Network engineering is one of the most popular career paths in I.T. – in fact, the field is predicted to grow by 6.5% over the next 10 years. At a time when other sectors are shrinking, working as a network engineer can bring great opportunities for your career as an I.T. professional.
However, if you’re reading this, you might be scratching your head and wondering what a network engineer actually does. In this week’s blog, we’ll go over some common questions about this exciting career path – and if you’re already keen to get started in your network engineering journey, visit our website here to find out more about our network engineering course!
What is network engineering?
Network engineers are responsible for the set-up and maintenance of an organisation’s computer networks. These could include phone systems, intranet, extranet and more. The overall objective of a network engineer is to ensure that an organisation’s network infrastructure can provide the best possible performance for its users – this can include other staff, clients, customers and suppliers.
A network engineer’s day-to-day responsibilities might include:
- Maintaining organisational networks and all associated systems, including all software, hardware and applications.
- Maintaining firewalls, updating virus protection software, implementing data security systems and performing data backups to protect important information.
- Installing and configuring network equipment such as routers, switches, load balancers, VPNs, WAN accelerators and proxy servers.
- Performing ongoing monitoring and troubleshooting to find innovative ways to improve network performance.
- Conducting regular maintenance tasks such as scheduling updates, performing network upgrades, managing security configurations and installing patches or service packs.
- Collaborating with third-party support services and service providers to ensure networks are operating at their best.
- Liaising with project management teams, third-line engineers and service desk engineers on a regular basis.
What is the average salary of a network engineer?
According to Prospects, entry-level network engineer positions pay an average annual salary of between £19,000 and £20,000. As you gain experience, you can expect to earn between £35,000 to over £55,000. Senior network engineers tend to earn from £50,000 to £70,000 a year. Self-employment and freelance work is also possible with experience; contract workers can have varied rates in salary, ranging from £175 to £500 per day.
Salaries depend on several factors, such as the size of the organisation, the value of its IT infrastructure, and the scope of its network systems – for example, a network engineer for a multinational corporation tends to earn more than a network engineer for a small, local business. Network engineers can also enjoy additional benefits such as health insurance and a bonus scheme, depending on the company.
What qualifications and skills do I need for a career in network engineering?
Network engineers need to have a specialised skill set and strong knowledge to be successful in their role. In most cases, you will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related subject such as computer science or physics. However, having a strong level of experience in the area is just as valuable. Additionally, for those wanting to explore another education route, there are many apprenticeship opportunities available to help you gain these academic qualifications.
Employers will also expect you to have (or be willing to train for) professional qualifications from industry leading bodies such as Cisco and CompTIA. Having these additional certifications is a great way to bolster your job applications and demonstrate that you have the necessary technical knowledge for the industry. Some of the most valuable certifications include:
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- CompTIA Network+
The I.T. world is always changing with new developments, so network engineers should always be looking out for the latest updates and following online courses and training to help supplement their existing knowledge.
Some other important skills to have as a network engineer include:
- Current knowledge and understanding of your employer’s business and industry needs, as well as any technical demands.
- Strong customer service skills to best meet the needs of the end user.
- Excellent communication skills, particularly the ability to communicate with staff who aren’t technically trained.
- An ability to multitask while being able to pay attention to detail.
- Analytical and problem-solving ability, especially under pressure.
- Teamwork skills and confidence when working with different teams, clients and groups of staff across an organisation.
- Organisational skills and the ability to prioritise your workload.
Get started in network engineering with IT Career Swap
Our specialist network engineering course will set you up with all the knowledge you need to succeed in this exciting industry, including certifications from CompTIA and Cisco. Click here to find out more, or call us today on 0203 982 7573 to speak with a member of the IT Career Swap team!