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What is an Application Engineer?

By Bryon Turcotte
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An application engineer plans the design and implementation of technology products like specialty industry equipment or computer programs. He or she works together with a company’s manufacturing, sales, and customer service departments. Companies typically require this type of worker to have a four-year degree along with years of field experience. He or she should have good communication, math and teamwork skills.

Core Responsibilities

People in this field design, build, and test various technological products. They gather information about clients’ needs and work with managers to develop products using sophisticated computer software. They can make original applications or redesign ones that a customer already has. Many application engineers also do research and development.

Industry Options

The specific role of someone in this career depends on which industry and discipline he or she chooses. In an industrial environment, an application engineer might orchestrate the planning, design and deployment of heavy machinery and specialized equipment. One in the computer industry applies knowledge of software and programming to develop computer systems and then draft technical white papers that help the public to better understand the technology behind them.

Relevant Company Departments

Application engineers usually work with multiple departments in a company. A manufacturing department might look to an applications engineer to confirm specifications, standards, and changes required to make a product. When communicating with the customer base, the sales department may depend on the application engineer to answer questions and to confirm technical functionality outside the realm of its knowledge to help close a sale. After the product has finally reached the field and is in the hands of the consumer, the customer service team could look to an application engineer to assist in solving a technical problem the consumer has while using the product.

Education and Training

An applications engineer typically has at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, computer science or information technology. Businesses usually prefer people with at least five years of industry experience. Another common requirement of an application engineer is that he or she has a strong understanding of lean manufacturing, which entails eradicating waste and improving efficiency when creating goods at an organization. He or she needs to be up-to-date on the software field too.

Required Skills

In any industry, a self-starting person who is highly results-driven could be a good fit for an application engineering job. He or she needs to be an independent thinker and require little supervision, but also has to work well in a team to achieve the organization's ultimate goals. Since most application engineers have to handle multiple projects in a short period of time, they need to be able to multitask and cope with deadline pressure.

Additionally, an application engineer has to present ideas and information accurately and explain industry jargon in a clear manner for customers. A person who has excellent verbal and written communication skills, strong math skills, and the ability to handle both simple tasks and complex assignments is a valuable asset to an organization in the application engineering field.

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Discussion Comments

By anon985948 — On Jan 20, 2015

The description of this job matches nearly perfectly with a position I have been offered. I believe the most important question I had about this position is salary. Is this comparable to other jobs I qualify for with my BS in mechanical engineering? The only values I found showed similar starting salaries but low raise oppurtunities.

By anon962009 — On Jul 21, 2014

The level of math required is both company and industry specific. I've worked as an Apps engineer with different companies in both HVACR and Oil and Gas. A good company with a good group of engineers isn't sitting around doing math for math's sake. It's developing a mathematical routine and then automating so that it can become a tool to facilitate sales.

As was mentioned, apps engineering is also called inside sales engineer. As an apps engineer, you would almost never solicit sales to an external customer. Instead, you provide potential customers with technical proposals, usually detailing product features and their associated cost. Often apps engineers are the 'responsible engineers' for projects due to their primary role of 'quoting' or providing technical proposals. Just some thoughts.

I've done both pure design engineering (both in the private sector and advanced research in the public sector) and applications engineering. My opinion is that it is hands down the most interesting of all. It's probably more an art than a science. And it's a far more upwardly mobile position than strictly pure design. But, you can't be a wallflower and succeed at it.

By anon350337 — On Oct 03, 2013

Can anyone explain about a corporate application engineer job profile?

By anon333412 — On May 05, 2013

Applications is one of the most interesting types of engineering as you get to work on a wide variety of projects with a wide range of functional groups (design, manufacturing, marketing, business). After spending a few years doing this, I could never go back to a straight design engineering job. Applications is also a good road to non-engineering career-path options in high-tech companies if at some point you decide you need a break from the technology side.

By anon308891 — On Dec 13, 2012

I've been an application engineer for five years now, and I really like the style of work.

The truth is, it really is a sales job combined with technical support. Your manufacturing team will want to build something easy for them, and the customer wants the best product for them, so it is your job to find a good medium.

If approached with the proper mindset, an application engineer can jump between multiple industries, since it is just a matter of learning industry specs and standards and applying them to the already developed capabilities of the manufacturer/supplier.

By anon268307 — On May 13, 2012

I worked as an applications engineer for a number of years in the automation (assembly) industry and had a great experience. Your description is very accurate. Thanks.

By TheDoctor — On Apr 12, 2011

If you are interested in the web application engineer field then you should check out some of the job hunting websites. There were over 19,000 jobs listed in that field on one site alone. The majority of them were looking for people with bachelor’s degrees, but there were plenty that only needed an associate’s degree and a few that were willing to consider just relevant experience and on the job training. An entry level job could allow you to get your foot in the door without having to go back to school.

By g00dquestion — On Apr 10, 2011

I have a brother who is a software applications engineer and he has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, so there can be a lot of math involved. I think it depends a lot on what specific field you chose within the engineering arena itself. He tells me that web based engineering is more about coding and less about math if that is something that you are looking for.

By GamerDan — On Apr 07, 2011

This field sounds really interesting. I am in college now and trying to decide on a major and this field sounds like something that I would really enjoy. I tried to find an application engineer job description on the internet and came up empty. Does anyone know if there is a lot of higher level math involved in this field?

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