What does a Field Tester do?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A field tester is a person who tests a product or a piece of equipment under the actual conditions in which it is intended for us. Field testers are responsible for assessing and reporting on the performance of a product. They are also often asked to make suggestions to improve the products that they work with. For example, a company that makes fishing rods might hire a field tester to use the rods while fishing for a specific period of time and then report back about the performance of each model that is being tested. The field tester in this instance would have to be a person who had spent a great deal of time fishing and knew the related product lines well.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

In order to conduct a thorough field test, the product should be used in all of the conditions for which it is intended. If a sleeping bag is designed for use in a specific range of temperatures, a field tester will report on the performance of the product at numerous points within that range, especially the most extreme points in the range. By doing this kind of work, a field tester helps a company back up claims about its products with data. This work also helps to identify weaknesses and malfunctions in a product before it goes to market.

In order to become a field tester, one must have thorough knowledge of a certain kind of product. This knowledge can come from years of working with a specific kind of product and understanding the construction and manufacturing processes that go into the creation of the product. Someone who has never gone on a single hunting trip, for example, could not do an adequate job as a field tester for hunting gear. A field tester must also be observant and be able to compile detailed reports as per the needs of his or her employer.

Sometimes a manufacturing company will use members of their research and development teams to run field tests on specific products. This means that this sort of testing may be rolled into a larger job description that encompasses other responsibilities as well. This is quite common in smaller companies where employees have to wear a number of different hats. Other large companies have an entire staff to be completely focused on completing field tests and reporting back to the development sector with advice on improving the products.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

gravois

I had a friend that was an experienced outdoorsman. He got a gig with a company that made top of the line clothes and sleeping bags and tents for camping. They had developed a new synthetic material that was supposed to blow the competition out of the water.

They hired my friend on as a field tester. Here was the catch though. He wasn't testing their products, he was testing the competition. He was basically supposed to go out and find out everything that was annoying, inadequate, ineffective or poorly designed on the competitions products. He went out and used this stuff in pretty intense outdoor conditions and noted when it broke down.

The company used this to improve their own products and also as a marketing gimmick. They had a whole line of ads that showed the gear my buddy had used all torn up and broken down. It was kind of sneaky but I bet it sold a bunch of camping gear.

whiteplane

I have always wanted to be a field tester for video games. What could be better than getting played to play new games all day long?

I know that these jobs are real and that there are more of them then you would expect. Unfortunately, there are still not many.

I have been trying to break into this industry for years with basically no luck whatsoever. I guess these is a lot of competition and these jobs are not spread out across the country. I haven't give up hope though. If I stick with it it will happen for me one day.

nextcorrea

My family was involved in a certain kind of field test when I was a kid. Our neighbor was an executive at Kraft Foods. They are the kings of processed foods and they are always coming out with new products.

Every week or two he would drop by and give us some of the new foods they had developed. We would try them out and them give him some informal impressions when he brought the new batch over.

His thinking was this. We were a family of five and pretty representative of an average American family. If we liked something or thought it was clever, or tasty, or well designed or whatever it must have some merits. If we didn't like it it must have some problems.

Obviously Kraft was carrying out these same kinds of tests in a more formal setting with lots and lots of other people. Our neighbor just wanted an extra opinion. We appreciated the free food and I remember liking most of what he brought by. Of course when you are a 10 year old boy almost everything tastes good

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