Network Engineer

Network Engineer

Network Engineering Description & Definition


Mustafa Ali


September 14, 2022

Network Engineering Description

A network engineer is a technology professional who is highly skilled in maintaining the connectivity of networks in terms of data, voice, calls, videos, and wireless network services. Network engineers are also referred to as network architects. Field Engineer’s network engineering definition includes being accountable for formulating, implementing, and executing the entirety of computer networks within an organization.

Network engineers ensure all network systems are functioning properly and their fundamental goal is to provide maximum network infrastructure, security, and performance to the end users. Depending on an organization’s requirement or network complexity, the organization will sometimes have global network engineers in different countries who take care of technological advancements throughout the firm. This international web of engineers proves cost-effective for an organization while also meeting the needs of users and the business.

Network Engineering Job Skills

A network engineer is required to have the necessary skills to plan, implement, and oversee the computer networks that support in-house voice, data, videos, and wireless network services for an organization. Network engineers focus on delivering high-availability network infrastructure to sustain the onsite and remote information technology activities of users. The virtual network poses challenges to network management systems and as more hardware components are virtualized, that challenge becomes even greater. In addition to technical skills, network engineers need analytical, leadership, communication, and organizational skills.

Responsibilities of a Network Engineer

Network engineering remains one of the top technology fields in today’s job market. Within network engineering a wide variety of positions exist, providing plenty of opportunity for growth and increased challenges within the field.

Key Responsibilities

  • Plan for new initiatives and expand the existing network infrastructure.
  • Provide consistent solutions based on issues like traffic congestion, infrastructure upgrades, and routine troubleshooting.
  • Document solutions/blueprints for any network-related issues.
  • Install any hardware or software, create back-ups for all systems, and monitor the system performance.

Network Engineers Career Growth and Salary

In this digital world, technology has grown tremendously, and the demand for network engineers has grown along with it. There are a multitude of network engineer jobs available in the marketplace, where companies are looking for skilled, talented, and certified professionals who can work with their specific project needs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job opportunities for network engineers will grow by 5% from 2020 to 2030.

The network engineer salary ranges from $76,000 to more than $159,000 annually, depending upon skills, experience, location, and industry.

Starting a Career in Network Engineering

Before you step into the computer networking industry, you should know what area you want to specialize in. Networking alone is a huge industry. There are many specialties you can concentrate on including security, server administration, WAN (wide area network) monitoring, NOC (network operation center) checking, work area organization, and even cabling and equipment installation, such as switches and enterprise routers. It’s important to choose a specialty that interests you.

Computer network engineers usually have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field and often they will hold an advanced degree and relevant certifications.

Network Engineering can certainly be self-taught. You can begin with a CCNA Home Lab, for instance, for a couple hundred dollars. However, if you are just starting in this profession, professional schools, colleges, or online training that offer a specialization in networking would be beneficial—just make sure the school or training you select has the appropriate courses for your specialization.

If you are exploring certifications, the first certification you may want to earn is the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or one of the top five networking certifications: CCIE, CCNP, JNCIE-ENT, CompTIA Network+, and WCNA. There are additional certifications listed below.

Network Engineer vs Network Administrator

People often confuse the terms network engineer and network administrator by using them interchangeably. Since both terms belong to the same background but have some differences in their job roles, let’s have a quick look at what distinguishes them from each other:

  • A network engineer designs and develops both the physical and wireless networks, whereas a network administrator is responsible for maintaining the network once it is developed.
  • A network engineer troubleshoots network problems, and a network administrator implements security programs with hardware and software.
  • For a network engineer, a B.S or M.S in computer science, engineering or programming is required. However, many organizations prefer network administrators have a degree and additional certifications in programs, such as Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft, and Red Hat

Specific Positions

Network engineering job descriptions will vary with an organization’s requirements and culture. Each position has different responsibilities and requires a different skill set and qualifications, which we have summarized below.

Network Specialist

The daily activity of a network specialist consists of overseeing groups of PCs that work together, while guaranteeing that users have the right networks based on their business needs. A network specialist ensures that the network works effectively. This may include collecting information on the network’s performance, keeping up on network security and fixing issues as they emerge. A network specialist may need to remove and install software and hardware as well as oversee training new network users and providing security authorizations.

Network Technician

Network technicians monitor the everyday operations of an organization’s computer network, and they may also help to install software and hardware. They should communicate with clients and other network experts to develop and implement new safety measures to ensure that all systems and data are protected. Network technicians in this field help tackle PC issues and determine the best strategy to meet an organization’s technological needs.

