Network engineering is an in-demand career path in today’s IT industry. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 6 percent increase in network engineering jobs over the next couple of years. A typical network engineer salary range is between $49,000 to $132,000 annually. Interestingly, network engineering has a high salary potential. If you’ve been asking yourself “what does a network engineer do,” this article will help. We explore some of the core responsibilities, skills, and qualifications.
Network Engineer Defined
A network engineer is an information technology professional with specific professional skills to oversee the daily operation of computer networks. Sometimes, the role of a network engineer overlaps with other job titles like computer network architect, network administrator, and network security engineer. The significant difference is that these IT professionals have more executive responsibilities.
The work of network engineers involves planning, design, and technical specifications. More so, they troubleshoot network performance issues and configure network security systems. A network engineer also handles the day-to-day maintenance and management of computer systems.
The different job titles are often differentiated by salary or education. Essentially, network engineers earn higher salaries than other positions in the IT industry. They can fill in several roles in the IT sector, including help desk support and systems engineer. What’s more, their responsibilities are similar to that of a VoIP engineer.
Network engineers must possess the required skills and qualifications to plan, implement, and coordinate computer systems that support in-house voice, wireless network services, video, and data. They must know how to establish a networking environment. This involves learning how to design system configuration and direct system installation. Additionally, they should be able to define, document, and enforce industry-standard protocols.
Also, network engineers design complex networks and identify potential issues. They leverage information from various sources to investigate data network faults. The role sometimes overlaps with that of a network security specialist. They’re expected to develop viable strategies like creating a firewall to mitigate common cyber security threats. They then report these issues to a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer.
In many situations, network engineers work closely with other IT professionals. This includes information systems managers and project managers. They also take on specialized roles in organizations. For example, they might be required to work with specific network types like MANs, LAN, WANs, WLAN, GANs, SAN, CAN, VoIP, and PAN.
Skills and Qualifications
While the certification for entry-level network engineer jobs is a network associate’s degree, some positions may require a bachelor’s degree in computer science and years of professional work experience. Even without a computer science degree, you can pursue a career in the network engineering field. For example, a degree in electrical engineering combined with a Masters degree in information technology or a Master of Science can set you up for a rewarding career in network engineering.
For more information, it’s best to refer to a university catalog to find institutions that offer network engineering certification programs. Endeavor to get the materials of the core courses. Consider additional certifications like the Cisco engineering certification program. This program produces employment opportunities in diverse fields and you can take up network technician or network analyst roles. Other network engineering certifications include CompTIA and VMware.
Furthermore, network engineers must have background knowledge in the development of software applications. Additionally, these information technology professionals must understand network complexity. Some important skills network engineers must possess various soft skills. They include technical skills, problem-solving skills, management skills, marketable skills, analytical skills, communications skills, managerial skills, and organizational skills.
It’s also vital to add that most employers expect potential hires to acquire more professional qualifications. It gives the candidate a comparative advantage over other candidates. No doubt, you should have real-world experience in related areas if you are considering becoming a network engineer.