Network Engineer Jobs

What is a network engineer? 

Network engineers’ main role is to build, upgrade, and expand digital infrastructures. In this increasingly digital world, network engineers are critical to the digital endeavors of modern companies.

Although the demand for network engineering roles is rising, there’s a shortage of qualified professionals on the job market.

So, it all sounds pretty good, right?

But where are you supposed to start from? And anyway, what does a network engineer even do?

Let’s take a closer look at network engineer jobs.

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Network Engineering Statistics (Editor’s Pick):

  • The demand for network engineers is expected to increase by 5% from 2018 to 2028.
  • Network engineers earn a median wage of $109,020 annually.
  • The Dover-Durham metropolitan area is the highest-paying city in America, where network engineers earn roughly $166,860 per year.
  • California is the highest-paying state for this occupation. For a network engineer in California, salary averages $127,500 per year. 
  • The highest-paying industry for this field is the Nonresidential Building Construction industry, where network engineers earn $68.31 per hour or $142,090 per year.
  • In 2018, the bottom 10% in this field earned an average of $60,310 per year, while the top 10% made $164,280.
  • Of all industries, Telecommunications saw the highest concentration of employment for network engineering roles, with 2.30% industry employment.
  • The New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area has the highest employment level for network engineering occupations, with 10,370 roles filled in 2018.

Networking Job Descriptions

TitleResponsibilitiesRequirementsAverage annual salary
Network engineer
  • Designing and building computer networks
  • Troubleshooting issues to optimize network performance
  • Upgrading  hardware and data servers
  • Collaborating with service desk engineers and project managers
  • BS in CR or other related fields
  • 5–10 years of experience
  • $109,020 per year
Wireless network engineers
  • Designing and building wireless networks
  • Upgrading wireless networks to meet the demands of the business
  • Performing radio frequency site surveys
  • A bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or other related fields
  • 5-10 years of experience in LAN/WAN engineering
  • $75,921 per year

For Beginners 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field is one of the most common entry-level network engineer job requirements. Such programs often span four years, covering computer fundamentals, computer servicing, as well as management principles. Network engineering classes such as network design, infrastructure, and communications are usually included in these programs as well.

When you enroll in these programs, you can gain hands-on experience in the field through an internship. There, you can also experience first-hand the team dynamic in an IT department.

There’s no doubt about it – having a technical background will get your foot in the door. However, employers might require certifications and years of experience for higher positions.

Here are some of those network certifications:

  • CompTIA A+ Certification
  • CompTIA Network+ Certification
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional
  • Wireshark Certified Network Analyst

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Network Engineer: Job Description

Disclaimer: This is a general job description for this position. Every employer will have different criteria for hiring.

Network Engineering

Network engineers are responsible for designing and building communication networks used by all kinds of corporations. They maintain and optimize these computer systems by diagnosing, troubleshooting, and resolving issues. Not only that, network engineers secure these computer systems by setting up and implementing policies. And if needed, they can perform backups and carry out disaster recovery operations.

Daily activities

What does a network engineer do?

The duties of network engineers vary on a day-to-day basis. Although their tasks may overlap with that of network administrators, their role entails more decision-making. 

 

  • Maintaining the network: Network engineers design and implement network solutions for companies or for outside clients. They are also responsible for maintaining the network, as well as software, hardware, programs, and configurations.
  • Upgrading solutions: Aside from designing computer networks, engineers must upgrade solutions to enhance operations. They must also improve the security of these infrastructures. 

 

One quick search of “network engineer jobs near me” will show that engineers often collaborate with colleagues within the IT department, as well as outside of it. They work together to replace defective hardware, schedule upgrades, and select new solutions.

 

  • Assessing faults in the network: If employees encounter any issues with the network, it’s the engineer’s job to gather data, assess it, and fix any issues. 
  • Monitoring network performance: Network engineers are responsible for monitoring the network’s performance and reporting it to executives. Whenever needed, they will apply ideal changes that will bring the company closer to its objectives.
  • Securing the network: To keep the network safe from potential threats, engineers must establish ideal policies, including overseas access. They define, document, and deploy effective system standards. Then, they must see to it that their policies are implemented in the workplace. 

