A network engineer, also known as a “network architect”, is a professional responsible for working on a company’s computer network. He or she makes it possible for each employee to connect to and access systems on the network. A network engineer works on wide area networks (WANs), local area networks (LANs), intranets, and extranets.

The complexity of a network engineer’s tasks depends on the scale and operations of the company he or she works for. In such cases, several network engineers of a multinational company (MNC) work together under the Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

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what is a network engineer

Cisco expects the roles of network engineers to expand in the years to come. Those keen on pursuing this career path would benefit from learning all the requirements and more.

What Should One Study to Become a Network Engineer?

To become a network engineer, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, computer programming, or any computer-related field. If you plan to advance your career and work for an MNC, getting a master’s degree is a plus. 

Apart from getting the right degree, at least 3–5 years of relevant working experience in network or IT system administration is also preferred.

Obtaining additional training and certifications would also help further a network engineer’s career. Some of the notable certifications a network engineer can get include:

  • Cisco-Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)
  • Cisco-Certified Network Associate (CCNA)—Routing and Switching
  • Cisco-Certified Network Professional Level (CCNP)—Routing and Switching
  • CompTIA A+ Certification
  • CompTIA Network+ Certification
  • Microsoft-Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2016
  • Microsoft-Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Core Infrastructure
  • VMware-Certified Professional—Network Virtualization

What Skills Should a Network Engineer Have?

Hard Skills

A network engineer must be able to:

  • Develop an email system, websites, and pages
  • Provide identification codes for network devices to ensure proper data flow
  • Create network hubs
  • Set up and organize firewalls and routers to facilitate network traffic flow

Soft Skills

Aside from these hard skills, network engineers also need to develop soft skills that include:

  • Analytical skills: Since they will deal with complicated network systems, network engineers need to intensely analyze and carefully assess the network for flaws and come up with solutions to create an ideal setup. They are also responsible for developing complex blueprints to make sure the entire network works seamlessly.
  • Leadership skills: Network engineers need to supervise a team and so must also have leadership skills to train other engineers under them.
  • Organizational skills: Part of a network engineer’s tasks is to make sure all network-connected systems work simultaneously. To do that, they need to be organized.

How Much does a Network Engineer Earn on Average?

According to Glassdoor, a network engineer based in the U.S. can earn an average of US$72,362 a year. The pay can change, depending on the engineer’s experience and expertise. His or her company location would also affect his or her compensation.

Despite the widespread use of cloud networking, network engineers would continue to play a significant role in the years to come.