What Does a Customer Success Engineer Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

The customer success industry is growing, so the need for jobs like customer success engineers is also rising. Explore what a customer success engineer does, the average salary associated with the job, and the steps you can take to become one.

[Featured Image] A customer success engineer speaks with a client or colleague, smiling in front of a laptop as the two engage in conversation.

An increasing number of companies are incorporating customer success professionals into their staff—and with good reason. Customer success experts can help boost retention, improve customer trust and satisfaction, and even help provide insights and information to other teams within an organization. A customer success team can have several unique members. Still, customer success engineers play a special role that requires solid interpersonal and customer skills as well as strong technical skills and know-how. 

If you love working with people and like working with tech, this job combines the best of both worlds. Keep reading to learn more about the role of a customer success engineer, including how much they make and how you can become one.   

What is a customer success engineer?

In this role, you will provide a combination of customer service and technical support for clients who buy an organization's products and services. For example, if your organization sells software to other businesses, and that business doesn't fully understand how the software works or implements it and runs into problems, your job as a customer service engineer would be to intervene and either teach them how to use it or troubleshoot and fix the issues. You may also negotiate contracts with clients and sell new products or upgrades. 

What does a customer success engineer do?

Working as a customer success engineer means performing a unique blend of human interactions and tech support. Your duties will likely vary depending on the industry in which you work and the organization for which you work, but some of your tasks and responsibilities might include: 

  • Educate other team members on how to use or fix a tech product

  • Conduct product demos for stakeholders and management

  • Manage product installation 

  • Provide conflict resolution between coworkers and customers 

  • Respond to customer queries about products 

  • Deploy and maintain new products

  • Guide customers through the initial usage of new products 

  • Work to improve and promote customer retention

  • Troubleshooting or debugging tech products 

  • Gain complete knowledge of your organization's products and services 

Where do customer success engineers work?

According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, some of the prominent sectors hiring customer success professionals include financial services, computer software,  marketing and advertising, internet, and information technology and services [1]. Customer success engineer jobs may be more common among larger companies and business-to-business (B2B) software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies. Examples of businesses that often hire customer success engineers include IBM, Microsoft, Google, NCR, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Applied Materials, and BancTec. 

Customer success engineer skills

Customer success engineers work in roles that require them to have a mix of both technical and human skills. That means that you need tech training and excellent interpersonal and communication skills to work directly with customers. 

Some of the other human skills you must possess if you want to become a customer success engineer include:  

  • Customer service 

  • Time management 

  • Problem-solving

  • Trust-building

  • Persuasiveness 

  • Active listening

  • Innovation

  • Critical thinking

  • Creativity

  • Empathy

  • Patience

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Mediation   

Some of the technical skills you may need to possess if you want to become a customer success engineer include:  

  • Troubleshooting and testing  

  • Debugging

  • Level agreements

  • Ethernet 

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

  • Hardware and software support

  • Java 

  • Databases

  • Cloud-based solutions

  • General sales

  • Microsoft Office

  • Customer retention

  • Account management 

  • Network management 

  • Preventative maintenance 

  • Windows 

  • Linux

  • SQL

  • Electromechanical equipment 

Customer success engineer salary and job outlook

According to Glassdoor, as a customer success engineer, you might earn an average annual base pay between $69,000 and $114,000 [2]. As with most jobs, your earning power typically increases as you gain experience.

Another job online recruitment company, Zippia, reports that the average annual salary for a customer success engineer is $101,212. Working in certain states, like California, Texas, or New Jersey, and certain cities, like San Francisco, Austin, or Washington, DC, may mean a higher salary. You may earn more as a customer success engineer if you work in specific industries, like telecommunications, manufacturing, or technology [3]. 

Customer success is a growing field. As more companies recognize the importance of having customer success professionals, the demand for skilled professionals to fill these roles also grows. In 2020, LinkedIn reported 34 percent annual growth for customer success specialists [1]. An increase in technology and a greater need for human skills in the tech industry are the driving forces behind the need for more people in this field. 

Customer success engineer career path 

Customer success engineers may be one part of a whole customer success team. For example, the team may have entry-level positions, such as customer success associates or customer success representatives. Starting this way can offer an excellent entry into the customer success industry while helping you earn valuable work experience. Once you've gained experience as a customer success engineer, you might consider working your way up to a management or leadership position, such as becoming a customer success manager or director of customer success. Some companies may even have C-suite roles in this area, such as a VP of customer success or a chief customer success officer. 

Education and training 

You won't find a specific path toward becoming a customer success engineer, but many people in this role have a college degree. According to Zippia, 46 percent of customer success engineers have bachelor's degrees, while 35.7 percent have associate degrees, and 6.4 percent have master's degrees [4]. 

Typical majors for people in this role include electrical engineering, computer science, and business. However, if you want to work in a specific industry, you may consider a major that aligns with that field.  Some companies may prefer that you have some previous work experience in areas like sales or customer service. It's also critical to focus on developing your technical and human skills. If you want to work with a specific company, always do your research to see what that company wants in a customer success engineer. 

Learn more with Coursera. 

One way to grow your technical and human skills is to take courses. On Coursera, prominent leaders in business, tech, and education will offer thousands of options. For example, you can improve your customer service skills with Customer Service Fundamentals offered by Knowledge Accelerators. Focus on your human skills with a course like Developing Interpersonal Skills offered by IBM, or brush up on your technical skills with a course like Troubleshooting and Debugging Techniques from Google. 

Article sources


LinkedIn. "2020 Emerging Jobs Report,  https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/talent-solutions/emerging-jobs-report/Emerging_Jobs_Report_U.S._FINAL.pdf." Accessed February 27, 2024. 

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