 

Key areas of expertise

If you want to apply for network engineer positions, you ought to have extensive knowledge of different network types. Those include local area networks, wide area networks, wireless local area networks, and metropolitan area networks. 

Whether you work internally for your employer’s IT department or externally for your company’s client, you should have a strong understanding of the organization’s business demands. This enables you to design network infrastructures and solutions that meet their every need.

Salary Breakdown of Network Engineers

How much does a network engineer make?

As of May 2018, the median pay for network engineering occupations was $109,020 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bottom 10% made no more than $60,310. The top 10% earned over $164,280 per year. 

The data also shows that the Nonresidential Building Construction industry is the top paying industry for network engineering occupations. Engineers working in that field earn an annual mean wage of $142,090.

Entry-level network engineers: According to Payscale, network engineers with less than a year of experience make about $57,291 annually. 

Junior network engineers: As of November 26, 2019, junior network engineer jobs in the US had an average salary of $63,062 per year. The data is based on 110 salaries submitted to Indeed, as well as job advertisements in the last 36 months. In the US, junior network engineering occupations have an average tenure of one year.

Senior network engineers: According to Indeed, senior network engineers make an average salary of $106,461 per year. This was last updated on December 9, 2019 and based on 1,983 salaries in the past 36 months. 

Freelance network engineers: Remote network engineer jobs have an average salary of $95,048, according to Paysa. The lowest 25% earn around $71,985 per year, while the top 10% earn over $137,510 per year.

Freelance 

Is it possible to work freelance in the field of network engineering?

Yes!

Most network engineers are employed in-house as it makes their job more efficient. However, there’s a growing number of network engineers in the gig economy. Even though working in-house seems more convenient, freelancing does offer benefits to employers and employees. 

Some of those who work freelance network engineering jobs in the USA do it to earn a side income. Others do freelance gigs while searching for full-time employment.

The gig economy is on the rise as it gives employers many advantages, including reduced operational costs. But don’t worry—network engineers who work freelance can also enjoy some perks that in-house workers can’t experience.

Here are the advantages of working freelance:

  • Unlimited earning potential
  • Flexibility
  • Opportunities for growth
  • Multi-faceted exposure
  • Remote work

Management position possibility

A bachelor’s degree in computer science and other related fields can help you land entry-level network engineer positions in the USA. As businesses invest more in cloud computing, virtualization, and SD-WAN, you must expand your skills beyond routing and switching. 

So what do you do to advance your career after a few years in the field?

You can go for a graduate degree. Employers want to hire network engineers with a master’s degree for management roles such as project managers, IT directors, and chief technology officers. 

Having a graduate degree in Business Administration, focused on information systems is a plus. Gaining new skills in network security, storage, and programming would also improve your chances of becoming a computer and information systems manager or a chief information operator.

Network Engineer Jobs Salary in the US

What are the highest-paying states for network engineering?

California, Texas, Florida, Virginia, and New York have the five highest employment rates for this profession, according to a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Among networking jobs in the US, salary for network engineers in the state of California is the highest. It’s joined by Delaware, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.

Meanwhile, the top-paying metropolitan area was Dover-Durham New Hampshire-Maine. Professionals there averaged $166,860 annually.

California salary: In 2018, the network engineer California salary averaged $127,500 annually. That means network engineering positions earned an hourly wage of $61.30.

Delaware salary: Earning an average annual wage of $126,990, Delaware was the second highest-paying state in 2018. Network engineers made roughly $61.05 per hour.

New Jersey salary: In New Jersey, professionals in this occupation were also among the top-paid in the country, earning an hourly wage of $59.77. They made about $124,310 per year.

New Hampshire salary: Employment rates in New Hampshire might not be as high as California or New Jersey. However, the average network engineer in the state is well-paid, making around $59.29 per hour. That put their annual salary roughly at $123,310.