Network Administrator

A network administrator (also called a system administrator) is responsible for keeping a company’s computer network up-to-date and running easily. Any company that uses multiple PCs or software platforms needs a network administrator to coordinate the different systems.

This position can be flexible or quite limited depending upon the company and how complex its networks are. But in general, a network administrator is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Installing computer systems and network
  • Maintaining, repairing, and upgrading computer systems and networks
  • Diagnosing and fixing issues with the network and its software, hardware, and systems
  • Monitoring systems and networks to enhance performance.

Network Analyst

A network analyst is responsible for the installation and maintenance of a network within an organization. Many network analysts discover that they become key personnel in both the business and technical sides of an organization where an important role is identifying business issues and applying a technical solution. A network analyst is required to design, plan, analyze, and provide technical help for data communication networks or groups of networks in the organization. Work can also incorporate research and assessment of network technology.

This position is commonly found in large retail companies and government and financial institutions, Additionally, frequent job openings are available in IT organizations that have some expertise in troubleshooting projects.

Network Manager

A network manager has a two-part role:

  • Responsibility for installing and maintaining the organization’s computer networks
  • Training and preparing staff to give top notch specialized help.

If there are issues with the system, a network manager’s responsibility is to have a recovery plan in place to limit any disturbance to the business. As most businesses are dependent on technology, this is a key component to a smoothly running business. Also, depending upon the size of the company a network manager may have more than one sort of network to oversee.

Network managers are also tasked with developing new systems as an organization changes and grows. Network managers are vital members of an IT group alongside project managers, network engineers, and support staff and must understand the needs of a business from an operational and service-related perspective.

Network Engineer

Network engineers work with an organization’s computer network, utilizing information technology to develop network systems for everyone in an organization to use. These information networks can include local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), intranets, and extranets. The complexity of the network can vary depending on the business, and the organization may have one committed specialist or several all-inclusive, associated engineers cooperating with the Chief Technology Officer. Network engineers may have different levels of security and responsibility related to their skill set, experience, and job description:

  • Network Support Engineer
  • Level 2 Support Engineer
  • Network Engineer – Field Installation
  • Network Engineer – Helpdesk Analyst
  • Senior Managed Service Network Engineer

Network Solutions Architect

A network solutions architect defines current and future standards for networking and telecommunication infrastructure. The ideal candidate has experience with firewalls, understanding of Linux/Unix configurations, knowledge of VLANs, VSANS, and Hypervisors, and familiarity with internet routing and connectivity and configuration of wireless access points.

Specializations for a Network Engineer

To enhance a networking career, you might need to specialize in one or more areas of networking. After specializing, the networking jobs you may decide to apply for can include the following roles.

Network Security Specialist

A network security specialist provides support to the computer networks by detecting, preventing, and resolving threats to the networks. A person in this position also analyzes security risks and develops security measures to address the threats. Secondary duties may include installing computer security software, developing and testing software deployment tools, creating documentation for users and conducting security audits.

Cloud Networking Architect

A cloud networking architect works closely with customers by assisting them with the deployment of infrastructure that meets their technical and business needs. The candidate must have deep knowledge of cloud technologies, experience in migrating networks to the cloud, capability to solve network-related issues, troubleshooting skills, and effective verbal and written communication skills.

Networking Research and Development Specialist

A networking research and development specialist has excellent communication skills. This type of specialist works with internal and external clients, vendors, and other information technology professionals and is required to communicate in both technical and non-technical language. Working well individually and or in a group may also be required. A networking research and development specialist might need to lift and transport heavy computer equipment, travel, or install networking cables or devices.

Wireless Networking QA Engineer

Wireless networking QA engineers use their program coding and testing skills to help software developers enhance product performance. Engineers typically work for software companies, equipment manufacturers, wholesalers, and other industries.

Wireless Infrastructure and Mobility Specialist

A person in this position is responsible for project implementation, software delivery, capacity management, network support, new features implementation, and operations of the wireless core. This individual’s skill set should include managing and supporting wireless infrastructure, including HSPA voice core, VoLTE/IMS, VoWiFi, Enhanced Packet Core, SS7 and diameter networks, network translations and trunking, and CDMA. Also, this person ensures that the wireless core network provides highly available service and the best voice and data experience for users. A wireless infrastructure and mobility specialist also delivers new services and projects efficiently and with flexibility to support the business and its customers.

