WiFi Network Engineer
Wi-Fi Network Engineers design, implement, maintain, and resolve issues of an organization’s wireless LAN and other emerging wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, WAP, and WiMax. They are also responsible for supporting Wi-Fi hardware and software when required to improve them to the satisfaction of the client’s business requirements.
Wireless networks are being increasingly preferred because they do not need cables to connect digital devices. One of the major reasons for adopting them is they offer portability and can be moved anywhere.
With a wireless LAN (WLAN), wireless network communication is provided over short distances, without using Ethernet cables. Here, data is transferred using either IEEE 802.11 or infrared or radio signals. Other advantages of using WLAN is it supports several devices and does not need cables.
Because they have to partner with the other members of the network team and clients, they must have strong written and spoken communication skills. Engineers need to be comfortable working within a team and should have good customer service skills.
They should be able to work calmly in high-pressure situations. Field engineers need to have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills.
The job of these engineers includes planning, designing, implementing, and testing of all aspects of wireless networks. For this, they need to understand in detail the network topologies and communication protocols, the various wireless devices, and switching products. Besides, they are expected to suggest recommendations for improving network infrastructure to meet changing business requirements.
Engineers should generate and maintain documentation concerning network mapping, network configuration and processes, and so on. They monitor new, as well as existing equipment, hardware, and upgrades of software.
It is mandatory for engineers to keep themselves in touch with the latest products, services, standards, protocols, and developments of the networking industry. They need to coordinate with vendors and resellers to purchase network products and services.
They are also responsible for creating documentation for best practices of wireless LANs, securing infrastructure of the network by deploying firewall and anti-virus software, analyzing network performance of mobile applications, verifying the performance, the quality of radio frequency (RF), and devising plans for optimizing the wireless network, among others.
Engineers should be able to manage and monitor voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) devices and fix them whenever there are issues. They should also resolve hardware problems.
Engineers use troubleshooting tools for networks, such as monitoring devices, log files, customer input, and network packet captures in a bid to resolve issues effectively. They should be able to handle testing tools and procedures competently for data and voice circuits. They should research into networking products and issues whenever required.
Engineers should be aware of relevant data privacy laws and practices. Moreover, they should have knowledge of enterprise routing protocols, such as BGP, OSPF, and EIGRPP and so on.
Professionals should work as per their organization/clients’ aims and objectives. They should be adept in the best practices of network management, network capacity planning, and network security principles.
Future for Wireless Network Engineers
The role of network engineers will transform radically in the near future, as they should embrace programming, security systems, and storage, in addition to conventional networking skills. By the beginning of the next decade, they should also have gained skills in LTE and Mobile WiMAX.
After reaching a plateau in their career, freelance Wireless Network Engineers could opt to specialize as Network Security Specialists, Data Center Networking Specialists, Networking Research and Development Specialists, Cloud Networking Architects, Wireless Networking QA Engineers, and Mobility Solutions Architect, among others.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for network engineers are expected to increase six percent during 2016-2026, more than the average for all occupations.
To become a Wireless Network Engineer, a candidate requires to have at least a bachelors' degree in engineering, information systems, and computer science or any other related disciplines.
They require certifications, such as Certified Wireless Network Professional (CNWP), Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) or Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE) or Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) or Aruba Certified ClearPass Professional (ACCP) to be abreast of the latest in wireless networking.
They should have certification in Certified Wireless Network Professional or Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) wireless. Engineers should have extensive knowledge of 802.11a, 802.11n, and WLAN site surveys.
They should have experience in programming languages, such as Perl, Python or Bash.
The average annual salary of a Wireless Network Engineer is $66,825 per year, or $24.78 per hour, in the United States, as per Payscale.
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