District of Columbia: Network engineers in the District of Columbia earn around $123,200 per year. That means they earn $59.23 per hour. 

Freelance

If you look up “network engineer jobs near me,” you’ll find that a number of professionals in the field work freelance. Although most network engineers have a standard 9-to-5 job at the office, some have chosen to break free from the traditional workplace to join the gig economy.

Here are some of the reasons why network engineers opt to go freelance:

 

  • Limitless earning potential: As a freelance worker, you gain limitless access to companies from all industries. In turn, you can increase your earning potential and make more than what you used to earn in your 9-to-5 job.
  • FlexibilityFreelancing gives you more options. Simply put, you can choose the jobs based on what interests you and what can benefit you financially or career-wise. 
  • Opportunities for growth: Compared to any full-time job, you have the freedom to steer your career forward without any restrictions. You won’t have to hone skills for the sole purpose of fitting the role that an employer wants you to fill. Instead, you can decide what certifications you want to take or what educational programs you want to sign up to. You can progress in your own terms, whether you want to become a computer and information systems manager or a chief information operator.
  • Multi-faceted exposure: As a freelancer, you will work with different companies, digital infrastructures, vendors, programs, and business needs. Simply put, freelancing exposes you to different domains. As you encounter different network issues, you’ll be challenged to come up with the appropriate solutions every time, further honing your analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Remote work: Network engineers can pursue other passion projects, wherever they may be. Whether it’s from an office or a beach at Cabo, you can perform your job anywhere with a stable internet connection.

 

 

Education 

Working in network engineering for a couple of years won’t guarantee you a well-paid role in your company. To advance to higher-paying positions, you will have to validate your expertise.

Aside from a bachelor’s degree, certifications are some of the most common network engineer education requirements.

Here are some of the certifications worth investing in: 

 

  • CompTIA A+ Certification: This entry-level certification proves your ability to maintain, install, customize, and operate personal computers. Although it barely scratches the surface of the responsibilities of network engineers, it’s a great foundation for any IT occupation. Plus, it leads to more opportunities for advance networking certifications.

 

To earn a CompTIA A+ certification, you need to pass two exams. It has no prerequisites, however, nine to twelve months of experience is ideal.

 

  • CompTIA Network+ Certification: If you’re hoping to build an impressive resume for an entry-level network engineer job, you can start with the CompTIA Network+ exam. This vendor-neutral certification can open more opportunities for professional networking certifications. 

 

A CompTIA Network+ certification requires a 90-item exam, which you will answer for 90 minutes. There are no prerequisites for this entry-level certification.

 

  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert: This Cisco credential may require a bit of work and investment. However, it’s worth your effort as it paves the way for new opportunities and limitless income potential. It entails a written exam, consisting of 90 to 110. Once you pass, you can take a lab exam within the next 18 months.

 

The written exam costs $450, while the lab test costs $1,600. There are no prerequisites for the written exam.

 

  • Cisco Certified Network Professional: Another Cisco certification that can advance your career is the CCNP. For Routing and Switching certifications, you need to pass three exams. Once you earn this certification, you gain access to hone further skills and gain specializations within the CCNP path. 

 

The CCNP written exam costs $300. To become a Cisco network engineer with a CCNP certification, you need to earn a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or CCIE certification first.

 

  • Wireshark Certified Network Analyst: A WCNA certification proves your knowledge and expertise of network analysis, security, troubleshooting, as well as TCP/IP communications. It requires a single 100-item multiple-choice exam. If you pass the exam, your certificate will be valid for three years. However, to maintain it, you’ll have to earn 20 professional education credits annually.

 

The WCNA exam costs $299. There are no prerequisites for the WCNA certification. 

Other than these, you may want to earn product and vendor-neutral certifications to prove your knowledge and skills of the fundamentals in network engineering such. Those kills include management, planning, and troubleshooting. 

 

Technical Skills

What technical and specialized skills are important in different engineer jobs?