Mobility Solutions Architect

A mobility solutions architect is expected to collaborate with businesses, developers, and fellow architects in order to provide mobility solutions that are robust, secure, and scalable. This role ensures the overall quality of the architecture solutions and shares it with the cross-functional team and executive leadership. The individual should also have hands-on experience in multiple hardware and software environments and be comfortable handling heterogeneous systems.

VOIP Engineer

A VOIP Engineer plans, designs, and implements the voice infrastructure and proposes solutions to the existing voice and data networks. The VOIP engineers are expected to maintain, troubleshoot, and provide solutions to complex software and hardware problems, maintain good relationships, and communicate effectively with clients and teammates.

Telecom Project Manager

A telecom project manager is responsible for handling a team, which includes engineers and client representatives. The main role of a project manager is to analyze, maintain, and control all the aspects of the project, from both a technical and managerial perspective. The desired skills of a project manager include understanding logical configuration, having good client-interfacing skills, and a clear understanding of telecom business scenarios.

Data Center Networking Specialist

With the increase in the complexity of the networks, managing data centers has become an ongoing challenge. The role of a data center networking specialist is to manage the infrastructure in a way that ensures the business is agile and reliable. A data center networking specialist is expected to perform technical installation and complex design of network equipment that includes routers, switches, and other devices which are common in data centers.

Certifications to Advance Your Networking Career:

Alcatel-Lucent Certifications

  • Alcatel-Lucent Network Routing Specialist I (NRS I)
  • Alcatel-Lucent Network Routing Specialist II (NRS II)

Aruba Networks Certifications

BICSI Certifications

  • ITS Technician

Certification Partners

  • Certified in Convergent Network Technologies (CCNT)

Cisco Certifications

  • Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)
  • Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching (CCNA)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate Wireless (CCNA Wireless)
  • Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP)
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional Routing and Switching (CCNP)
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional Wireless (CCNP Wireless)
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Routing and Switching
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert Wireless (CCIE Wireless)

CompTIA Certifications

  • CompTIA Network+

Certified Wireless Network Professional (CWNP)

  • Certified Wireless Technology Specialist (CWTS)
  • Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)
  • Certified Wireless Design Professional (CWDP)
  • Certified Wireless Analysis Professional (CWAP)
  • Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE)

Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) International Certifications

  • Certified Network Computer Technician (CNCT)
  • Certified Network Systems Technician (CNST)
  • Wireless Network Technician (WNT)

Extreme Networks Certifications

  • Extreme Networks Certified Specialist (ECS)
  • Extreme Networks Certified Expert (ECE)
  • Enterasys Certified Architect (ECA)

HP Expertone Networking Certifications

  • HP Accredited Integration Specialist (HP AIS) – Network Infrastructure
  • HP Accredited Solutions Expert (HP ASE) – Network Architect
  • HP Accredited Solutions Expert (HP ASE) – Network Infrastructure
  • HP Accredited Solutions Expert (HP ASE) – Wireless Networks Implementer
  • HP Master Accredited Systems Engineer (HP Master ASE) – Network Infrastructure
  • HP Master Accredited Systems Engineer (HP Master ASE) – Wireless Networks Implementer

Hurricane Electric Internet Services Certifications

  • Hurricane Electric IPv6 Certification

IPv6 Forum Certifications

  • IPv6 Forum Silver Certified Engineer
  • IPv6 Forum Gold Certified Engineer

Juniper Networks Certifications

  • Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Enterprise Switching and Routing (JNCIS-ENT)
  • Juniper Networks Certified Professional Enterprise Switching and Routing (JNCIP-ENT)
  • Juniper Networks Certified Expert Enterprise Switching and Routing (JNCIE-ENT)
  • Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Wireless LAN (JNCIS-WLAN)

Oracle Certifications

  • Oracle Certified Expert, Oracle Solaris 10 Network Administrator (OCE)

Palo Alto Certifications

  • Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (CNSE)

Riverbed Professional Services (RPS) Certifications

  • Riverbed Certified Solutions Associate – Network Performance Management (RCSA-NPM)
  • Riverbed Certified Solutions Professional – Network Performance Management (RCSP-NPM)

SolarWinds Certifications

  • SolarWinds Certified Professional (SCP)

Wireshark Certifications

  • Wireshark Certified Network Analyst (WCNA)

A network engineer has many options in today’s work environment. Finding employment opportunities using an on-demand marketplace such as Field Engineer (FE) can be a helpful way to grow a career in this promising field. Sign-up and start your freelance career today!


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