My official job title is Forward Deployed Software Engineer (FDSE). When I started in my position two years ago I had little idea what the job description meant.

Searching for “Forward Deployed Software Engineer” on LinkedIn (Feb 16, 2022) yields only three job openings which are an exact match to the term.

So what does this role entail? We’ll review publicly available information on the FDSE label and put it in relation with more established roles. I’m not expecting this title to be adopted as widely as others eg. the Data Engineer. What I do think is that neatly describes a profile that becomes more prevalent in product-based tech companies.

Forward Deployed Software Engineer?

The FDSE role describes software engineers that work closely with customers, either embedded directly on-site or collaborating closely with account teams. While Sales Engineers or Solution Engineers may bring a technical sales background, FDSEs are software engineers by trade.

Key tasks include using software engineering methods and tools to unstick customer challenges. Coordinating with sales, product engineering within their own organization is essential to produce results for customers. While engineering teams usually work on longer-term projects, FDSEs often switch context (projects, code bases, customers), working on what provides the most value at any given point in time. In other organizations they may be called Solution Architects, Pre-Sale Engineers or similar.

Who uses the role description?

When I first researched the role as part of the interviewing process, Palantir was by far the most visible company using the job title in openings. Blog posts created by current and former Palantir employees such as Who Wants to be a Delta? or A day in the life of a Palantir Forward Deployed Software Engineer. There is also a promo video portraying on the companies channel.

But looking beyond Palantir, companies like Splunk (duh.) or Boston Consulting Group use the title.