How To Become a Network Engineer: A Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 14 December 2022

Published 14 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Businesses are increasingly relying on networked devices to complete their regular tasks. That is why they often need professional help from network engineers to design, build, set up and maintain their computer networks. Knowing how to build a career in network engineering can help you decide if this career option is right for you. In this article, we will discuss what network engineering entails and how to become a network engineer.

What Is A Network Engineer?

A network engineer, also known as a network administrator, is an IT professional who works in the field of computer networking. They usually work as part of a company's IT department and are responsible for making sure that their company's computer systems and network hardware are running efficiently. They do this by installing new hardware, running diagnostics, and completing routine software updates as they become available. They are also expected to take preemptive measures to protect against malware and other potential threats to network security.

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  • What Does an IT Professional Do? Duties and Requirements

How To Become A Network Engineer

Here are the steps for how to become a network engineer:

1. Complete necessary education requirements

After your 10+2, you can either pursue a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree course in networking technology or enroll in an engineering degree course, such as a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) or Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in computer science or a related field. A formal degree can help you start your career in network engineering. In fact, most employers prefer candidates who have a formal education in network engineering or a related field. You can get additional professional certifications after you complete your degree.

Related: 12 Careers After a BSc Course (With Duties and Salary)

2. Get vendor-neutral certifications

Consider getting the Comp TIA A+, Comp TIA Network+, and Comp TIA Security+ certifications. These certifications offer basic to advanced knowledge of IT matters. You must pass one or more exams at each level to proceed to the next level. It can take anywhere from six months to slightly over a year to complete a certification course.

The Comp TIA A+ is a basic-level certification that offers basic IT knowledge, and you must pass its exam before moving on to Comp TIA Network+. This certification will teach you about troubleshooting and operating different devices. However, these certifications do not offer in-depth instructions on a particular company's devices. You can also choose to complete the Comp TIA Security+ certification, which focuses specifically on network security and related areas.

3. Decide which devices you want to work with

Check out the products from Cisco, Microsoft, and SolarWinds, and decide if you want to get additional training and certifications specific to these companies and their devices. If you want to work with software programs and devices, for instance, you may benefit from getting Microsoft certification. The certification will enable you to understand Microsoft's network security practices, manage virtual networks, storage, and other resources and identify possible threats to virtual networks.

4. Get vendor-specific certifications

At this stage, you can choose to pursue certain vendor-specific certifications for network engineers. Your options include beginner and mid-level certifications by Cisco, the certified professional certification by SolarWinds, the Security Administrator Associate certification from Microsoft 365, and the Azure Administrator Associate from Microsoft. You must pass an exam to obtain each of these certifications. Here is a list of network engineer certifications that some companies may require you to have:

Cisco

Cisco offers multiple certifications, including the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), and Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE). With the CCNA certification, you will learn about the basics of a routed and switched computer network. You will also know how to install, set up, and configure a network. Additionally, you will learn how to troubleshoot and operate it. The CCNP certification is valid for three years. It is meant for professionals with some work experience in the network engineering field. The CCIE is more advanced and concerned with designing and managing complex networks.

SolarWinds

The SolarWinds certified professional certification is the only certification offered by the company, but it allows aspiring network professionals to choose between two different tracks in addition to a career within the company. The process to obtain this certification entails one written exam.

Microsoft

The company offers the Microsoft 365 Certified Security Administrator Associate and the Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate certifications to aspiring network engineers. The Microsoft 365 Certified Security Administrator Associate certification offers in-depth training on Microsoft 365's network security practices. For the Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate certification, you must have prior experience in using Azure software. You will learn to manage Microsoft's virtual networks, their storage, and other resources.

Related: What Is An Azure Certification? (Definition And Examples)

Wireshark WCNA Certification

With this certification, you will learn how to analyze packets and protocols. The analysis will help you to troubleshoot and optimize computer networks. You will also learn how to make those networks secure. To get this certification, you must pass an exam on Wireshark functionality and TCP/IP network communications. The exam also covers network troubleshooting and network security.

Juniper Certification

Juniper Networks offers a number of certifications, including the Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate (JNCIA), Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Enterprise Routing and Switching (JNCIS-ENT), Juniper Networks Certified Professional Enterprise Routing and Switching (JNCIP-ENT), and Juniper Networks Certified Expert Enterprise Routing and Switching (JNCIE-ENT).

The JNCIA is an associate-level certification that provides basic networking knowledge. On the other hand, the JNCIS is a specialist-level certification that will help you gain in-depth knowledge of data centers, routing, switching, and security. The JNCIP certification is a professional-level certification. Upon completing this certification, you will know the inner workings of Juniper Networks' networking domains. The JNCIE certification is meant to validate your networking expertise.

5. Search for network engineering jobs

Once you have earned your graduate degree and/or professional networking certifications, you are qualified to enter the job market. Prepare a well-formatted cover letter and resume and be sure to list your network engineering credentials in the resume. Look for network engineer positions, and start sending job applications. And while you are waiting to hear back from your prospective employers, try to keep up with the industry trends and developments. If you can find an internship opportunity or a part-time job in networking, go for it.

Related: Resume Skills For A Network Engineer: Meaning And Examples

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Network Engineer?

To become a networking engineer, you need a bachelor's degree in network engineering, systems engineering, computer science, or a related field. You can also complete additional certifications to gain more knowledge about network engineering. It is often necessary to renew these certifications every few years and keep yourself updated with the changing industry trends and requirements.

In addition to studying data centers, storage, and security, you should also have knowledge of compliance, virtualization, DevOps, and more. Keep in mind that learning never stops in this profession. The more you know, the more employable you become.

Related: Cyber Security Interview Questions and Answers

How Long Does It Take To Become A Network Engineer?

If you take the traditional educational route, it can take you anywhere between five and six years to become a network engineer. You must first complete a three-year or four-year bachelor's degree course in network engineering, computer networking, computer science, systems engineering, or a related field. After that, it can take anywhere from six months to three years to earn different network engineering certifications.

Related: What Is Software Engineering? Complete Guide

Do You Need A Degree To Be A Network Engineer?

While a degree is not necessary to become a network engineer, having one could boost your chances of finding employment with some of the top networking companies like IBM, Siemens, Microsoft, Cisco, AT&T, and Juniper. Many employers require candidates to have a graduate degree. However, some employers may accept an associate's degree and vendor certifications.

Your network engineering experience also counts when it comes to getting hired. There are not as many skilled professionals as are needed in this field. So, if you have plenty of experience in designing, installing, configuring, and troubleshooting networks, you will be in high demand by employers.

Related: Top 37 Networking Interview Questions And Sample Answers

Is Network Engineering A Good Career?

Network engineering is a good career, as networking is a fast-growing field. There is an increased demand for qualified and skilled network engineers. As a network engineer, you can expect reasonable job security and a decent salary. The average base salary of a network engineer is ₹2,45,725 per year.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article is affiliated with Indeed.

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