Career Insights: What Does a Network Engineer Do?

09.11.2018

In this edition of our Career Insights series, we’re taking a look at the role of a network engineer and discussing what exactly they do, the skills required, and the average salary an experienced network engineer can expect to make.

Responsibilities & Tasks Skills Certifications Salary Freelance market Job description template

 

What’s the role of a network engineer?



Network engineers are responsible for the delivery and maintenance of computer networks within an organization. Essentially, network engineers are responsible for ensuring their clients can get online simply, securely, and reliably. They’re focused on providing a stable network and maintaining servers for a consistent connection. 

Typical duties for a network engineer can include implementing network solutions, troubleshooting performance issues, configuring security systems, and maintaining the network infrastructure for maximum performance for clients. 


Related job titles:

  • Support engineer
  • Helpdesk support
  • Cisco engineer
  • VoIP engineer
  • 1st / 2nd support

 

Responsibilities

Some of the key responsibilities of a network engineer include: 

  • Troubleshooting network problems to maximize network performance
  • Administering firewalls and maintaining IT security systems
  • Router configuration
  • Upgrading data servers and network equipment
  • IP address auditing
  • Liaising with project managers and service desk engineers


Working hours:

Traditionally, you will work Monday until Friday on standard working hours. But you will need to be available at weekends or outside business hours if technical problems arise.

 

Hire a Network Engineer for your project or company.   Freelance Network engineers available

 

Qualifications and skills required

Many network engineers will have an IT-related background, with degrees in one of the following fields:

  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Systems Engineering
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Physics

Larger companies will often have graduate schemes where they recruit graduates straight into their IT teams to offer on-the-job experience and training. However, employers may also accept candidates who have a lot of experience even if they do not have a degree.


Skills required


Technical Skills

The role of a network engineer is always varied, so it is difficult to pinpoint the exact technical skills you will need to perform well in this role. 

A good network engineer needs to be able to:

  • Plan, implement, and monitor computer networks
  • Understand the technical demands of their employer’s business
  • A comprehensive knowledge of network protocols and services such as TCP/IP, DNS, and DHCP
  • Troubleshooting skills of network functions such as security, servers, and routing


Soft Skills

In addition to the technical skills and knowledge required of a network engineer, there are a number of soft skills that will come in very useful in this career. These include 

  • Problem-solving
  • The ability to communicate information to the relevant parties - network engineers often report to business leaders, so the ability to communicate information clearly, confidently, and professionally is essential
  • Flexibility - network engineers often work out-of-hours so as not to interrupt the work schedule of employees who need to be online at regular hours
  • The ability to multi-task numerous projects throughout the day with excellent organization
  • Being able to collaborate with other members of staff and work as a team to achieve company goals

 

Career development: Certifications

There are a number additional certifications engineers can do to further their expertise in this filed. Probably amongst the most popular are Cisco certifications and its engineering program, which offers five different certifications to provide further training.


These are a few Cisco network certifications:

  • Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) - Entry
  • Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) - Entry
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA Routing and Switching) - Professional
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional Level (CCNP) – Professional
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert Routing and Switching (CCIE Routing and Switching) - Expert
  • Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) - Expert


Other certifications are available from organizations to advance your career in networking include:

  • Juniper Networks:
    • Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Enterprise Switching and Routing (JNCIS ENT)
    • Juniper Networks Certified Professional Enterprise Switching and Routing (JNCIP ENT)
    • Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Wireless LAN (JNCIS WLAN)
  • Oracle: Oracle Certified Expert (OCE)
  • Microsoft:
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise:
    • HP Accredited Integration Specialist (HP AIS)
    • HP Accredited Solutions Expert (HP ASE)
    • HP Master Accredited Systems Engineer (HP Master ASE) – Network Infrastructure
  • Aruba Networks:
    • Aruba Certified Solutions Professional (ACSP)
    • Aruba Certified Mobility Associate (ACMA)
    • Aruba Certified Mobility Professional (ACMP)
  • Red Hat: Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)
  • Alcatel-Lucent:
    • Alcatel-Lucent Network Routing Specialist I (NRS I)
    • Alcatel-Lucent Network Routing Specialist II (NRS II)


Salaries

The average salary for network engineers in the USA is $71,097. However, this may be dependent on your experience and the size of the company you work for, as the minimum salary is estimated to be $47,000 with the maximum at around $102,000.


Network engineer consultant salaries:

Junior:
Average:
Senior
$ 47,000
$ 71,000
$ 102,000

According to the freelance rate index at freelancermap, the average rate for freelance network engineers is $70 /hr (freelancermap freelance rate index November 2018).



Demand and freelance market


Can network engineers be freelancers?

The short answer is yes, it is definitely possible to be a freelance network engineer!

Experienced network engineers are in high demand these days, and working as a freelancer means you can work from home and offer your services to businesses in different cities - or even different countries.

Your responsibilities will be the same as a freelance network engineer as they are when you work for one business directly, but communicating with your clients will become even more important.

Additionally, a freelance network engineer will need to be comfortable working long, irregular hours, and even some weekends. Network engineers can be on call for 24 hours a day if something goes wrong, so you need to be prepared for that circumstance when you take on a bigger client.

 

Join our IT freelance community as a freelance network engineer   Sign up for free now

 

Are network engineers in demand?

The online world is still new and constantly changing, and for this reason, network engineers with an in-depth knowledge of network systems are in high demand.

What’s more, there are still many different avenues a network engineer can take to become more specialized in a certain field - and with more experience, specialists are in extremely high demand. The best approach is to continue learning and ensure you stay up to date with the latest systems and best practices to stay in high demand with your clients.

 

Who is hiring network engineers?

You can work for any company with its own large IT systems or work for companies that outsource their complete IT systems to specialists.

Typical companies and institutions hiring

  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Government authorities
  • Transport companies
  • Companies in retail
  • IT consultancies and agencies


Network engineer job description template 

Here is an example of how a job description from a company looking for a network engineer could look like in case you need it:

 

SEEKING NETWORK ENGINEER

Seeking a Network Engineer to structure, put into place, and monitor our infrastructure as we expand it. Must be able to work with a variety of operational problems and work well within our systems team to create accessible network structures that work efficiently to meet our objectives.

Responsibilities

  • Design, plan and implement network tech that directly supports goals of the company.
  • Revamping, restructuring, and implementing team-determined system standards.
  • Build and test simulations to test issues within the network infrastructure.
  • Work with team to uphold and maintain the network to its highest level of performance and promptly address issues reported by other departments.
  • Understand a variety of tools and be able to explain them to the body of the company if need be. 

Desired Qualifications:

  • At minimum a Bachelor’s of Science relevant to network engineering or 5-10 years’ experience with credible references.
  • Extensive knowledge of network protocols such as TCP/IP, DNS, and DHCP.
  • Proficiency in troubleshooting technologies and problem-solving.
  • Proficiency or certification in Cisco systems or other relevant tools.

 

If you are looking for freelance network engineer jobs, do not hesitate to take a look at the latest jobs at freelancermap:

>> Latest network engineer jobs for freelancers

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