Principal Network Engineer

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What is a Principal Network Engineer? Job Description and Salary

If you’re considering a career as a network engineer, you’ll certainly want to learn more about what a principal network engineer is and does. As one of the highest positions in your chosen field, securing a role as a principal network engineer could be the pinnacle of your career and a sign of your success.

What is a Principal Network Engineer?

A principal network engineer takes on full responsibility and accountability for network design, creation, installation, and maintenance. Usually managing a team of network engineers, the principal network engineer is tasked with identifying the client’s infrastructure needs and designing a network that meets – or exceeds – their requirements.

Being a principal network engineer is a managerial role, so there are additional tasks that you’ll need to take on. You may be required to train other network engineers, for example, present your findings and proposals to clients or shareholders and author reports detailing how projects were undertaken.

How to Become a Principal Network Engineer?

Becoming a principal network engineer can take some time. Most successful principal network engineers begin their careers by completing a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Following this, you may be able to secure a role as a network engineer or gain alternative experience in the IT industry.

As you gain professional and practical experience, your skills will develop, and you may be promoted through the ranks. With enough experience, you can begin taking on more responsibility and being the lead developer on certain aspects of network builds, for example. This supervisory experience will stand you in good stead if you plan on becoming a principal network engineer, as it will show that you have managerial experience.

Once you have the technical, practical, and managerial skills required, you’ll be ready to apply for roles as a principal network engineer. However, this isn’t a role that you have to do in-house. By launching your career as a freelance principal network engineer, you can make your role as flexible, interesting, and exciting as you choose.

At Field Engineer, we understand the importance of being able to create a bespoke career that complements your lifestyle. We connect experienced IT professionals, such as principal network engineers, with potential clients. To learn more, sign up with Field Engineer and take a look at the wide range of projects currently available.

Principal Network Engineer Job Description

When you’re looking for principal network engineer jobs, you’ll notice that the job descriptions do vary somewhat. The exact nature of your role will depend on the needs of the employer or client but, in general, your role will involve taking on responsibility for the creation, implementation, and maintenance of networks.

Roles and Responsibilities of Principal Network Engineers?

The typical roles and responsibilities of principal network engineers include:

  • Designing and planning new networks
  • Identifying client or employer needs
  • Presenting proposals to clients, shareholders, and directors
  • Training and mentoring network engineers
  • Maintaining existing networks
  • Troubleshooting issues as they arise
  • Enhancing existing infrastructure
  • Ensuring compliance with relevant regulations
  • Maintain network security measures, such as firewalls
  • Define network access rights
  • Develop and implement standard operating procedures
  • Recommend new technologies to enhance performance
  • Prepare budgets, timelines, and workflows
  • Author system configuration documents for on-going reference
Network Engineer?

Principal Network Engineer Salary

Principal network engineering requires significant technical and professional experience, which should be reflected in your remuneration package. The average salary for a principal network engineer job role in the USA ranges from $158,896 to $166,500, although you can earn substantially more than this.


How long does it take to become a principal network engineer?

Most principal network engineers spend at least 5-10 years gaining experience as a network engineer, lead network engineer, or supervising network engineer before securing a role a principal network engineer.

Is it easy to find principal network engineering jobs?

Organizations are becoming increasingly reliant on IT systems and networks, which means the industry is continuing to grow. Due to this, there is significant demand for principal network engineers, and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Can you earn more as a freelance principal network engineer?

When you operate as a freelancer or subcontractor, you’re free to set your own rates and decline projects that don’t interest you or don’t offer sufficient remuneration. Many people find they can earn more than the average salary by working in this way. Of course, being a freelancer does mean that you miss out on the job security of an in-house position but the added benefit of being your own boss typically attracts confident, motivated and successful engineers to the role.

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