On any given day at cancer treatment facilities, oncology medical equipment needs servicing. And, when it breaks down unexpectedly, stress can be high for medical staff members.

Military Veterans To Fill the Role Of Field Service Engineers

That’s why RS&A, Inc. (Radiotherapy Simulators & Accelerators) highly prizes military veterans to fill the role of Field Service Engineers (FSE), says Vice President of Operations Kerry L. Price. The company, headquartered near Winston-Salem, N.C., specializes in the onsite service, repair, refurbishing, parts, sales and installation of linear accelerators, simulators and other oncology medical equipment.

“Sometimes this is a stressful environment, and our employees have to always rise above the stress and make sure the customer is serviced. The end customer is the patient. When the doctors and staff are calling and stressed over the equipment, we need someone who can talk with them with confidence to reassure them we will resolve the issue,” Price says.

Many companies that use field service engineers feel the same way about military veterans, says Dr. Mike Echols, Executive Vice President at Bellevue University’s Human Capital Lab in Bellevue, Neb. The Lab does studies and research with companies including Verizon Wireless, Baylor Health System, ACI, Sun Microsystems, Convergys and others. The job outlook is positive for “investment installations” (i.e., servicing high-tech equipment in everything from warehouses to medical facilities), he says. And, veterans are coveted for these roles, because “they’re trained to respond on the spot” to emergency breakdowns.

“In their role, the client is intense, because the operation is at risk. Military personnel are psychologically accustomed to this. In the military, it’s the life that’s at stake. When they’re going to the client, the person is in a high state of anxiety with a major piece of equipment down. They’re well trained in dealing with this,” Echols says.

Employers seek the cool reaction of veterans under pressure, because that is a defining quality that sets companies apart from competitors, says Don McGrath, Senior Vice President of Communications at power management company, Eaton Corp.

“(Veterans) have a sense of mission accomplishment and sense of duty. They follow through on assignments, tasks and responsibilities and know the team depends on that. And, they work through the tasks and stressful conditions,” says McGrath, a retired Army Lt. Col.

Here is the sampling of four companies that are in need of this uniquely skilled type of veteran:

Eaton, Inc.

– The Job: Provide installation, startup, maintenance, repair, training and modification on power transmission, distribution and generation equipment and systems, says George Bernloehr, Senior Military Talent Acquisition Consultant. FSEs must be capable of self-managing assigned projects for electrical equipment, including a working knowledge of electrical test and diagnostic equipment.

– The Hiring Outlook: Eaton currently employs more than 300 field service engineers and technicians. The Electrical Engineering Services division has been steadily growing for more than 15 years. “We expect to see that trend continue as the existing installed base continues to demand maintenance and repair, and new building construction provides new opportunities for installation and startup,” Bernloehr says. FSEs can develop their careers into various new roles, including inside and outside sales roles, district support engineers, field service team leaders and district operating center managers.

– How Military Skills Dovetail: Veterans possess “core values, service mentality, leadership, learning agility, flexibility and education,” Bernloehr says.


General Electric Co.

– The Job: In GE’s Healthcare business, two types of field engineering jobs are available: those for medical imaging technologies and those for various hospital pieces of equipment, says Adam Holton, Senior Human Resources Manager, Global Service (Healthcare). Education qualifications are an associate’s degree, or a high school diploma with requisite experience in the field or related fields.

In GE’s Energy Management business, FSEs install, commission and service a wide variety of electrical equipment. In energy applications, those include wind turbines, solar plants, gas turbine, hydro, etc. In industrial applications, those include steel mills, data centers and paper mills. And in marine applications, those include merchant ships, Navy ships and cruise ships, says Pete Bierden, Senior Executive – Services (Energy Management). Most field engineers have a degree in electrical engineering, but some are hired with relevant technical experience, including military experience.

– The Hiring Outlook: GE has about 3,000 Field Engineers in Healthcare. In any given year, depending on attrition and growth, it hires 150 to 300 new field engineers. In Energy Management, the company has about 1,000 FSEs and plans on hiring about 150 in 2014. “For those who want to make a career out of being a field engineer, that is an attractive option. The role is incredibly important, pays well and constantly changes over time as technology evolves. For those who want to build their career in other roles, the field engineer role allows them to build a foundation and be ready for any number of other roles in the field service organization,” Holton says.

– How Military Skills Dovetail: “Veterans bring all of the intangibles that we are looking for in our field service personnel – commitment, discipline, ability to get things done and loyalty (to customers and GE), just to name a few. But as well, the U.S. military is increasingly giving service members great technical skills in fields that are readily transferable to field engineer jobs,” Holton says.

Hitachi HVB, Inc.

– The Job: “While we prefer electrical or mechanical degrees we will accept candidates that have that type experience for Level I, II and III field service technicians. Qualified personnel should be willing to travel up to 80 percent primarily domestically. Excellent written and communication skills are required as direct customer contact and documentation are crucial to success,” says Stephanie Hayden, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

– The Hiring Outlook: The FSE department has seven to nine representatives, who are all direct employees. “I would expect to fill two positions next year,” Hayden says. In addition to the field service techs, the department also has a manager, an assistant manager and two sales associates. “We also promote these guys into sales, QA and engineering positions,” she says.

– How Military Skills Dovetail: “They are usually self-starters with great documentary experience and used to on the job training,” Hayden says.


RS&A, Inc.

– The Job: Service linear accelerators and simulators at customers’ sites with minimal supervision. Perform routine service and preventative maintenance, establish and maintain proper business relationships with customers and peers, as well as perform necessary daily administrative duties accurately. Engineers work from their homes and have three to six primary site responsibilities.

“These are sophisticated, linear accelerators that produce a prescription dose of radiation to treat cancer patients. The engineers deal with all kinds of issues, from something that’s minor that won’t impede the patient’s schedule to something that is breaking to the point where they can’t operate it. And they do periodic maintenance,” Price says. “It does have its up-and-down cycles. A typical engineer works from 30 hours to 60 hours a week – the 60 hours if they’re running pretty hard. There are a lot of variables.”

– The Hiring Outlook: “We have over 30 employees at this moment, and out of those, 19 are service engineers,” Price says. “In the past year, we have hired five service engineers, and we have a strong outlook for next year, when we will need an additional 10. We’re fully national and cover all the way from Nebraska to Florida, up to the East coast into D.C. and Maryland. Each engineer has a primary responsibility of customers in a market area. When we hire engineers, typically, it will be in another market. We place them where our growth is. For example, right now, we are putting them in Virginia, Maryland, possibly in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nebraska, Alabama and Florida.”

– How Military Skills Dovetail: The typical military engineer has a strong electronic and mechanical background, Price says. “If someone works in radars, or if they work in an environment where they had electronics and also mechanical work – when I say mechanical, I mean water chilling systems or cooler systems from the Navy – they should have basic troubleshooting skills in electronics.”

Additionally, the company is interested in anyone with an avionics background or electronics in radars or who has strong computer skills combined with electronics knowledge and experience.

Heidi Lynn Russell writes about employment and business issues.

Go to www.TADPGS.com, click on the “Looking for People” tab, then view “Veterans Solutions” to see more for information on our Veterans Solutions for Employers. Please join our LinkedIn group, Veterans Hiring Solutions for Veterans and Companies at http://linkd.in/Sg346w. If you have specific questions about hiring veterans or the incentives for doing so, contact me at [email protected].