or laboratory instrumentation field service. In-house automation support/engineering experience will also qualify.
  • HVAC/cooling/environmental experience as well as control software/firmware, computer communications (TCP/IP, RS232), and object-oriented programming experience are advantages
  • Mature customer service skills.
  • Excellent troubleshooting and diagnostic skills.

According to ZipRecruiter, robotics field engineer annual salaries range from $74,500 to $151,000. The wide range of base pay shows room for career advancement within the robot field engineer role. For a person who likes to be hands-on and out of the office and has a four-year degree in an associated field or similar equivalent, a career as a robotic field engineer checks all the boxes!