Detailed description on Field Application Engineer’s Job Profile
In this article I will be sharing the informations related to the Field Application Engineering, role of FAE and the advantages/disadvantages of this Job.
What is Field Application Engineering?
Field Application Engineering is a combination of engineering and sales job where a technical personnel interacts with the clients, provides technical support and helps the sales team to sell their company products. Job taker in this field is called as Field Application Engineer (FAE).
To pursue this as a career you need to be a qualified Engineer. It is a job where learning, sharing, working, traveling, planning, communicating and solving capabilities are required.
What is the Work Profile of FAE?
Field Application Engineer is like the Google search engine. He/She looks into the customers requirements thoroughly before suggesting something.
To do this first the FAE should be in contact with the customers perhaps he/she should keep traveling to the customer location and enquire regarding their future projects. Once the requirements are reviewed the FAE will start suggesting the components from his/her company which can be used in the project.
Let me explain you the complete job profile of FAE with an example. Think you are a FAE for an Electronics Components Distribution firm and there is a customer who is looking to develop a big LED display for the city buses. Now you need to analyze what components will be used to manufacture a LED display. May be the list includes LED’s, resistors, inductors, transistors, microcontroller, amplifiers and other power supply components. Now after the analyses completes you need to check which all components your company distributes. Once this thing is over then you can start suggesting the components to the customers with a description on each for convincing purpose.
If you succeed in impressing the customer then the customer ask for some sample components to check its suitablity into the project. If the customer is happy with the component then he will place an order for some small quantity to start his/her prototype development. Now here comes the Sales support team for price negotiation and etc with the customer.
Once the prototype order is delivered it is you who should assure that the prototype model gets completed without any issues from your suggested components. This can be done with continuous touch with the customer and enquiring about the status. For this you may need to visit the location quiet frequently perhaps twice in a week.
Once the prototype is passed the customer places the huge order to start the mass production of the product. FAE job formally completes and Sales team job starts. In any case the FAE should be available for any future technical support required from the customer.
Responsibilities of FAE
- Should support the sales team to meet their targets. For instance, should travel with the Sales Engineer to the customer location with proper strategy. If the meeting is w.r.t a requirement of a new Hardware component then the FAE should have enough technical information about that part so that he can convince the customer to use it.
- Should work on the customer projects in the their locations. For ex, if the customer is using a microcontroller from your semiconductor company (suggested by you/other colleagues) and they are facing some issues in it then FAE is the one who has to solve it and keep the project running. Else in the worst case the client may turn towards other MCU from other vendor which will lead to a potential loss to your company.
- Should be up to date in the core nature of work which may include software tools, hardware components, development kits etc. For ex, if you are a FAE for a Semiconductor company (or distributors of this company) which manufactures memory chips then you need to have detailed information on each chip’s part number, specifications and features. Also it will be great if you have some informations of the rival company’s chips too. This will help you to explain better to the clients during demonstrations on the product.
- Prepare and maintain the list of running projects of the clients. This is important because FAE’s one of the primary responsibility is to make sure that the prototype projects of the customers are turned into a final product. It is only then your company will start making profits since the customers will start requiring more components/tools when they enter into the mass production stage.
- Need to take part actively in the research and development in the design centers to develop reference models for customer convenience purpose. This is because some of the customers need a prototype/working model of some of your products so that they get convinced.
- Prepare white papers/techical documents/application notes/presentations on the products. This is because the customer mayn’t have all the information of your product. So such documents can be used by them as a starter kit in developing there projects.
- Should have good communication skills to impress the customers by giving proper demo on the products. Also the FAE should quickly adapt to the work environment. This is helpful when the FAE is at the customer location and working with them in a project. He/She should adapt in the team in such a way that the project is not affected.
- Attend trainings conducted by the partners and acquire certifications. For ex, If Qualcomm is the semiconductor partner for your distribution company then you need to keep yourself up to date with their latest chipsets.
- Should be capable to deliver under pressure.
Pros & Cons of FAE Job
- Seeing new places as the FAE needs to travel frequently inland or sometimes around the world too
- Meeting some of the most talented technical people in the industry
- Earn decent salary alongwith with allowances and bonus.
- Need to be one step ahead than the developers of the product. So you need to be in continuous touch with the technical stuff like microcontroller’s datasheet, LCD displays and other HW components.
- Traveling long distances may be tiresome some times. Also you will be missing the family frequently.
- Carrying laptops and other stuffs everytime to the customer location is sometime difficult.
- Need to be ever ready for the calls of the customers on mobile phones. In some critical situations be it night or day you are required to attend the phone calls.
All in all FAE is one of the challenging career out there filled with many colors. If you are looking for a dynamic career where in every day there is something new to learn then this is the career for you.
All the best.
If you are an experienced FAE then share your comments/experience for the job hunters.