Application engineer jobs go by many names, including field application engineer and, more often, sales engineer. Application engineers are in demand in many industries and for various processors that must be able to do business across a range of diverse businesses. An application engineer's primary job is to assist in implementing a company's product into customers' systems. This may require him to perform engineering work or act as a line of communication between the customer and his in-house engineering staff. The type of engineer that will be successful in most application engineering jobs will have a thorough knowledge of the product being sold and how it can be used in multiple ways and industries.
Some application engineer jobs may require an engineer to make sales calls on clients, visit trade shows, and provide assistance to potential customers when they request information. The job description for in-house application engineer jobs can be greatly different and require little customer interaction. An in-house application engineer often will focus on the technical aspects of integrating the company's product into the customer’s systems.
The large number of components and suppliers required to build cars, trucks, planes, and rockets means there are a lot of application engineer jobs in the automotive and aerospace industries. An application engineer will often specialize in a particular component, manufacturing process, or system with the goal of understanding the customer’s needs. The job is to prove to the customer that his product or service will fill the customer's needs in a cost-effective and reliable manner.
The engineer must communicate regularly with a customer to understand his requirements. Engineering problems may arise throughout the development process, because customized applications may not undergo a large amount of testing. For instance, a part may fail or perform unsatisfactorily a year into its life cycle because of unforeseen wear and tear issues in novel applications.
There are also a significant amount of application engineer jobs in equipment processing and services. Many times an application engineer in this role will be required to set up complete manufacturing and processing facilities. The process could involve laying out the plant’s floor plan and setting up an assembly line, in addition to installing and maintaining machinery. This type of extensive work is common in the food processing and contract manufacturing industries.
Job skills and training for application engineer jobs can come from a range of resources. Whether their educational background is in mechanical, electrical, or industrial engineering, their success will largely depend on how well they are able to apply fundamental engineering principles to solving new problems. Perhaps the most important skill is an ability to interact with customers on a variety of levels. For instance, the application engineer must be able to implement strict timing and budgetary schedules provided by management as well as understand the technical details from engineers and machine operators.