A customer engineer, also referred to as a customer support engineer or a customer care engineer, performs technical tasks for for a specific client or a specific group of clients. Most of these types of engineers provide corporate technical assistance, including debugging mainframe computers and developing upon old products. They must keep up to date on the latest technological developments in their field in order to better advise their company's customers.
Part of the job description includes servicing specialist equipment that has broken down or seemingly run its course. IBM, the company which first coined the term in 1942, deployed these engineers to clients whenever they needed support and guidance on how to use the company's hardware. Some engineers are asked to repair a certain type of equipment, while other engineers may be asked to focus on helping all clients in a specific geographic area. The role has spread to other companies throughout the technology, aviation, and telecommunications industries.
The equipment which a customer engineer is charged with repairing is oftentimes complex and highly specialized. For instance, an engineer might be asked to perform high-level diagnostics and repairs on enterprise level servers and printers. Fixing large-scale networking problems is also a significant part of the job. Network management is vitally important to the stability of technical companies, and the customer engineer's job includes this work.
Installing key hardware and software is another function of this position. Enterprise level companies often need more experienced technicians to install new equipment. Customer engineers, in addition to providing repair and maintenance, are also well prepared to manage more complex installations for these sort of companies.
Education and highly specialized training is required for the position. Companies usually request that the job candidate possess at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. Often, higher education is necessary, possibly a two year or four year degree in electronics, computer science, or information technology. Some companies may ask potential candidates or newly hired engineers to sit for an exam to test their skills or to recommend them for further training.
The work of a customer engineer is client-facing. Because these engineers work directly with clients, they must be professional, and they must have strong communication skills. There is more to this position than technical work, and explaining the progress of the project to clients is paramount. In this way, a customer engineer also serves as a sort of project manager.