Friday, July 6, 2007

From Test To Sales

The career of Field Applications Engineer has its own entry on Wikipedia. Also known as an applications engineer or sales engineer, they are usually a liaison between the customer and engineering. They must have a technical background and a good understanding of the product, but they must also be able to communicate well with the customer. After all, they are part of the sales department.

I was a field apps engineer for two years, and I did it part time for a year with a different company. Furthermore, I've met several other apps engineers who transitioned from test engineering. Granted this is purely anecdotal evidence, but is there a good career path from one to the other?

Let's look at why a test engineer might do well in this position
  • He has a solid technical background.
  • If the company has multiple product lines, he probably has written tests or helped to test those products, so he has a breadth of knowledge.
  • A test engineer who has seen various product failures can help customers who may have similar problems.
  • A test engineer has seen the negatives of the product (i.e. - failures) but is still focused on the product (making it work right by correcting failures, or at least weeding out bad products). With this attitude a field applications engineer can build a layer of trust with the customer while at the same time help to sell him on the product.

But in the end it all still depends on the person.

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