What is network engineer? – Definition

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Jan 10, 2018

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Network engineer

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. Sometimes referred to as network architects, network engineers are accountable for formulating, implementing and executing the whole computer networks of an organization.

The ideal role of a network engineer is to make sure all the systems are functioning properly as intended. The fundamental goal of a network engineer 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 across countries who take care of technological advancements throughout the firm. This proves cost-effective for the organization while also meeting needs for both user and business.

A network engineer is a technology expert who has the necessary skills to plan, implement and oversee the computer networks that support in-house voice, data, videos and wireless network services. The virtualized network poses challenges to network management systems and as more hardware components are tending to virtualized, that challenge becomes even greater. Very often people are confused with network engineer and network administrator; at times, they use it interchangeably. However, a networking engineer usually has more executive responsibilities than a network administrator does. The engineering side of things tends to deal more with planning, design and technical specifications, whereas the administration side of things deals mostly with day-to-day maintenance, management and troubleshooting efforts. Computer network engineers has computer science as a common major. Network engineers focus on delivering high-availability network infrastructure to sustain the online and on-site information technology activities of users. In addition to technical skills, network engineers need analytical skills, leadership skills and organizational skills. Network engineer salary range from $46,500 to more than $115,000 annually, depending upon skills and experience. The first and most direct way to get a job working as a network engineer is to do some self-study and get a vendor certification like a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Top five Networking Certifications are CCIE, CCNP, JNCIE-ENT, CompTIA Network+, and WCNA

What Is a Network Engineer? An Informative Guide

The field of network engineering remains one of the top technology fields in today’s job market. As a person in this area of expertise can attest, even within network engineering a wide variety of positions exist, providing plenty of opportunity for growth, transition and increased challenges within the field. Below is an informative guide to help you understand more about this promising career.

Key Responsibilities of a Network Engineer

  • 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 the systems and monitor the system performance.

Demand for Network Engineer Jobs

In this digital world, as technology has grown the demand for network engineers is huge and there are plenty of network engineer jobs available in the marketplace where companies looking for the skilled, talented and certified professionals who can work with their specific project needs. Depending on the company and the project, the network engineer job role varies. The network engineers can search the jobs and apply until network engineer job description that fits your profile.

Network Engineer Job Description

The network engineer job description varies with company’s requirement. Skills and experience typically required for these network engineer jobs. They are different types and positions are in these jobs like network technician, network analyst, wireless network engineer, network security engineer, network administrator, network manager, etc. Each has different job description and engineers who want to apply for these job roles should have special skills and qualifications.

Network Engineer Salary Growth

It’s no surprise given the demand for network engineers, the network engineer salary varies with different factors like a company, job role, job difficulty, experience, and location. The starting network engineer salary goes around $47K to $58K whereas median goes around $59K to $71K per annum and highest network engineer salary goes around $86K.

Network Engineer versus Network Administrator

People often confuse the terms network engineer and network administrator by using them interchangeably. Since both of the 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, for a network administrator, many organizations prefer a degree and additional certifications in programs such as Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft, and Red Hat etc . . .

Starting Career in Networking:

Career in Networking

Before you get into computer networking industry, you should know what area you want to specialize in. Networking alone is huge thing. There are many specialties you can concentrate in. Just to give you a few ideas, you can have practical experience in 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. You should opt what interests you to guarantee that you don’t burn out.

Network Engineer can certainly be self-taught. You can begin with a CCNA Home Lab, for instance, for a couple of hundred bucks. However, if you are just beginning you may look into professional schools, colleges, or online training that offer a specialization in networking. You can likewise get the standard education as an undergrad in Computer Science or Computer Engineering. Whichever education choice you pick, simply ensure the organization has the correct classes that help you learn the trade.

Available types of positions and networking jobs

Network Specialist

Network Specialist

Daily activity of a network specialist consists of overseeing groups of PCs that work with each other and guaranteeing that customers have the right networks based on their business needs. A network specialist is in charge of ensuring that the network works effectively. This may include collecting information on the network’s performance, keeping up network security and fixing issues as they emerge. Every once in a while, a network specialist may need to remove and install software and hardware as well as be in charge of training new network users and providing security authorizations.

Network Technician

Network Technician

Network technicians monitor the everyday operations of an organization’s computer network. 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 techniciansin this field help tackle PC issues and determine the best strategy to meet an organization’s technological needs.

Network Administrator

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. (That is a lot of openings for work!)
This position can be wide open or quite limited depending upon the company and how complex its networks are. But in general, a network administrator is in charge of the following tasks:

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

Network Analyst

Network Analyst

A network analyst is responsible for the installation and maintenance of a network within an organization. Many network analysts find that they turn out to be very associated with both the business side and technical side of an organization. This means it can be important to identify issues inside the business and then identify a technical solution. A network analyst is required to design, plan, analyse and provide technical help for a data communications network or group of networks in the organization. Work can also incorporate research and assessment of network technology.
This position is also common in large retail companies and government and financial institutions, for example. On the other hand, frequent job openings are available in IT organizations that have some expertise in troubleshooting projects.

Network Manager

Network Manager

As a network manager, a person has a two part role. One is to be responsible for installing and maintaining the organization’s computer networks, and also to prepare 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 ending up progressively dependent on technology, this is an especially key component to the smooth running of the business. Also, depending upon the size of the company a network manager may have more than one sort of network to oversee.

A second major role is to develop new systems to help with development of the organization. Network managers are vital members of an IT group alongside project managers, network engineers and support staff. A person in this position could likewise be requested to attend meetings to discuss the IT needs of the business from an operational or service related perspective.

Network Engineer

Network engineers work with an organization’s computer network, utilizing information technology to make network systems for all representatives to utilize. 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 association, and the organization may have one committed specialist or many all-inclusive associated engineers cooperating with the chief technology officer.

Levels of network security

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

Network Solutions Architect

The 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 the 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 include:

Network Security Specialist

A network security analyst provides support to the computer networks by detecting, preventing, and resolving threats to the computer 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, ability to troubleshoot and effective communication skills, both verbally and in writing.


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 be able to communicate in both technical and non-technical language. Working in an individual and group capacity could also be required. A networking research & 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. A person holding this position is comfortable managing and supporting wireless infrastructure including HSPA voice core, VoLTE/IMS, VoWiFi, Enhanced Packet Core, SS7 and diameter networks, network translations and trunking, CDMA. Also, this person ensures that the wireless core network provides high availability service and best voice and data experience for customers. A wireless infrastructure and mobility specialist also delivers new services and projects flawlessly and with agility to support the business and its customers.

Mobility Solutions Architect

A mobility solutions architect is expected to collaborate with business, developers and fellow architects in order to provide mobility solutions to the businesses 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

The job role of a VOIP Engineer is to plan, design and implement the voice infrastructure and propose 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 engineer 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 clear understanding of telecom business scenario.

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 do technical installation and complex design of network equipment that includes routers, switches and other devices which are common in data center.

Certifications to advance your networking career:

Network Engineer Certification

Alcatel-Lucent Certifications

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

Aruba Networks Certifications

  • Aruba Certified Solutions Professional (ACSP)
  • Aruba Certified Mobility Associate (ACMA)
  • Aruba Certified Mobility Professional (ACMP)

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 Expert One 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)

In conclusion, a network engineer has many options in today’s work environment. Finding employment opportunities using an on-demand marketplace such as FieldEngineer (FE) can be a helpful way to grow a career in this promising field.


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