Any enterprise must be able to support network systems when the company uses technology for business processes. Email, sharing documentation and even just accessing the Internet requires a network engineer. Because network engineering is becoming more of a requirement rather than “nice to have,” the industry offers competitive salaries for people who manage these critical systems.

What Does a Network Engineer Do?

Before moving forward it should be noted that the term “network engineer” encompasses a myriad of job functions and requirements. Most big enterprises need one or several engineers to manage networking functionality. Your job description could be anywhere from networking support to complete redesign of corporate systems. You might even have collocated cloud servers and work with ISP engineers to develop a hybrid cloud scenario.

Network engineering has several levels of complexity and responsibility. When you first start out, you might be assigned basic tasks like handling desktop users and configurations. You identify desktop issues, help configure devices (desktops and mobile), and learn the basics of networking through trial and error. You also need to know multiple operating systems. A network engineer must know mobile operating systems as well as Linux, Windows, and even Unix (for older platforms). You’ll be exposed to numerous old and new technologies as an engineer, so if you enjoy learning new platforms, you’ll enjoy network engineering.

At more advanced levels, you’ll need to know more about TCP/IP, networking equipment (switches, routers, cabling), security, firewalls, and the way the cloud communicates with other cloud servers. You’ll also be responsible for more troubleshooting and managing critical systems across various networks and platforms.

One aspect of all IT job descriptions is problem solving. You’ll need to have good problem solving skills in both the workplace and for interviews. Most companies ask you open-ended engineering questions in a scenario form. For instance, a company might ask you what you would do if one of its web servers crashed. You are given a scenario where there could be 1, 10 or 1000s of users affected. The company might set up a sample scenario where you are then asked to tell them what steps you would take to accomplish troubleshooting the network and its servers. Usually, these questions have multiple ways you can approach a result. The interviewer wants to see how you think and how you operate. These scenarios can be answered with some studying and experience.

Prerequisites: How Do I Get Into the Network Engineering Field?

If you’re a problem solver and want to have a career that keeps up with the latest technology, network engineering is for you. The industry moves at a rapid pace, and it’s a competitive area for people new to the field.

The best way to get some hands-on experience and practice is with certifications. The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is a good start. The CCNA is just one of the several Cisco career certifications that can give you a boost in the field. The CCNA is the starting point for routing and switching and configurations and desktop troubleshooting. If you are interested in learning more about what’s involved in the CCNA certification, fill out the form below for a course syllabus and pricing information.

CCNA Resources Salary

Of course, experience helps as well. You can get some basic experience in your home. Even your wireless home network with a couple of computers connected and sharing files is a basic way to get started in the network engineering field.

Network Engineering Salaries

Most people who put effort into certifications and experience want some type of return for their investment. Network engineering salaries have a wide range, but you can make a good living in the industry.  As you can see from the image below, the median income for a Network Engineer is $82,000/yr.

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Your pay grade increases as you improve performance, knowledge and experience.

Whether you want to work in server administration, desktop support or even software development, you’ll probably get involved with network topics. You can even just add to existing knowledge in other fields by learning network engineering through certifications or on-the-job experience. The network engineering field will stick around as long as people need Internet access and shared file systems, so this career path isn’t going away any time soon.