 

  • Strong understanding of various network types: Network engineers have to work with all kinds of network infrastructures—local area network, wide area network, global area network, metropolitan area network, intranets, extranets, and so on. Having a strong understanding of various network types should enable you to do your job more efficiently.
  • Troubleshooting skills: Network engineers have to optimize the performance of computer networks. That entails troubleshooting any network issues that may affect the servers, security, and routing. 
  • Business acumen: Aside from having a strong understanding of network infrastructures, engineers must know their employer’s fundamental business processes. They must understand their company’s technical demands. This helps engineers establish a connection between network management and the company’s goals.
  • Extensive knowledge of network protocols: Good network engineers have extensive knowledge of different network protocols — Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, DNS, DHCP.

 

 

Non-Technical Skills

What soft skills are important for network engineer jobs?

 

  • Analytical Skills: Network engineers must have excellent analytical skills to assess complicated network systems.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills: Network engineers work with all staff levels outside of the IT department, including business leaders. That means having the ability to communicate network conflicts, issues, and solutions to employees who aren’t as tech-savvy is imperative. 
  • Problem-solving skills: New network problems can pop up at any time. To optimize the network’s performance, you must have the ability to explore, gather, and visualize solutions based on the information you have. 
  • Adaptability: The world is changing rapidly, fueled by breakthrough technologies and solutions. To stay relevant, you must evolve along with the programs and technologies involved in network infrastructures. You should also be willing to pursue new skills to keep up with the changing landscape of business.

 

 

In Conclusion

With all this information, you might ask yourself: 

What is the demand for network engineers? 

The need for this profession is likely to increase, with employment expected to rise by 5%, from 2018 to 2028. Due to this growing demand, this line of work offers long-term growth and high-earning power. Much like other professions, there is a caveat. Network engineers must stay up-to-date on burgeoning technologies and emerging trends to stay relevant in this field. Simply put, you must make training a regular part of career development.

In the coming year, you may want to take a moment to determine where you are in your career and plan where you’re headed. Pay attention to the trends in network engineer jobs to figure out how to best fit into this evolving landscape. 

We hope that now you feel more prepared to take the first steps to become a network engineer. 

Wishing you good luck on your path! 

Hopefully, we’ll see you on Leftronic.com soon.

FAQs

Q: What does a network engineer do?

A: Network engineers design and build functional digital infrastructures that all employees can use. They monitor and maintain their performance to optimize business operations. They also keep it secure from potential cybersecurity threats. Their responsibilities entail selecting the ideal hardware to support the network and determining its security needs. 

Q: What qualifications do you need to be a network engineer?

A: Employers require applicants to have a strong technical background. For entry-level network engineer jobs, a bachelor’s degree in computer science and other related fields is a common requirement.

To advance your career, you must have five to ten years of experience, as well as the right certifications. A graduate degree is also ideal if you want to apply for senior management positions. 

Q: Do network engineers need to know programming?

A: Not all network engineer roles require programming skills; nonetheless, it’s a valuable skill to have. Especially now, when more and more employers are looking for highly-qualified professionals in their IT team. 

Being proficient in network programming languages such as C, C++, and Java is advantageous in a network engineer job. They enable engineers to save time and resources through automation, maximize productivity, and increase demand in the job market.

Q: Which certification is best for networking?

A: You can start with entry-level certifications such as the CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, or Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert. Aside from having no prerequisites, these certifications are your ticket for more advanced networking certifications. 

Once you’ve earned these certifications, you often have to maintain them by taking annual exams. From there, you can go for advanced certifications such as the CCNP certification. If you look up “senior network engineer jobs near me,” the CCNP is the one typically required.

Q: Can I become a network engineer without a degree?

A: Yes—you can. However, this largely depends on the company you’re applying for. Most organizations will require you to have a degree, while some won’t as long as you have an excellent technical background.

It’s important to take note that having a degree in computer science and other related fields is ideal if you’re looking to land network engineering jobs. At the same time, it gives you a better chance of standing out in a saturated job market.