In this article, we will explore the job of a network engineer, including duties, training and qualifications, skills, and hours.
Network engineers deal with building digital information networks, which are used by pretty much every business and organization.
Besides building digital network systems, they are responsible for troubleshooting and fixing these systems if something malfunctions.
People who love computer networking technology and building things will find this position an ideal fit.
Article Table of Contents
What Does a Network Engineer Do
Network engineers build and install computer networks for their employers.
They may be hired by any organization in need of a computer network, and today, this includes the vast majority of employers.
Companies in the private sector, nonprofits, government agencies, and others hire network engineers.
There are two similar positions that employers recognize: a network engineer who builds networks, and a network architect, who designs networks.
However, both positions are synonymous.
Network engineers also maintain and upgrade networks they built and fix the problems that may arise.
The salary of a network engineer can be as high as $70,411 a year.
- Build computer networks that were designed by network architects.
- Design computer networks.
- Stay updated on new information technologies that might be beneficial for the company in the future.
- Present and explain information and plans of computer networks to management.
- Keep up with information security.
- Upgrade software and hardware when necessary.
- Ensure the proper installation and functioning of firewalls.
- Consider future upgrades when designing a network as well as future connections to other networks.
- Analyze actual data traffic to determine the needs of the network and the company in the future.
- Test the performance and security of the network.
Network engineers should be able to discuss and explain complex technological aspects with non-technical employees.
Specialized tech skills:
Network engineers need extensive knowledge of various types of software and hardware, electronic network infrastructure, etc.
Attention to detail:
While building a computer network, engineers should ensure that every piece is where it needs to be.
They need perfect attention to detail to build the network in the way it was intended to function properly.
Network engineers need to analyze the systems they are working on to determine any potential weaknesses or flaws and find ways to connect new systems to the existing ones.
When there some flaws or malfunctions in the network, network engineers should troubleshoot the system and find solutions quickly.
How to Become a Network Engineer
The minimal educational requirement for a network engineer is a bachelor’s degree.
Some employers, however, prefer a master’s degree.
Another requirement is some experience in IT, typically as a network administrator.
Since this career is tech-savvy, aspiring network engineers should gain in-depth knowledge and experience with various network hardware and software.
For better job prospects, engineers may earn various certifications from software or product vendors.
Considering the rapidly changing nature of the tech world, continuing education is mandatory.
Training and Qualifications
To become a network engineer, one needs a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, computer science, information systems, or another similar field.
A program covering hand-on network and database design can be beneficial as well.
To increase their prospects, students can enroll in internship programs.
Sometimes, employers require a master’s degree in business with an information systems specialization.
Also, for better career prospects, various certifications from relevant tech vendors can be useful.
Some companies require certification in the types of systems they employ.
On the other hand, network engineers don’t need any state or federal licensing or certification or to pass any exams to find work.
They need to be creative as designing custom networks requires some creative thinking.
Network engineers must take continuing education.
Having their knowledge of computer networking outdated can be one of the most dangerous things for a computer engineer.
Technology constantly changes, so network engineers should be always aware of the new tech being released, up-to-date cybersecurity, and network design trends.
With this knowledge, they can both improve the existing networks and find a better approach to a new one.
A network engineer isn’t a job you can take on without experience.
You need a solid understanding of IT systems and their operation.
Mostly, network engineers are required to have five to ten years of experience in IT.
Network engineers often gain experience as systems administrators first.
College students can gain experience in IT and computer networking during internships or hands-on university training programs.
In some computer science degrees, an internship is a requirement for graduation.
There may also be some reciprocal agreements with local companies where students can gain more hands-on experience.
The position of a network engineer is salaried and usually full-time.
They work mostly in offices and server rooms.
In this position, they may also have to work long or extra hours.
If an issue arises with a network that the engineer built, they have to respond and get the network running as soon as possible.
Since networks are in use mostly during the standard business hours, network engineers sometimes have to work odd hours or after hours.
Similar to other tech careers, network engineers are in high demand since businesses constantly expand their IT departments.
The BLS reports that the employment rate should grow by 9% by 2024, which is faster than average.
Network engineers also receive good pay, with $70,411 per year on average.
People who enjoy applying their design and tech skills will find this job extremely personally satisfying.
Better prospects exist for network engineers knowledgeable and experienced in cloud computing.
The reason for this is that many companies switch to cloud-based networks instead of creating their in-house systems.
Network engineers can advance to the position of a Computer and Information Systems Manager or a Senior Network Engineer.
Similar to other tech careers, network engineers are in high demand because businesses and organizations require electronic communications networks.
To start such a career, one needs a bachelor’s degree in a related subject and experience in IT.
The job of a network engineer is perfect for those who enjoy working with and building technology.