How to Become a Network Engineer

Modis Posted 21 March 2019

Network engineers are the cartographers of the IT world. These specialists create, implement, and oversee computer networks within an organization. The main goal of a network engineer is to create network systems that all employees can easily use, and to foresee any major problems likely to arise when using a network.

Most network engineers report directly to a company's chief technology officer (CTO). They can either work independently or as part of a larger engineering team. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of network engineering is expected to grow by roughly 6 percent in the next five or six years as companies invest more in changing and expanding technology.

The Role of a Network Engineer

Network engineers are expected to keep things running in the IT department. This can mean holding employee training seminars, fixing any reported email or other network problems, and working with team members to fix network issues. They are also responsible for figuring out ways to increase a network or create more efficient systems.

Alternate Job Titles

There are many different types of network engineers and some companies create alternate titles for these experts including the following:

  • Network Architect
  • Network Manager
  • Wireless Network Engineer
  • Network Engineer
  • Network Analyst
  • Service Desk Analyst

Duties expected of this profession depend on a job description, but they are always centered around designing, maintaining, and implementing network systems.

Salary Range for a Network Engineer

As more companies invest in new and emerging technology, network engineers will be more in-demand. In turn, the salary range for this type of professional is expected to increase. Currently, a network engineer can make anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, based on the size of the company and its role requirements.

man working on a computer in an office

Education Requirements for a Network Engineer

A bachelor's degree in programming, engineering, computer science, or another related field is required to obtain an entry-level network engineer position. Many companies prefer applicants that have obtained a higher level of education. E.g., a Master of Business Administration in Information Systems.

Experience is key. Starting with an entry-level position at a smaller company can help with obtaining necessary experience and skills. It can also determine whether or not this type of position is a good fit.

A network engineer with more than ten years of experience is likely to be seen as a better hire for a major company than a recent graduate as these seasoned professionals will have previously handled network complications.

Niche Network Engineering

A solid way to obtain lucrative contracts in the network engineering field is to specialize in one area of the profession. Here are some niche avenues to take:

  • Cloud
  • Security
  • Stack
  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning

Developing a niche in any of these areas means taking additional courses and some possibly lower paying positions in order to build a deeper level of these areas. Time spent in school may be expanded with extra coursework, but having a niche in this industry can make a difference.

Personality and Job Skill Requirements

Unlike other engineering positions, the role of a network engineer requires personality or “soft skills" in addition to academic or “hard" skills. Some of the things human resource experts look for in potential network engineers:

  • Creativity
  • Resourcefulness
  • Resilience
  • Leadership Skills
  • People Skills

Network engineers must be able to provide rapid solutions in addition to working with team members and other company employees. Candidates who can demonstrate these skills are highly sought after. Consider brushing up on your interviewing skills if you are new to the field or if you haven't interviewed in a while. This includes learning how to master a video interview. We offer some key tips in this article that may make your next interview much less nerve-wracking.

Where to Find Work

Some key terms to look for if you are just beginning your career as a network engineer include: entry-level, new graduate, and junior. If you have been in the industry for a number of years, look for positions that include words like “seasoned," “experienced," and “proven track record." Sometimes reading through a job posting can be a matter of understanding these key terms and determining whether or not you are a good fit for the position.

No matter where you are in your career, finding a lucrative position as a network engineer isn't difficult if you live in a city or town that's home to numerous companies. Almost all companies need to have this type of specialist on staff.

Some of the places to look for work include company job boards and on in the “job openings" section of our website. You can also submit your resume if you are currently seeking new job opportunities. We also keep up with the latest salary trends and changes, so be sure to check out our salary guide.

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