Serving as a bridge between the engineering and business sides of an organization, application engineers are highly sought after by innovative companies looking to streamline operations, improve their user experience and the quality of their products, and ultimately scale to meet customer needs.
Beyond developing new applications, troubleshooting and redesigning old applications, and providing general customer support, application engineers can also be client-facing and serve as a crucial sales lead. This means they must have key soft skills like communication and project management, in addition to technical knowledge.
For those in application engineering looking to move up and around, the opportunities are abundant — and by upskilling in this field, you can set yourself up for an incredibly impactful and lucrative career.
Here are three tips for advancing your role as an application engineer.
Contribute to or create open source projects
Contributing to open source communities like GitHub could mean pointing out bugs in publicly-available code, or writing documentation for a larger project. By doing so, you’re able to hone your technical and soft skills, view and apply new use cases, and maybe learn a thing or two from other engineers in your field. More importantly, it strengthens your portfolio and personal brand should you need evidence of your work to advocate for a new job or promotion.
If you’ve never contributed to an open-source project before, start by getting familiar with how it works through something like the Open Source Guide or GitHub’s quickstart guidelines. Up For Grabs and Ovio are other resources specifically for new contributors that can help you filter through projects to find the right fit for your interests and expertise.
Collaborate with other engineers and tech experts
Maybe you have a strong network of application engineers outside your company or industry. Or maybe you’re part of a robust team with specialized skill sets. Either way, it’s beneficial to find opportunities to collaborate with other tech experts regularly to understand the unique ways they approach problems.
To expand your tech network, sift through local events on Meetup, or join Facebook groups specifically for engineers. You can also browse LinkedIn, X, or Quora for relevant conversations to contribute to — the more the people you admire see your name online in common circles, the more likely they’ll be interested in meeting up, scheduling a virtual coffee, or collaborating with you on a project.
More importantly, these interactions could help you develop communication and time and project management skills that will make you an even more effective teammate, engineer, and salesperson.
Sign up for training programs, online courses, or advanced degrees
There are plenty of resources online and in person — some for free — for application engineers to reskill, pick up new skills, and practice their expertise in different settings.
For example, The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies, managed by the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, offers a four-day course teaching application engineers how to identify and defend against security threats through simulated real-world exercises. To develop crucial skills like project management, you might consider training offered by the Project Management Institute.
Many trainings and classes also bring together engineers from diverse backgrounds, industries, and locations, allowing attendees to network, learn from others, and gain exposure to new applications of their work.
The endless career possibilities of application engineering
The types and titles of application engineers vary by field and company, but traditionally, you’d start at the associate level and work your way up to senior or director. Alternatively, you might specialize in a specific language or program, such as Swift or Java.
The higher up the ladder in application engineering you get, the more complex and exciting the projects often become — and the more opportunity you get to manage teams, interact with high-level authorities and senior leaders, and be a part of creating and implementing groundbreaking technology.
Andela offers application engineering solutions, such as automation tools and quality assurance, mobile application transformation, and legacy system modernization, for tech professionals in a variety of industries. These solutions can help tech teams streamline and supercharge application development, reduce complexity, offload routine tasks, and enhance the user experience.
Scale your application development with Andela. Learn more.