What Does A Network Engineer Do?

"I have always been interested in computers so I’m going to be pursuing a computer-related bachelor’s degree in college. As part of my planning, I looked into the possible jobs in the field and came across something that seemed new to me—that of a network engineer. Please tell me more about what a network engineer does."

asked by Brad M. from Salina, Kansas

Network engineers are the architects of a company’s computer network. This is the reason why they are also known as network architects. Their job entails designing, implementing, maintaining and developing the company’s data communications networks. They see to it that the network infrastructure is available to all the organization’s users.

They ensure that the company’s computers, voice and firewall systems are functioning as they should for the firm’s staff, customers, clients and others who may need to use the system for business purposes. Network engineers are different from network administrators because the latter are concerned with providing daily support to the computer’s network. Network engineers are concerned with planning and implementation at the highest levels.

Depending on the size of the organization, the network engineer may be in charge of a single part of the entire system or he may take care of the entire network. They may also work with different types of networks such as LANs or local area networks, MANs or metropolitan area networks, WANs or wide area networks, WLANs or wireless local area network or VoIP or voice over internet protocol network, among others.

Network engineers configure the system, install it and define and stipulating the standards it should follow. After they have established the company’s networking environment, they continue to work to improve it and make it more durable. They constantly monitor the network’s performance and respond to network problems, troubleshooting when needed. They also take care of upgrading the network so that it becomes more resilient.

One of the most important aspects of the job of network engineers occurs during the installation phase. Since the network equipment can be installed outside the company’s headquarters, they provide remote support for the engineers and users who are on-site. If there are problems during the initial installation, they also give the support that they need remotely. They continue to work with and communicate with the project management team and other engineers regularly.

As far as security is concerned, network engineers establish and enforce regulations as to who can access the network. They support and administer firewalls following IT security protocol. If there are issues with the network’s security, they gather information from various sources to determine the cause. They then constantly report to the company’s management on the network’s operational status based on the information they have gathered.

Since the developments in computer technology move fast, it is also the responsibility of computer engineers to keep themselves updated. They need to read professional publications and join professional organizations that allow them to network with others in the industry. They also need to undertake continuing education so they are kept abreast of the latest technological developments.

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