Sunday, June 23, 2024

Field Application Engineering and Technical Sales: Is A Career In This Domain Worth In 2017?

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If you have completed your engineering undergraduation and are intending to take up work straightaway desiring to make a career away from the conventional engineering disciplines whilst utilising (and gaining) technical skills, then industry experts believe that you could work as a Field Application Engineer (FAE). Here, your communication skills, along with soft skillsets play a vital role. So, if you have a penchant to work as an engineer who can communicate well, then FAE is potentially for you.

Target companies here are many, ranging from factories to large-scale corporate firms. However, at this point in time it is worth noting that Field Application Engineering (FAE) has itself been victimised by myths that have even gone as far as labelling the field as a ‘salesman’s job’.

We spoke to experts with both domain knowledge and expertise on FAE, to bust myths associated myths and to decode the concept of how it is to work as a field application engineer.

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You are a pure engineer and consultant and not a travelling salesman

Field application engineering is not exactly a sales job, here you give correct explanations and solutions for the clients to understand the product, acting as an engineer,” states Utsava Rathi who works as a Manager at job search engine Neuvoo. Utsava closely analyses the FAE industry.

As per Utsava, the best aspect about being a field application engineer (FAE) is that you get to debug errors, along with influencing clients technologically. Even technological support needs to be offered to clients so that their prospects are bolstered. With this, you would be remotely influencing clients’ sales decisions

FAE makes you the bridge that destroys other bridges

Fundamentally, when you start working as an FAE and are deputed on a project, you are seen (by clients of your company) as a pure engineer with effective communication. The latter skills are required as you would interact with people to impart knowledge on the products manufactured/developed by your firm; products here range from machinery hardware to software offerings.

“As an FAE, the onus is on you to enable clients understand technically what your company offers. You are also responsible for delivering technical solutions through your skills. On completion of this, you will then intimate the post-sales team to enable them to close the business deal with the clients,” states, a  senior field application engineer working with Tecnomic Components, on the condition of anonymity.

Work technically on products within your company

This is yet another important aspect about working as an FAE; as you would naturally possess a BE/B.Tech degree, you also get to work on technical products in areas such as testing, design, research & development (R&D), and in certain cases re-engineering as well.

“It is always good to study the company and its machinery or product before taking up the job,” adds Utsava.

With you acting as a technical consultant, there is always scope for improvisation of your skills. Even if you land a job as an FAE in a manufacturing firm, you will have plenty of opportunities to improvise on your technical skillset.

Here, improvisation also extends to your business skills as well. At this instant, you would be interacting with clients and helping them take business decisions that are technically forward; therefore, the growth of your company depends on you.

“Technical solutions are vital for any technology product development company. Upon introducing yourself as an FAE or a Technical Sales and Solutions consultant, your skills horizon immediately expands,” advises a senior Application Engineer at Altair Engineering.

What are FAE pre-requisites?

With FAE now recognised globally as a white-collared opportunity, it is vital that you possess the below technical skillsets along with the general ones:

  • As stated above, the primary requirement to work as an FAE (often referred to as Technical Sales) is an engineering degree irrespective of disciplines. However, elementary technical skills are a must-have here. Some companies even seek a Master’s in VLSI or embedded systems.
  • As per job portal Naukri, the common skillsets listed for field application engineer include (but not limited to) System Verilog, technical support skills, VLSI, Embedded Systems, HDL, C, Product designing (Both software & hardware), software testing and Technical Sales.
  • Effective communication skill are mandatory and uncompromising.

In addition to the above pre-requisites there are other skills that are company-dependent and go by the sector that the firm is currently into and the exact nature of products offered.

Career Progression and pay packages

Experts, who we consulted, strongly believe that a career as a Field Application Engineer or Technical Sales suits those not desirous of seeking fancy job titles, but rather looking at utilising technical talent.

To start with, fresh engineers would be offered designations such as Application Engineer, Field Application Engineer,  Technical Sales Executive, and even as a trainee. There is a possibility that you could be offered even business-oriented job titles like Project Manager, and even Account Manager based on your experience level.

“As you acquire experience, you would be improvising on your business skills as you will be working with clients closely. There are many opportunities to travel in this job as you may need to meet clients or manufacturers personally,” advises Utsava.

Experts also advise FAEs to tread carefully, as making the right decisions could fast-track careers and could also lead to FAEs even reaching the CEO level. Business qualities and talent would be the deciding factor in such scenarios. More ‘positive business’ generated would lead to faster career progression.

As far as pay packages are concerned, fresh engineers can expect packages starting from ₹1.5 –₹2 lakhs per annum. This again depends on the area of expertise, job requirements, work profile, and the company’s reputation.

Experienced players can expect to make anywhere between ₹10-₹20 lakhs per annum.

“With new products and technologies popping up in the market every day, the need for field application engineers are increasing and there is a good scope for engineers to start their career in this field. Apart from attractive compensation, the job comes with nice advantages of learning business, travelling, meeting lot of people, continuous learning, challenging professional environment and a lot more.” signs-off Utsava.

The anonymous Applications Engineer at Altair Engineering advises FAEs to remain optimistic about pay packages. In case FAEs stick to one company over an extended period, then pay package earned would be directly proportional to the amount of effort put in.

It is a level playing field

Unlike core information technology enabled services (ITes), FAEs believe the playing field is level as far as competition is concerned. However, your interviews would still be challenging despite the absence of cut-throat competition. Nonetheless, it should do no harm to you to make hay while the sun is shining bright.

Major Contributors to the story

Utsava Rathi Manager and Analyst at Job Search Engine Neuvoo
Active Field Application Engineers who requested complete annonymity; and currently working with major firms in India

Written by Rahul R, Senior Technical Journalist at EFY

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