How to Become a Network Engineer
A network engineer is an IT professional who has the technical skills to plan, implement and oversee all computer networks, including the latest generation of wireless network services.
The demand for experts in managing and manipulating sophisticated networks is on the rise across North America and Europe. In fact, networking engineering and architecting rank in the top five most essential skill sets for business.
Companies of all sizes are on the lookout for IT network professionals who can help lower operating costs, boost efficiency and give them a competitive advantage when scaling their business. By earning an industry-recognized certification in network engineering, you can help the businesses of today build the networks of tomorrow by ensuring there is a consistent flow of sensitive information while maintaining high levels of security.
What Is a Network Engineer?
Network engineers ensure maximum efficiency for network infrastructure, IT security and overall network performance for organizations of all sizes. Enterprise organizations often have global network engineers across countries, which means, as an IT network engineer, you may be asked to travel for work.
These specialized engineers excel in crafting digital networks that connect our smartphones, laptops, traffic lights and the emerging Internet of things (IoT) devices like Google Home, Alexa and smart home security. Routers, switches and wireless access points are some of the hardware requirements network engineers need to work with as part of their planning and implementation.
As technological advancement accelerates, IT-based careers like network engineering are changing, too. Therefore, it’s necessary to keep up with the changes by continuously learning and enhancing skills with new certifications. Network engineers must also be current with the latest technological trends and software updates.
Due to networking innovations and the increasing demand for growth in high-powered industries, most companies face setbacks in scaling their operations. That’s why many companies are increasing their investment and dependence on IT services. However, they still face several daily challenges, so IT departments must constantly expand.
Generally, a network engineer’s responsibilities fall under building and maintaining these network types:
- Local Area Network (LAN)
- Wide Area Network (WAN)
In 2015, job postings went up 74 percent over the previous five years, with more than 200,000 job vacancies in the industry. Many companies are looking for network engineers because of the complexity in today's network and technological advances. They need to hire experts in computer network maintenance, system design and implementation management.
The salaries for a certified network engineer can range from $46,500 to more than $115,000 annually, depending on skill level and experience. Network engineers can also receive bonuses. The typical work schedule is 40 hours per week, but projects may demand commitments on weekends and evenings when needed.
Qualifications of a Network Engineer
If you’re looking for entry-level employment as a network engineer, you may only require certification to get hired. Many engineers pivot into network engineering from other disciplines such as electrical engineering or mathematics, so the certification path is also ideal for those changing their career.
In terms of soft skills, you should have an analytical mind with attention to detail, while also possessing the charisma to lead a team. These skills come together in leading projects that begin by first pinpointing the source of a problem, then collaboratively or individually formulating a plan to implement work upgrades and builds before finally overseeing and coordinating the project to come to fruition in implementation. This requires working closely with other engineers in multiple disciplines and supporting staff to operate the network.
The most popular certifications for network engineering focus on cybersecurity, project management and cloud computing, with project management typically being the most sought after.
Top Five Networking Certifications
These are the top five networking certifications in 2019, according to BusinessNewsDaily.com:
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
- Cisco Certified Network Professional
- CompTIA Network+
- SolarWinds Certified Professional
- Wireshark Certified Network Analyst
Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
If you want to take an all-encompassing certification, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) course is the ideal path. CCIE engineers are in short supply, which makes it a lucrative program if you want to take a big leap into a network engineering career. In fact, there are so few CCIE engineers that Cisco claims they could hire all the annual CCIE graduates themselves. This is a testament to the certification’s appreciation in the tech industry.
Getting your CCIE certification means you may be taking a rigorous program that requires quick thinking and fast action. In the end, all the hard work you put in will be worth it once you see the doors that open, including considerable job security and a high salary.
How to Become a Certified Network Engineer
ExitCertified offers many network training courses to help you get started, including:
- Red Hat: Ansible for Network Automation
- Microsoft: Networking with Windows Server 2016
- Basic NetApp Configuration and Administration
- VMware NSX: Troubleshooting and Operations v6.4
- VMware NSX-T Data Center: Install Configure Manage v2.4
- VMware vRealize Automation: Install Configure Manage v7.6
- Red Hat: OpenStack Platform Training Courses
- Red Hat OpenStack Administration III: Networking & Foundations of NFV
- Aruba Switching Fundamentals
- CWL: Deploying Cisco Basic and Advanced Wireless LANs v1.2
- Cisco Unified Computing System Core (UCS-CORE) v6.2
- SAP: Supply Network Planning (APO-SNP)
- Avaya Session Border Controller Implement and Support
Become a Certified Network Engineer Through ExitCertified
Take the next step in advancing your career with top IT training certifications through ExitCertified. Our certifications provide you with a distinct competitive advantage, and our expert instructors can provide training in class or virtually over an online connection. We offer over 9,500 IT training courses from 25 leading brands to maximize your earning potential. All our certifications are vendor-authorized and teach the most current standards in the industry.