Tim Brickell has worked as a site technician for SOCOTEC Monitoring – formerly ITM Monitoring - for the past six years. Below, Tim discusses what this varied role involves and highlights the essential traits required for anyone thinking about becoming a site technician.
Do you have a typical day?
One of the best things about this job is that no two days are the same. My week is really varied as I travel to sites all over the UK - one day I can be at the Port of Dover and the next at Battersea Power Station. I’ve never been an office person and the reason I left previous roles was that I didn’t enjoy the monotony, so being in different places each day and carrying out a variety of more interesting tasks really appeals to me.
It is difficult to detail what a typical day is like but, as an example, it generally involves travelling to one of the sites we are providing monitoring services for to take manual readings from geotechnical equipment, download data or provide maintenance to on-site sensors. I often have to liaise with the client whilst on-site, to let them know what I’m doing, before heading to the SOCOTEC Monitoring office to process the readings I have gathered. I provide these readings to our technical support team which then get uploaded into Calyx OMS™ – SOCOTEC Monitoring’s data visualisation software – so that reports can be generated for the client and any movement trends flagged up.
How did you become a site technician?
Before I started work at SOCOTEC Monitoring, I worked in a factory and before that a pub. The job title of site technician implies that a level of technical skill is necessary, so some think that specific qualifications or experience are required in order to apply for this kind of role. Actually, you don’t need any specific technical qualifications to get started as a site technician, as training is provided on the job. I receive regular training and instrumentation briefings to ensure that I’m skilled at installing diverse kit on-site and taking monitoring readings, which means I’m able to provide a great service for our clients.
When you first start work as a site technician, you also tend to work alongside someone who has more experience so that they can support and mentor you as you learn about the instrumentation installation process, how to take readings from the instrumentation and the sites you’ll be working on. However, as your knowledge and confidence grow, being a site technician can involve quite a bit of independent working.
Whilst you don’t have to be a technical whizz, a natural interest in technical things is beneficial. Installing the same instrument can vary from job to job, depending on the unique conditions of a site, so being able to think on your feet and apply your knowledge to different situations is a requirement. If I do ever find something a challenge when out on-site, our technical support team is always at the end of the phone and happy to help.
What type of projects do you work on?
A lot of the sites I work on are outside, so you have to be happy to work in rain, shine and, on occasion, snow. Luckily, we have great PPE equipment. I also get to experience working in some really interesting environments, such as in rail tunnels.
One of the jobs I’m working on at the moment is for Network Rail reading inclinometers and standpipes trackside. This requires me to be accompanied by two others, one working as a train lookout – as some of the work takes place on blind corners – and a COSS (controller of site safety) as no work can be done on track without one. Working with Network Rail also requires me to have PTS (Personal Track Safety) certification, which is arranged by SOCOTEC Monitoring as part of my continuing development.
I’m often on-site on my own, collecting readings, maintaining existing instrumentation or installing a new kit, so you have to be motivated enough to work autonomously. The data I collect is vital for our clients as it allows them to make important decisions throughout the construction process, helping them to reduce risk. I like to know that I’m responsible for the accurate collection of this data.
On occasion, a client requires installation to happen during a tight timeframe, which necessitates a team effort to ensure that all works are completed within a strict window of time. So, as well as being happy to work alone, a site technician also really needs to be a team player. Sometimes we can be working in quite extreme conditions, such as high temperatures or in confined spaces, and everyone needs to muck in to get the job done. We are lucky at SOCOTEC Monitoring to have a tight team with great camaraderie.
Any final advice for those thinking about applying for a site technician role at SOCOTEC Monitoring?
If you are not an office person, you enjoy a varied working week and like to work outside, then just apply. All of the technical knowledge can be taught.
To enable comments sign up for a Disqus account and enter your Disqus shortname in the Articulate node settings.