Network engineers are responsible for designing, planning, and constructing data communication networks. Whether a connection needs to be restricted (between parties) or all-encompassing (cloud systems), a network engineer can provide clients with appropriate networking capabilities. Considered network architects, this type of engineer must have deep knowledge concerning computer network systems and their applications.
Why Become A Network Engineer
The objective of a network engineer is to create new networks and prepare for future networking needs. They analyze current technological trends and organizational needs to provide their employers the necessary capabilities to successfully connect.
Their responsibilities include planning communication systems for local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets; providing information and presentations to organizational management regarding plans and needs; upgrading software and hardware; coordinating with computer hardware engineers to build networks; monitoring and implementing network security needs; and maintaining knowledge regarding up-to-date technological advancements in the field.
Computer networks are important to education, business, healthcare, and personal communication, so it is equally important that computer network engineers exhibit certain traits that enable their success as network masterminds:
Knowledge of science and mathematics
Excellent communication skills
Network Engineer Work Environment
Network engineers work indoors, mostly in offices. Because they are the architects of a network, they also operate in server rooms to directly work with the hardware components of the network. Nearly a quarter of all network engineers are employed by the computer systems design industry, while others work in finance, insurance, wired telecommunications, management, and the government.
Almost all network engineers work fulltime, during normal business hours. This type of job does not require much overtime, and only about 25 percent of network engineers work more than 40 hours per week.
Network Engineer Salary
The salary of a network engineer was $98,430, per year, in 2014. The pay for this occupation ranges from $55,160 to $150,460, annually, with network engineers earning the most in finance and insurance at $107,010, per year. Those working in telecommunications will see the next highest earnings at $104,320, followed by computer systems design services at $99,030, management at $97,460, and the government at $71,990.
Network Engineer Career Outlook
From 2014 to 2024, this occupation is expected to grow 9 percent. Organizations and individuals are increasingly dependent upon information technology (IT) services. There will be a demand for network engineers to design new systems as well as upgrade existing systems. One of the fastest growing industries for IT networking is in healthcare. As more medical providers look to create and maintain electronic records, the need for network engineers will grow.
Although this profession is emergent and IT services will continue to be in demand, the advent of cloud services will reduce the need for many organizations to hire the own network engineers. Cloud service providers will still need to employ these individuals.
To become a network engineer, an individual must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field.
Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree. Many bachelor’s degree programs exist for aspiring network engineers: computer science, information systems, engineering, and more. Individuals can expect to learn about database design, computer programming, network security, network technologies, and operating systems. It is important for students to gain hands-on training, either in a computer laboratory setting or internship.
Step 2: Obtain a master’s degree (recommended). Although most entry-level jobs require only a bachelor’s degree, many network engineers advance their careers through work experience and continuing education. Some career paths may require a specific degree, although the most common is to earn a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems. Courses typically consist of advanced technologies, wireless capabilities, Internet protocols, and telecommunications construction.
Step 3: Earn vendor-specific certifications. With or without a graduate degree, network engineers may want to pursue vendor-specific training and certification. Employers may require certain product knowledge, and it is beneficial to learn about specific products to advance and continue education.