How to Become an Expert Network Engineer in 2023
Today, the world relies on digital environments to get work done, and internal networks have become essential for all company leaders. From local area networks to wireless LANs, they are required to complete most business functions. When companies experience issues in these areas, these businesses need a network engineer to help resolve any problems. Network engineers oversee all the tasks of these digital systems. They also ensure their business goals are met according to specific network criteria. If you are interested in becoming a network engineer, here are a few steps you will want to know.
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What Does a Network Engineer Do?
Network engineers are responsible for designing, managing, and implementing complex computer systems. From small businesses to larger corporations, they all rely on these computer networks to conduct business. These networks include intranet, phone, and Wi-Fi/internet systems. Once the system infrastructures have been built and launched, the network engineer will maintain those systems.
Since the job is vital to business operations, network engineers need to be expert critical thinkers. These individuals must have plenty of experience working within a complex network for a business. All network engineers need to have a background in information security and technology. Also, they must understand the latest hardware and software trends. These network engineers will oversee several aspects of a network, including everything from software updates to data management to security.
Individuals interested in this field must have the right mix of problem-solving experience and IT knowledge. In many cases, network engineers will have to fix and respond to problems within the network. They need to have proactive solutions in place to prevent any issues from happening in the first place. Some of the typical duties of a network engineer include the following:
– Implementing new hardware or software into the network
– Building networks for a variety of organization types
– Updating and maintaining systems and networks
– Installing the proper equipment to distribute throughout the network, including servers and routers
– Troubleshooting any network issues
– Managing security systems, such as virus protection software, data storage, and firewalls
– Using the best practices to protect information, like data backups
– Ensuring that the network performance meets the needs of the business
– Optimize services by working with software providers and vendors
– Delivering technical expertise to department and business leaders
These roles are not entry-level, but anyone can start on this career path. Network engineers often need to manage other members of the IT team. For that reason, these professionals need soft skills such as communication, team management, collaboration, leadership, and patience.
How To Become a Network Engineer
If you are considering this rewarding path, there are a few steps you will want to take. With a plan in place, you can take out the guesswork and start down the road towards a career as a network engineer.
#1 – Study in a Relevant Field
All network engineers will need to have some type of higher education degree. At the very least, you will need a bachelor’s degree in a related field. While some network engineers may only have an associate’s degree, typically, that is not enough for most companies. A relevant degree should be in the studies of data science, computer science, information technology, information systems, or computer engineering. Sometimes, a school will offer a program specializing in network engineering studies. Remember that not every network engineering position will require a master’s degree. However, if you want a senior-level role, you should look at completing an engineer or computer science degree at the graduate level.
#2 – Gain Experience in the Field
Many future network engineers will want to look at current job postings, especially the “qualifications” section. Usually, businesses will outline the type of task they want for an engineer, including work experience and education requirements. With that information, you can understand how to gain the right degrees, experience, and certification for the job. Also, reach out to any network engineers in the field. They may help you with a few tips to reach your goal. Finding a mentor or connecting with an industry leader can help you discover your options to become a network engineer.
Along with that, you will need to find a job in the computer science field. Most network engineering roles will require candidates to have 5 to 10 years of experience. After receiving your degree, you will want to look for jobs as a system administrator, network technician, network administrator, computer network analyst, or similar role. These jobs are ideal for gaining real-world experience working and managing a business network.
#3 – Get the Right Certifications
Education and experience are essential, but you also need the proper certifications in the field. Since technology changes rapidly, you will want to be updated-to-date with the latest skills. Also, these certifications will look great on your resume, helping you to stay ahead of the competition.
#4 – Learn About Specific Products
As a network engineer, you should learn about specific brands and devices you may use on the job. Some companies want you to have experience with certain products, like Cisco. With that, you need to have experience using them or understand how they function. The vendors often offer their own certification for their products, which will look great on your resume. Microsoft, Amazon, and Linux are some of the top vendors that offer highly sought-after certifications.
Network Engineer Salary
Now that you know the steps to become a network engineer, what is the pay range? In many cases, the average salary will depend on your location and the role level. A network engineer is not confined to one type of business. These professionals can work in education, enterprise, finance, legal, and other fields, assisting companies with their networks.
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, data shows that computer network architects make an average salary of $116,780 per year, while computer and network systems administrators earn $84,810 per year. However, more data show most network engineers make an average of $85,301 per year in the United States.
Over the next decade, computer-based occupations, especially network engineers, are expected to increase by over 11% by 2029. The network engineering field is expected to grow by 4% during the same period. If you want to find a job with plenty of growth opportunities, then a network engineer could be an excellent choice for you.
Related: Course Certificate
Take Steps To Become a Network Engineer
If you want to work as a network engineer, you need to have the right amount of education, network and IT experience, and certification. Along with that, you need to have a problem-solving spirit to help figure out any issue within the network. Now more than ever, businesses rely on networks to keep them operational. As a result, network engineers will be in-demand careers for many years to come.
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