A technology expert who can plan, deploy and monitor computer networks that support voice, data, video, and internal wireless services is called a network engineer. Although the names of network professionals and network administrators are sometimes interchangeably used, a network engineer typically has more managerial responsibility than a network administrator. The technical part deals more with planning, design and technical specifications, while the administrative part deals mainly with daily maintenance, administration, and troubleshooting.
Job titles can also be varied according to training and earnings. Typically, a network engineer has more training and more than one network administrator.
Responsibility of a network engineer
Network engineers focus on providing high availability network infrastructures to support users' online and local IT operations. Network engineers often overlap with other roles, such as Computer network architects or security system engineers, and work internally or as external consultants.
Coming to the network engineer key skills, Network engineers design and implement network configurations, solve performance issues, monitor the network, and configure security systems such as firewalls. They often consult with a CIO, an information security manager, and other business unit executives to discuss and set general corporate goals, policies, and updates to network status. In many situations, network engineers work closely with project managers and other engineers, manage capacity, and provide remote or on-site support.
Qualifications for a network engineer
Several institutions offer training programs for network engineers. A network engineer may only need an associated diploma to get an entry-level job. For most positions, however, a degree in computer science or additional experience is required. Many network engineers also come from areas such as electrical, physical or mathematical engineering. For many engineers, further qualifications and training are linked to the Cisco certification program for engineers, which offers five career opportunities. Additional certifications are available from suppliers and organizations such as Juniper Networks, Microsoft, Aruba, Alcatel-Lucent, Riverbed Technology Inc., SolarWinds, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Extreme Networks Inc. and IPv6 Forums.
In addition to technical skills, network engineers need analytical skills, leadership, and organizational skills. Attention to detail and problem-solving skills are also necessary. Engineers must be able to understand complex networks and identify problems or suggest improvements. They must also be able to work together and train other engineers and support staff to manage the network. And they must be flexible enough to work with engineers and industry colleagues who may not understand the network.
Network engineers are becoming increasingly familiar with application and software development, reflecting the growing role of automation and software-defined network. Therefore, engineers must understand traffic flow, application priority, and data transport. Furthermore, engineers should become familiar with hyper-convergence, virtualization, security, containers, wide area networks, and storage technology.
Career path of the network engineer
Network technicians' salaries range from $ 46,500 to over $ 115,000 a year, depending on skills and experience. Engineers can also earn bonuses and some employers also offer profit sharing. Network technicians work 40 hours a week but can be called on weekends, evenings, and after hours to solve technical problems.
Network engineers can also follow different paths in the network area. Network analysts specialize in installing and maintaining networks and often overlap the technical and commercial side of an organization. Network operators play a similar role but must educate and manage network engineers. More specialized functions include cloud network architects who help organizations provide cloud infrastructures and network security specialists that identify and prevent network security threats. Other specialists focus on engineering for VoIP, telecommunications and data centers.