December 12, 2018
In the past, I worked as a typical networking field engineer for a relatively large telecom company in the United Kingdom. I received jobs from my employer, went out with my van and my tools and installed anything from wireless routers to fiber systems in the customer’s home. It was a rather decent paying job that paid the bills and it got me out into the field to build up experience.
It was admittedly a stale job and the monotony can really get to you because you’re doing the same thing over and over again, just with a few different faces to spice up the mix. Occasionally, I’d be called out to the wrong location and that would be just about as exciting as it got. It wasn’t exactly a very lucrative job and it wasn’t interesting enough to make me stay.
So, a few years ago, I decided to throw in the towel and call it quits with my regular job. I worked freelance gigs for a while, doing everything from installing network and wireless systems to even helping people install security systems. Eventually, I found myself working in the field doing pretty much anything, building up experience and also a network of clientele that would offer me regular service. I got most of the pay (a chunk of it went to taxes–something I’m still getting used to as a self-employed engineer) and my clients were happy that I could deliver on-demand services at a reduced price.
It was good for a while, but then my client list dried up and I was left with unstable income, once again going back to doing menial jobs that I wanted to get away from.
I discovered Field Engineer after a friend of mine (who was also part of the same company that I worked for) recommended I sign up and give it a try. The idea made a lot of sense–a global marketplace for talent such as my own, a way for me to offer my expertise to not just national businesses, but even international clients that needed help setting up their presence in another country. It was a fantastic opportunity to stretch my knowledge and give me a chance to build a fresh list of clientele and leads for work.
It’s been some time since I first started taking jobs with Field Engineer, and they’ve invited me to write a short piece so that prospective engineers can get a good understanding of what it’s like to be in my shoes–those of an engineer that managed to get out of the monotony of working for a large telecom company to take control of their own career path.
06:30 - Wake up
Supposedly, one of the best things about being a freelancer is that you can wake up and do your work when you want. I disagree with this because you do NOT want to sink into bad habits, hence why I stick to a very regular and normal sleep schedule
07:00 - Login to my dashboard
The great thing about Field Engineer is that it’s all done in the cloud. You don’t need to download anything and you can even work from a laptop that you carry in your tool bag or even a tablet device. Very convenient and honestly one of the best things about the service. I’ll log in, check my jobs for the day and express interest for any jobs that may have been posted if they’re in my area.
07:15 - Check with clients
Sometimes, clients may want to get in touch with you to tell you more details about the job or give you the details of the person you’ll be seeing. This can take a while depending on how many jobs you have planned for the day.
07:30 - Check my gear
I’ll make sure I have everything in my van before I set off. I’ll plot my route for all the jobs, I’ll ensure my laptop is fully charged and that I have a fully charged battery bank to use with it. I’ll check that my tools are all in the right place and then I’ll set off, picking up a bit of breakfast on the way.
08:00 - Off to work
Now that all of my stuff is ready, I’m good to go. I’ll head to the first stop, picking up a bit of food on the way and work until lunchtime. The great thing about Field Engineer is that you can pick and choose how much work you do. Sometimes I’ll skip out on lunch if I want to take on more jobs, and at other times I’ll be back home before lunch so I can relax for the rest of the day. It really all depends and this part of my schedule will really be flexible depending on what I’m doing.
15:00 - Stop working
I personally set myself a limit of working a maximum of 7 hours. You can easily do more if you want, but I prefer to have normal working hours despite being freelance. If I have a doctor’s appointment, birthday or something else that takes place in the middle of the day, then I’ll take that time off and make it up another day by working in the evening. From here on, I’ll have dinner, relax and prepare for the next day of working, making sure all my tools are in order.
I personally make anywhere between £50.00 to £200.00 per day depending on how active I was and how many jobs I took on. Converted to dollars, this is around $63.00 to $255.00. Some jobs are more complicated and take more time, but they end up paying more, and you’ll occasionally get an easy job that requires you to travel a long distance but ends up paying quite a good amount.
It’s all very flexible and you’ll eventually learn to pick out the jobs that are within your specialty and pay well for the time spent. Do keep in mind that travelling can be costly and you’ll need your own tools unless the client specifies something such as picking up a certain type of hardware to use. Field Engineer is very flexible and differs from day to day, making it one of the best companies I’ve ever worked for.
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