What's a field service engineer worth?

Education was one of the themes you could find at the Pack Expo show this year. At one conference session this morning, the discussion centered on training of service technicians and field service engineers. The comment by one speaker was that field service personnel are in high demand, particularly those coming into the industry with four-year degrees. Starting salaries, at least on the west coast, are in the $55,000 to $60,000 range, he says. People with two-year degrees are also in demand for this area, though the starting range is a little less.

But another speaker then piped up and said, that's a problem. The starting salary for some truck drivers is higher than for these sorts of technical personnel. "It's a problem when the people hauling the stuff around can make more than the people who are responsible for producing it," he said.

There was another interesting observation when the discussion turned to means of getting kids interested in manufacturing or industrial jobs. Said one panel member: "Factories are those things that are surrounded by a berm and a high barbed-wire fence, where there are security guards to keep you out, and where there are no windows. That's not an image that make's you want to work in a factory if you are a kid. We've asked members of our industrial group if they would allow kids to come in and see the inside of their plants to help get past this image. Pretty much the answer has been 'no.'"

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