What Does A Network Engineer Do? (Salary, Skills And Career)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 August 2022

Published 3 January 2022

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.

A company or organisation requires a complex network infrastructure and connectivity for employees to share data or resources easily and facilitate uninterrupted communication flows. A network engineer designs, implements and troubleshoots any problems associated with the network. They also help other employees and staff members to access this network, build secure protocols and maintain the network. In this article, we discuss the answers to 'what does a network engineer do', the work environment, qualifications, skills required and future career prospects of a network engineer.

What Does A Network Engineer Do?

To answer 'What does a network engineer do?', it is important to understand why their role is vital to an organisation. Companies and their employees can operate more effectively when they can share communication, data, files and relevant resources. To facilitate this, a secure network and internet connectivity are useful. Unfortunately, a network can be quite prone to cyber-attacks, which may cause loss or corruption of valuable data and files. Hence, network engineers establish robust security measures to prevent such thefts or occurrences.

Here are some common duties and responsibilities of a network engineer:

  • Create networking environments: Network engineers are responsible for creating and maintaining networking environments and capabilities. They design system configuration, direct system installation on the client's device and define associated protocols.

  • Innovation and optimisation: They continuously work towards making the existing environment and configurations sturdier. They also devise more effective and innovative solutions that may be useful in the future.

  • Enhance performance: Network engineers aim to enhance the current performance of the networking environment. They constantly audit performances, fix any related problems and keep the system updated.

  • Network security: They define essential network security protocols, create firewalls and administer policies. Network engineers also maintain access control.

  • Management and training: After attaining a certain level of experience and expertise, some network engineers may manage and train their subordinates.

Related: Network Administrator Vs. Network Engineer: What's The Difference?

Network Engineer Work Environment

Network engineers may work in wide-ranging industries and businesses where networks, internet configurations and support are necessary for daily operations. They usually work for a company or organisation and report to the head of Information Security. While fulfilling their duties, they may coordinate and work with project managers and other network engineers to meet the desired goals. Most of the work of a network engineer confines them to an office location, but occasionally, they may travel to other offices of the same organisation to provide technical support.

The job of a network engineer is important, as computer systems and networks are crucial to the operations of most businesses. If you work for a consultancy that provides network services to clients, you may spend time travelling and assisting those clients with installations, configurations and troubleshooting network problems at their business locations. Network engineers may work in various fields including:

  • IT/Information Technology: This is the most predominant sector for IT professionals like network engineers to find employment. The IT industry is replete with diverse technology and requires efficient systems and configurations in place to help them function smoothly.

  • Education: The education industry has grown immensely and most educational institutions are rapidly adopting new technology to facilitate more effective teaching and learning methods.

  • Government: The government, its documents and functions, have quickly become digitised and continue to do so. This calls for sturdier network capabilities and innovative functionalities to meet the demands of a large population for which they use secure networks to safeguard sensitive data.

  • Health care: The health care industry carries a lot of sensitive data regarding patients, their health and medical information meant to be used for enquiries and developments in the medical field. They also protect this data and collaborate with concerned entities securely.

  • Social media: With the advent of several social media platforms and all communication going digital, there is an abundance of opportunities in this field. There are millions of user profiles, shareable data, private and public communication, audio and video data sprawling the web, which are regulated through strong and efficient networks.

  • Military: Military harbours a lot of sensitive communication, national data and advanced technology to conduct their operations. These need constant vigilance and maintenance to ensure all communication is secure over the LAN networks and no data gets leaked, intercepted or monitored by the wrong entities.

  • Telecommunications: This also involves the transmission of digital information, such as audio and video communication, over long distances. Telecommunications requires the setting up and maintenance of transmission lines and complex radio wave emission equipment.


Related: 5 Steps To Become A Network Engineer And Network Engineer Certifications


Qualifications Required To Become A Network Engineer

There are various factors that work together to make you a qualified candidate for the role of a network engineer. These include your educational background, industry-relevant knowledge and skills. Here are some qualifications for a network engineer:

Educational background

Companies prefer a network engineer to possess at least a degree in computer science, computer systems engineering, electrical engineering, information technology, network security management or a related field. Attaining a master's degree can enhance your job prospects by making you suitable for high-end companies or helping you get better pay packages. Professionals in this industry consistently strive to update their knowledge and upgrade their skill-level while on the job. Although it is not mandatory to possess the above qualifications to become a network engineer, larger firms are picky about the qualifications a candidate possesses.


Related: What Can You Do With An Electrical Engineering Degree?


Knowledge

Apart from the educational qualifications, a strong background or knowledge of mathematics and physics can be an asset. A network engineer usually displays in-depth knowledge and understanding of various aspects of a network and connections so that they can establish, manage, maintain and troubleshoot any problems associated with these complex setups. Here are some basic concepts that network engineers would know:

  • Network: A network exists whenever two or more devices get connected through a medium like cables, radio waves, infrared beams or telephone lines. A network consists of a few elements.

  • Server: A server is a primary device that stores and transmits data to other devices or computers within a network.

  • Client: This is the computer or device that receives the requested data from the server over a network.

  • Router: A router is a device that directs traffic between the Internet and computers or other devices in its proximity.

  • Switch: A switch acts as a mediator within a network that connects and pushes the information or data forward to the requesting device.

  • IP address: An IP address is a numerical string that identifies a device or a computer and its location so that the right computers can send and receive information from each other.

  • Network traffic: This is the data that is being transmitted between computers at a particular time. When many users are using their systems, network traffic is usually high.

There are different types of networks with which network engineers may work. Some of these are smaller in size and range, and they cover fewer devices, while others are larger and encompass a wider area with more systems and devices. The security and network protocols can vary according to the network. Some of these networks include home network, Local Area Network (LAN), Metropolitan Area Network, Wide Area Network (WAN), Global Area Network, voice over internet protocol, intranet and extranet.

Certifications

Although certain employers prefer their network engineers to hold degrees, you can become a network engineer even without them. You may undergo targeted training or short, focused courses that apply to the field. The completion of such courses can lend the required knowledge and skills. They also help you acquire certificates and diplomas to testify the knowledge so that you can get employed as a network engineer. Some of these certifications include the following:

  • CompTIAA+

  • Cisco certified network associate

  • Cisco certified entry networking technician

  • Certified information systems security professional

  • VMware certified professional - network visualisation

Skills Required For A Network Engineer

As a network engineer, your core skills are your technical skills that are usually gained through education and certifications. These are essential for performing your duties. Additionally, having the following soft skills can be a great asset:

  • Problem-solving ability

  • Leadership acumen

  • Teamwork

  • Communication skills

  • Multitasking

  • Analytical skills

Career Prospects For Network Engineers

As a network engineer, the type of organisation you work for and the extent of its IT structure guides your career trajectory. If you work for a large firm, you may start as a network engineer, then progress to a senior network support role, followed by a network manager or other IT management roles. Sometimes, network engineers can also move into other IT or customer-centric roles. Some may get into IT-related project management or network architecture. Network controllers mainly do the decision-making, manage staff, devise and suggest strategies for the future.

In a small company, you may start as a network controller because of the lower headcount. This means you may also have other duties of a network engineer clubbed with IT-related decision-making power. After gaining substantial experience in the field, some network engineers may also choose the self-employment path by becoming independent contractors or freelancers.

Salary Of A Network Engineer

The average salary of a network engineer is ₹39,050 per month. This can increase with more experience, advanced skills and qualifications. Also, as you progress in your career and take on senior or management positions, you can expect a substantial hike in your earnings.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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