What makes a great Field Applications Engineer?

A Field Applications Engineer, or FAE, is an engineer who works for a product supplier and helps customers and prospective customers to integrate specific technologies into the customers’ own products or systems. This article focuses on what makes a great Field Applications Engineer, with some answers from current and former FAEs, FAE managers, and Sales Directors, from companies including Microchip Technology, Power Integrations, Texas Instruments, GaN Systems Inc., picoChip, Mindspeed, Motorola, and XMOS Semiconductor .

What does a great Field Applications Engineer do?

An FAE might support only one application, or multiple applications. They will need a strong technical background in the technologies needed for their customers’ application(s) that they will be supporting. The FAE will also need commercial awareness, and excellent communication skills. 

Field Applications Engineers work in all industries across all sectors including semiconductor, electronics, medical, instrumentation, power, and transportation.

FAEs may spend time creating devices or presentations to demonstrate the capabilities of their product to match their customers application(s).

Their role includes supporting their companies’ Sales Engineers on visits to customers to answer or to demonstrate specific technical questions that the customer has asked.

Each engineer works directly with customers to demonstrate products, to answer technical questions and to address the customers’ concerns.  The role may also involve managing and creating documentation including marketing materials and manuals as well as supporting the sales team and driving further sales.

Some FAEs are purely technically focused and do not get involved in sales. They help “design in” their companies’ technology after the sale has been won.

John DeFiore in home lab


All Field Applications Engineers will be very hands on at all levels not just the very technical so that they are able to handle all parts of the equipment.  They will also have a range of skills not just those confined to their particular area of specialisation.

They will have the ability and drive to become an expert, and then remain expert in their specialism and the equipment they support.

Development Kit
Original development kit for Alphamosaic now part of Broadcom, Videocore 1

Then a great field applications engineer will also have four additional skills:

Excellent time management.

The ability to multitask.

An interest in technology and innovations and happy to keep up with current trends.

The ability to simplify technical data for non-technical clients or colleagues

electronic equipment


A Field Applications Engineer is interested in people, technical issues, and learning as well as structure, rules, and systems.  They like the unexpected, challenges and solving puzzles and problems.

Successful Field Applications Engineers have most of these personality traits:

Adaptable and resourceful.

Strong communicator and good listener with the ability to ask thoughtful and provoking questions.

Quick thinking even when under pressure.

Analytical thinker.

Detail oriented and methodical as well as patient and calm.

Desire to keep learning from everyone.

Ability to appear confident.

A sense of humour.

global traveller

Positives of working as a Field Applications Engineer

Travel is a necessary part of the role of a Field Applications Engineer.  This may be planned, or ‘on call’, and may involve local, national, or international travel. 

There are many positives including:

As an engineer you can see the end result of all the design, development and testing.

Working as an FAE will mean that you become more creative, develop your ingenuity and improve your problem-solving ability.

You will know what is wanted by the customer and so can help design better products.

As well, you will have the chance to travel and experience new cultures.

You will become a better engineer from working with limited support and having to think fast.

Meeting lots of people will keep your creative and learning process going.

You will have the satisfaction of using all your experience and skills to solve real world issues.

Dev Kit picture
A historic demo drawing of a development kit for Alphamosaic, now part of Broadcom Videocore 1

What the experts say about, What makes a great Field Applications Engineer

I asked some of my expert connections, “Could you in a couple of sentences give your thoughts on ‘What makes a great Field Applications Engineer?'”

Ben Sutherland Senior Director of Sales at Power Integrations

“A great Field Applications Engineer listens well, understands the real problem, and guides the designer without telling him/her that they are wrong.  Gets the job done quickly and doesn’t waste time trying to be perfect.”

Zaffar Iqbal Principal Field Applications Engineer & Team Leader at Microchip Technology Inc.

“I would say what makes a great Field Applications Engineer is a great listener. Listen to what your customer is telling you, be honest with what you can address now and what you’ll have to get back to them on as it’s OK not to know everything.”

John Edwards AI And DSP Consultant Numerix-DSP

“Good under pressure – There is no pressure higher than when the customer is looking over your shoulder.

Be able to explain things clearly – When things go wrong in the field, they have to be communicated to the Engineers back at HQ.

Be flexible – Travel at weekends gives more face time with customers but is hard on your private life.

Embrace travel as an opportunity for new experiences – New life experiences are the compensation for missed family time as well as the endless hours waiting to board airplanes.

Think outside the box – It is an overused cliché, but when you’re in front of customers and things aren’t going well you might have to get inventive to find a solution to the problem.

Have a good sense of humour – Be able to maintain yours, even when those around you have lost theirs.”

Tony Astley EMEA Sales Director EMEA Sales GaN Systems

“A great FAE is…. focussed on helping the customer achieve their objectives by understanding them better than competitors. As well, explaining how the product can achieve the objectives better than the competitors.

A great FAE… is confident to engage with customers facing problems to help them overcome the issues, even with limited understanding of the issues at the beginning.

A great FAE… can be the voice of the marketplace in driving new product ideas which deliver highly differentiated, sustainable competitive advantages!”

And from someone at the beginning of their FAE journey.

Syeda Ghazia Application Specialist at Fujifilm healthcare Pvt. Ltd in Pakistan

“If a Field Applications Engineer has customers who are satisfied with the service they have been given, then the FAE can be considered a great Field Applications Engineer.”

What career options are there for Field Applications Engineers?

Being an FAE is a great place to start if you want to progress into Sales, Marketing, and Management positions.

Field Applications Engineers understand better than most what makes a customer like a product, and what the problems and weaknesses of their companies’ products are.

Although many FAEs prefer to stay in a purely technical role, many choose to progress to Sales, Marketing, and Product Marketing or Product Definition roles where they can use their customer knowledge to create better product offers for their clients.

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