How do I Become an Applications Engineer?
To become an applications engineer involves being formally trained to implement and maintain the computer software or applications used by an organization. While some applications engineers design and develop computer applications from scratch, others use modify packaged products according to the demands of their employers. In some cases, they may create databases or help in building computer networks. Since this profession relies on a combination of computer and engineering skills, it is sometimes referred to as computer software engineer.
The first step to become an applications engineer is to get some formal training from an institution of higher learning. The most common degree level is a bachelor of science degree in applications development or software engineering. This has become the minimum educational standard in the industry, although in a few instances, an associate's degree or a certificate is sufficient. A bachelor's degree usually takes four years to complete. For the lower-level degrees, the duration is shorter—two years for the associate's and up to a year for a certificate.
Secondly, to become an applications engineer requires synthesizing technical knowledge and other attributes. While in school, applications engineering students learn a variety of subjects such as software application development, network technologies, computer programming, application error analysis, database design and development, and information systems security. Becoming an applications engineer also calls for social skills that include the ability to work as a team member with other information technology (IT) professionals and communicating with fellow employees with limited technology know-how.
Aspiring applications engineers have a variety of workplaces to choose from upon graduation. Some work for large corporations to increase business productivity. Others work in the video gaming industry, lending their talents to game development. Software publishing is another popular employer, since it allows applications engineers to act as intermediaries between software developers and their distributors. Generally speaking, applications engineers can apply for a job anywhere that has an IT department or demands a huge reliance on computers.
Lastly, to become an applications engineer—and to remain an efficient one—involves being in sync with the rapid advances of the information technology field. To this end, colleges, universities, technical schools and some employers offer continuing studies options such as certifications, non-credit courses and even graduate degrees. Applications engineers who keep up-to-date with technological advances tend to fare the best in the industry, sometimes even achieving increased earning potential and promotion to advanced positions such as information systems manager and chief information officer (CIO). Others, especially if those who specialize in a particular software product, can aspire to work as independent consultants.
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