This article will go over every aspect of the network engineer job description, including main duties, qualifications and training, essential skills, working hours, and job prospects.
Network engineers are people responsible for building digital information networks, which just about every business or organization uses. Aside from building and designing digital network systems, they also are responsible for troubleshooting and fixing these systems when something goes wrong. It is an ideal position for people who wish to combine a love for computer networking technology and building things.
Job Overview: What Does a Network Engineer Do?
Network engineers design and implement computer networks for their employers. A network engineer can find work in any organization that needs a computer network, which nowadays, is the vast majority of employers. They can be employed by businesses in the private sector, government agencies, nonprofits, and more.
Some employers differentiate between the role of a network engineer (builds networks) and the role of a network architect (designs networks), although the positions are also often synonymous. Network engineers are also responsible for maintaining and upgrading networks they build, as well as fixing problems when they occur.
Network engineers can expect to make about $70,411 a year.
Network Engineer Job Duties
- Builds computer networks designed by network architects.
- Designs computer networks.
- Remains up-to-date with new information technologies that might benefit their organization in the future.
- Presents and explains plans and information regarding computer network systems to management.
- Has information security in mind.
- Upgrades hardware whenever necessary.
- Upgrades software whenever necessary.
- Ensures firewalls are installed and functioning properly.
- Considers future connections to other networks and future upgrades when designing a network.
- Analyzes current data traffic to predict the needs of the network and the organization in the future.
- Tests network performance and security.
Network Engineer Job Essential Skills
Interpersonal skills. Network engineers have to be able to explain and discuss complex technological subjects with non-IT employees.
Specialized tech skills. Network engineers must have extensive knowledge of a variety of different types of hardware and software, as well as electronic network infrastructure.
Attention to detail. Building a computer network requires every piece to be where it should be. A network engineer has to have impeccable attention to detail to ensure the network is being constructed in the way it was intended, so it will function properly.
Analytical skills. Network engineers have to be able to analyze the systems they are building for potential issues or weaknesses, as well as find ways for them to connect with existing or outside systems.
Problem-solving skills. When something isn’t working right with the network, network engineers need to be able to troubleshoot and solve the problem quickly.
Becoming A Network Engineer
Network engineers must have at least a bachelor’s degree, with some employers preferring master’s degrees. Prior work experience in IT, usually as a network administrator, is required by the network engineer job description.
Because this is a tech-heavy career, applicants must have in-depth knowledge of and experience with different kinds of network hardware and software. Various certifications from product or software vendors can improve job prospects . Continuing education, given the rapidly-changing nature of the tech world, is necessary.
Qualifications and Training
To become a network engineer, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, information systems, or other related field is needed. A program that provides the opportunity for hands-on network and database design is optimal.
Internships are also always helpful in increasing students’ job prospects. Occasionally, an employer will want to see a master’s degree in business with a specialization in information systems.
Certifications from relevant tech vendors can improve career prospects. It is possible for companies to require certification in the types of systems they use. Network engineers do not have to be certified by any state or federal governing body, nor pass exams to find work. They have to possess and cultivate creativity, as designing individualized networks often calls for some creative thinking.
Continuing education is a must for network engineers. There is nothing more dangerous for a network engineer than having their knowledge of computer networking systems be out of date. The technological landscape changes so frequently that network engineers need to always be aware of new tech that is coming out, network design trends, and up-to-date cyber security. This helps them improve on existing networks, as well as take different approaches to new networks.
This is not a job you can typically get without work experience. Network engineers have to have a very solid understanding of IT systems and how they work. Most positions require five to ten years of experience working in IT.
Many network engineers have prior experience as network systems administrators. College students can accumulate experience with information technology and computer networking systems both in hands-on university training programs and internships.
Some computer science degrees may have an internship as a requirement for graduation, or have reciprocal agreements with local firms to give students more hands-on experience.
Network engineers typically work full-time, salaried jobs. They spend most of their time in offices and server rooms. Extra or long working hours are not uncommon in this profession.
If there is an issue with a network the engineer created or maintains, he or she will need to respond and get that network up and running as soon as possible. Because a company’s network is heavily in use during regular office hours, some network engineers work odd or after-hour shifts.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
Like many tech careers, network engineers are in demand due to businesses expanding their IT departments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this position is expected to grow 9% through 2024, which is characterized as faster than average.
The pay is very good as well, with an average of $70,411 per year. Becoming a network engineer can offer a lot of personal satisfaction to individuals who like to combine tech skills with design.
Network engineers with experience and knowledge of cloud computing have better job prospects, as many businesses are moving to cloud-based networks rather than designing their own in-house systems. Network engineers can advance to Senior Network Engineer or Computer and Information Systems Manager.
Like most technology-focused careers, network engineers are relatively in high demand thanks to the necessity of electronic communications networks for businesses and other organizations.
To get into this career, you need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant topic, as well as work experience in IT. The network engineer job description is ideal for people who enjoy working with and building technology.