Applications Engineer Job Description

An applications engineer, as the liaison between the sales force and the engineering team, is responsible for a variety of customer relations activities as well as technical support functions.Applications engineers are called upon to handle the technical aspects of customer interactions, including product demonstrations and trainings, and can often be characterized as the product expert of the sales team.Applications engineers also communicate data, news, and product developments to sales, and ferry customer feedback to the engineering and manufacturing teams.

Given the skill set usually required, applications engineers are often experienced in sales as well as the relevant industry and have a history of problem-solving wearing multiple hats. This job is a great move for experienced sales reps looking to reengage their technical side or tech team members looking to expand their customer-relations skills.

 

Applications Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

Applications engineers’ varying responsibilities will depend on the employer’s characteristics, with some duties specialized to particular industries and relevant technologies. Even across highly specialized industries, however, applications engineers have similar customer-centric, sales, and tech support responsibilities, including the following:

Manage Customer Relationships

Applications engineers engage with customers at important points during the tenure of the relationship.During customer interactions, applications engineers must maintain a professional demeanor while projecting as personal, trustworthy, and technically experienced.When customers need assistance, applications engineers are ready to answer the call.

Communicate Customer Feedback

Applications engineers are best positioned to bring customer feedback to the engineering teams, assisting them with product development, refinement, and troubleshooting. Applications engineers are therefore responsible for being technically fluent and knowing the customer’s needs and tendencies.

Research Product Lines and Industry Trends

Applications engineers need to stay current on product lines by monitoring customer trends and competitor activities.Whether attending trade shows, participating in relevant industry groups, or networking within the sales community, applications engineers maintain a comfortable familiarity with the evolving technology market.

Customer Training

Applications engineers are responsible for assisting the sales force with advising and training customers on various product lines and applications. Training may involve on-site visits, virtual training seminars, or in-house training sessions. Applications engineers may help develop training protocols, tailoring them to the customer’s needs.

Product Development

Applications engineers are involved with product design, development, testing, and implementation. In addition to technical expertise, applications engineers bring market trends and customer demands to the development team, helping it customize product lines and services.

 

Applications Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Applications engineers are an active, on-the-go member of a technically sophisticated team, serving a technically sophisticated customer base.As such, they typically need to be proficient in the following skill set:

  • Team collaboration – applications engineers are part of a multidisciplinary team with an array of specialties and experience levels.Part sales team, part tech squad, applications engineers respond calmly and quickly to customers, coordinate effectively with sales personnel, and communicate clearly to the science and engineering experts
  • Time management – applications engineers are often called upon to respond to customer inquiries and requests, sometimes under rigid time frames.They need to work efficiently and effectively to meet customer and business deadlines
  • Social intelligencewith their frequent customer interactions, applications engineers need to read their customers and respond appropriately to their questions and concerns. Sensitivity to customer requests is important to satisfying customer needs
  • Technical communicationapplications engineers are often involved with the development of training programs and materials, presentations and slides, and other product information documentation. The ability to distill complicated concepts to ordinary language and communicate those concepts clearly – orally and in writing – is an asset for any applications engineer
  • Organization skills – applications engineers are responsible for customers, products, sales, and technical support, and are accordingly pulled in many directions at all times. Between these technical demands and the daily sales grind, an applications engineer needs to be highly organized and adept at multitasking

 

Tools of the Trade

Although much of an applications engineer’s work is done either through customer contact or on industry-specific technology, the following tools are important assets:

  • CAD software (SolidWorks, AutoCAD)
  • Customer relationship management tools (Salesforce.com)
  • Microsoft Office products

 

Applications Engineer Education and Training

Applications engineers will typically have a bachelor’s degree in an engineering, science, or a related discipline.Years of experience will vary depending on the job, but most employers require at least two years of relevant experience.Graduate degrees in a related field are helpful, as are licensure and training in management.

 

Applications Engineer Salary and Outlook 

Applications engineers’ median annual salary is most closely approximated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by sales engineers’ stats.The BLS lists the median annual salary for sales engineers at $100,000. Sales engineers in the lowest 10 percent earn about $57,000 a year, and the highest 10 percent make about $167,000 a year.Most employers pay their sales engineers through salary and commission or bonus.The top-paying industries for sales engineers included telecommunications; computer systems design and related services; wholesale electronic markets and agents and brokers; merchant wholesalers; durable goods; and manufacturing.

Sales engineer employment is projected to grow by 7 percent through 2026, a rate the BLS describes about as fast as average for all occupations. As computer systems sales increase, so will the demand for sales and applications engineers.

 

Helpful Resources

For anyone looking to learn more about applications engineers and related industries, the following resources are a great start:

National Society of Professional Engineers – founded in 1934, the NSPE is dedicated to addressing the professional concerns of licensed engineers across all industries

National Association of Programmers – NAP is committed to providing certification programs and work opportunities to all professionals and students in the computer industry, from consultants and engineers to programmers and developers

Coding Horror – run by the co-founder of Stack Overflow, this blog talks about coding in the professional world

Scott Hanselman – this popular programming blog is run by industry expert and programmer Scott Hanselman

SalesforceBlog – stay on top of the latest news in customer relationship management with this blog run by Salesforce

Mastering Technical Sales: The Sales Engineer’s Handbook– here readers will find current techniques for technical sales professionals

The Evolving Sales Engineeralthough this book was published in 2007, it’s still a helpful and relevant guide to technical sales

 

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