How to Become an Application Engineer: Skills, Requirements, and Career Guide
Application engineering is a rapidly growing field that requires a unique blend of technical and interpersonal skills. Application engineers design and develop software applications, ensuring that they meet the specific needs of end-users. With the rise of technology, the demand for skilled application engineers has increased dramatically.
If you're interested in pursuing a career in application engineering, this guide will provide you with an overview of the skills and requirements necessary for success in the field, as well as the career paths available to application engineers. Whether you're just starting out or looking to transition into application engineering, this guide will help you understand what it takes to become a successful application engineer.
What is an Application Engineer?
Application engineers understand all a products' use cases, features and advantages to technically support clients or internal users. While it's a common mistake to assume "application" is short for mobile apps, in this case application means the practical use of a product or feature.
Contrary to their name, application engineers do not generally write code. However, they have a deep understanding of individual company product software structure and source code. The application engineer is also vital to a company as a tester and evaluator of software products.
Often application engineers serve as a project manager and communications specialist between customers and the development team, but manage the smaller issues themselves. They use feedback provided by customers to respond to shifting demands and guide software development.
Common tasks performed by an application engineer include scrubbing unnecessary code and making technical documents to explain the content of the code. Sometimes they also give presentations and demonstrations to internal and external teams.
This job tends to sit under both the engineering and sales umbrellas.
Responsibilities of an Application Engineer
What does an Application Engineer do?
Application engineers work with a team or client counterpart to collect or analyze qualitative and quantitative data from a software product (otherwise known as an application). They spend a great deal of time reading and analyzing customer feedback to look for and brainstorm ways to improve an overall product or feature.
Sometimes application engineers double as QA (quality assurance) engineers, and will review product code and performance to troubleshoot and spot issues. They also recommend improvements.
Arguably the most important task of the application engineer is creation of technical documentation around product features and overall usability. This documentation needs to be clear enough to be understood by executives, but often robust enough to inform engineers and technical readers.
Difference between Application Engineers and Software Engineers
Application engineers differ from other software engineers in that an application engineer is more of a sales and account management position. Application engineers work to make sure their company's product is working for their set of clients.
If you're looking for a more traditional engineering role, try these:
Frontend Engineer | Backend Engineer | Fullstack Engineer
Do I need a degree to be an Application Engineer?
This is a tricky role, because it requires a knowledge of programming but does not require programming. We recommend observing the job listings individually to determine the training requirements. Bootcamps are the most popular way to break into this field, and a college degree is often NOT required. Or recommended, frankly.
Job descriptions will often mention a requirement of something STEM related, but more often than not these roles are filled by bootcamp graduates or those with impressive portfolios.
If you're new here to bridged, we're glad to meet you! We are huge fans of alternate forms of education, and recommend specific certifications to target skills.
Our Favorite Application Engineering Certifications
Application engineering certifications are a tough to find, because a lot of this role is soft-skills with clients and engineer communications. However, to get a leg up to apply for jobs, we recommend some high-level engineering
Complete Web Developer Bootcamp
This course is one of Udemy's most popular, and has had almost 800 thousand students. Learn the fundamentals of coding for building responsive websites, and finish with a completed application as a portfolio project (huge plus!).
At the price point of $24, we highly recommend this course to see if developing websites is for you!
React JS- Complete Guide for Frontend Web Development
We are huge fans of React JS-- and this is a great course to learn it. Udemy covers the fundamentals of frontend engineering, including HMTL5, React JS and some popular programming basics.
This class is part of the java & software engineering fundamentals program from Duke University, hosted on Coursera. This is also a little more developer-heavy, but Duke is a premium name, and the certificate from completion will shine on resumes.
Salary and Career Potential
Entry Level Application Engineer Salary
We've aggregated thousands of salaries across glassdoor and linkedin, and application engineers can make anywhere between 65k - 75k, depending on their location and skillsets.
Career Path of a Application Engineer
While this sample career path is very common in the tech industry, application engineers can have a range of roles and responsibilities. Some of them are closer to engineering, while others are closer to sales. We chose the sales path because it's more common, but some go on to be frontend or QA engineers if they have a knack for programming.
- Application Engineer: Spend about 2-4 years at either level here.
- Account Executive: Spend about 3-5 years here.
- Sales Executive: Spend about 5-10 years here.
- Director of Sales: Most folks spend roughly 4-6 years here.
Job Requirements and Skills
Top Skills of an Application Engineer
We recommend getting familiar with different types of customer questions if you plan to pursue a career in application engineering. If finding these answers seems interesting to you, read on!
- Provide technical support to customers and sales teams, including product demonstrations and troubleshootingWork closely with R&D
- Work closely with R&D and engineering teams to ensure customer needs are met and to continuously improve products and services
- Collaborate with sales teams to identify new business opportunities and to provide technical expertise during the sales process
- Prepare technical documentation and training materials
- Participate in trade shows and other marketing events
- Work with clients as trusted advisor by communicating how to accomplish their goals.
- Continually drive development of strategic accounts and industries, maintaining focus over a long sales cycle.
Top Tools of a Application Engineer
We've also compiled the most common tools listed in job description. If you're serious about becoming an application engineer, get familiar with these and be ready to talk about them.
CAD Software (Computer-Aided Design)
For Bug Spotting
- Visual Studio
For Programming (Rare)
For Task & Appt Management
Key Traits of a Successful Application Engineer
Problem Solving - Since this role also falls under a sales umbrella, application engineers need to be ready to tackle potential customer problems and prove their solution is best.
Communication - Application engineers are often liaisons between non-technical and technical teams. They need to be able to communicate with both.
Programming - While an application engineer does not directly have to code, you will have an edge with your resume with some programming experience.
Attention to Detail - Application engineers need to be able to consume their client's information and translate them to requests for the product and engineering teams.
Presentation Skills - Application engineers need to be decent presenters in order to troubleshoot and showcase company software.
Technical Writing - A great deal of an application engineer's job is writing documentation for end users of a company software.
Get Started with a Bridged Recommendation
Application engineering could be a great path for those who are torn between a role in engineering and a role in sales. We recommend it for those who can enjoy learning and communicating hard skills, but like to exercise their soft skills in the day-to-day.
Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. We're building a product to make your career planning fun and affordable, and we'd love to talk to YOU! Was this article helpful? Did you land an interview for a application engineering role?
Let us know at email@example.com
Check out our sources!
Glassdoor Team. “Salary: Application Engineer (March, 2023) | Glassdoor.” Glassdoor, Glassdoor, 1 Feb. 2023, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/product-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,15.html