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Lead Field Technician

UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Wallingford, Oxfordshire
£36,245 – £38,463
Closing date
29 Jun 2024

UKCEH is looking for experienced Lead Field Technicians to join our 600-strong team, contributing to scientific discovery and generating the data, insights and solutions that researchers, businesses and governments need to solve complex environmental challenges. 

Working at UKCEH is rewarding. Our science makes a real difference, enabling people and the environment to prosper, and enriching society. We are the custodians of a wealth of environmental data, collected by UKCEH and its predecessors over the course of more than 60 years.  

As a valued member of our team, you’ll get: 

  • 27 days annual leave, rising to 29 days after five years  
  • 10% employer pension contribution 
  • Enhanced maternity and paternity leave (subject to qualifying requirements) 
  • 24 hour, 365-day access to support with physical, mental, social, health or financial issues plus access to our trained Welfare Officers 
  • Flexible working opportunities and much more... 

Are you technically curious, enjoy tackling challenges, and like the sound of introducing new and innovative engineering solutions to support our environmental science? 

We are recruiting for three Lead Field Technicians to join our dynamic and multi-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers, and play a vital part in leading and implementing a new flagship Floods and Droughts Research Infrastructure (FDRI) project ( is a pioneering and ground-breaking science initiative which has secured a £38 million investment to establishing and advancing hydrological science and infrastructure nationwide; with the aim of bolstering the nation's ability to adapt to and withstand floods and droughts. You will be joining us at an exciting time as we begin this project.

This presents an exciting opportunity for individuals showcasing a strong grasp of environmental monitoring sensor systems to support and lead a team in developing and deploying cutting-edge sensors and instrumentation across diverse field locations nationwide.

It's also an ideal opportunity for those with proven team leadership experience, poised to take the next step in their career. Initially, you'll collaborate closely with colleagues in workshop and office settings, transitioning to fieldwork in following year as the project develops.  

You’ll work closely with our Technical Project Manager to design and deploy systems at remote field sites and address site-specific installation requirements, (e.g., in river mountings, forest eddy covariance evaporation flux towers, reservoir evaporation buoys), off-grid power requirements (primarily solar) and data transmission via various telemetry methods. In addition, you will oversee the translation of scientific monitoring needs outlined by scientists into dependable, low-maintenance automated sensor networks. You will lead the transition from prototype installations to developing comprehensive protocols for installation, maintenance, and calibration. These protocols will be managed and refined through the design office to ensure precision and efficiency.

Your main responsibilities will include:  

  • Train and mentor technicians within the team 
  • Work collaboratively with lead scientists, to develop new environmental monitoring sensor systems 
  • Construct, wire, program, test and deploy new systems
  • Lead responsive and planned maintenance visits for automated field instrument systems (data loggers, sensors, telemetry, and data collection server) 
  • Visit nationwide field sites for new system installations and training, fault resolution and decommissioning (averaging at around 100 field site days per annum, some requiring overnight stays, lone working and team visits) 
  • Maintain mobile instrumentation, oversee temporary deployments, train less experienced users and manage remote deployments
  • Procurement - of parts and ready-made systems
  • Improve data capture and data quality performance, reducing operational costs and minimising data gaps
  • Keep up with available/emerging innovative technologies and best practice for sensor networks
  • Maintain and write thorough documentation of working procedures, calibrations, inventory etc.

This is a highly collaborative role and would suit someone who enjoys a variable workload and excels independently, resourceful in their approach and are passionate about innovation and problem-solving to investigate and resolve module-level faults. You'll work closely with a team of experts across diverse fields including scientists, other workshop technicians, and aiding in the guidance of junior field technicians, alongside our Procurement team and suppliers. As such this role necessitates adaptability and an openness to embracing varying work styles, approaching challenges with patience and an understanding of differing priorities and focuses.

You’ll be joining a leading independent, not-for-profit research institute that’s committed to recruiting talented people like you, progressing your career and giving you the support you need to thrive at UKCEH. 


Check out some of the projects our Lead Field Technicians have been involved with:




For the role of Lead Field Technician, we’re looking for somebody who has: 

  • A technical qualification at BTEC level or degree (or equivalent work experience)
  • A broad understanding of field data logger hardware (or similar data acquisition hardware), hydrological or other environmental field sensors, and their maintenance requirements
  • The ability to work with technical drawings, schematics and wiring routing diagrams of a sensor station, network or mesh network
  • Experience of programming data loggers, interfacing sensors and telemetry networks - including various methods and comms protocols e.g., IoT connectivity, 4G/5G, Satellite, WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRaWAN, MQTT
  • An appreciation for the importance of accurate data management and version control
  • Experience delivering fieldwork activities safely in remote outdoor environments year-round, with experience of Safe Systems of Work in the field/Lone Working Safety
  • Comfort with occasional work at heights
  • Knowledge and experience of workshop and lab safety practices in the UK
  • A full driving licence is essential, as well as a willingness to be occasionally away from home overnight to visit field sites across the UK (some overseas travel may be required)

Desirable Skills:

  • Previous experience working within an environmental, academic, scientific or research environment
  • Programming in R or Python
  • IP and serial bus networked sensors and basic computer/sensor networking configuration
  • Configuring and deploying telemetry systems (GPRS/mobile and satellite)
  • Sensor network experience
  • Knowledge of quality management systems (i.e., ISO9001)

This infrastructure project is in its initial stages so it offers flexibility and scope to develop innovative technologies which will have a wide-ranging impact on our team and organisation as a whole. Due to community-oriented nature of this role, we are looking for someone who is meticulous in research, testing and reporting, and understands the requirement to provide evidence-based justification to support decision making.

We'll provide the workshop, tools, PPE, vehicles, and continuous training, and in exchange, we're seeking your enthusiasm, inquisitiveness, and collaborative spirit. Alternatively, within this recruitment drive, there's potential for individuals experienced but still honing these skills and seeking growth.

If we’ve just described you, we’d love to meet. Apply now. 


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