GUIDE TO BECOMING A NETWORK ENGINEER
In today’s technology-driven environment, the function of Network Engineers has taken on an increasingly critical importance. Engineers that specialize in network design are the ones who are in charge of creating, implementing, and maintaining the computer networks that make it possible for different devices and systems to communicate with one another and share data. The need for network engineers who are able to operate from home or independently has increased dramatically in tandem with the proliferation of remote work and distributed teams. In this article, we will discuss who Network Engineers are, what it is that they do, the several income options that are available to them, and where people may find remote employment opportunities in the exciting subject of Network Engineering.
A professional who plans, creates, and is responsible for the upkeep of computer networks is called a Network Engineer. They are accountable for ensuring that all network systems are trustworthy, effective, and safe in some capacity or another. Network Engineers are responsible for working with a diverse array of technologies, some of which include routers, switches, firewalls, and other network equipment.
Responsibilities of a Network Engineer?
The responsibilities of a Network Engineer can vary depending on the organization and the complexity of the network infrastructure. However, here are some common responsibilities associated with the role:
- Designing and Planning Networks: Network Engineers are responsible for designing and planning network architecture based on the organization’s requirements and growth projections. This includes determining network protocols, IP addressing schemes, network topologies, and selecting appropriate network equipment.
- Installing and Configuring Network Equipment: Network Engineers are involved in the installation, configuration, and deployment of network devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, and wireless access points. They ensure that the network equipment is properly connected, updated with the latest firmware, and configured according to industry best practices and security standards.
- Managing Network Infrastructure: Network Engineers are responsible for the day-to-day management and maintenance of network infrastructure. This includes monitoring network performance, troubleshooting network issues, and optimizing network performance to ensure high availability, reliability, and scalability.
- Network Security: Network Engineers play a critical role in implementing network security measures to protect the organization’s data and systems from unauthorized access and cyber threats. This involves configuring firewalls, implementing intrusion detection and prevention systems, conducting security audits, and applying security patches and updates.
- Network Troubleshooting and Support: When network issues arise, Network Engineers are responsible for troubleshooting and resolving these problems promptly. They use network monitoring tools, diagnostic techniques, and their expertise to identify and resolve network connectivity issues, performance bottlenecks, or other network-related problems.
- Network Performance Optimization: Network Engineers analyze network performance metrics and make recommendations for improving network performance and efficiency. This may involve optimizing network configurations, implementing Quality of Service (QoS) policies, load balancing, and bandwidth management.
- Network Documentation: Network Engineers create and maintain accurate documentation of network configurations, diagrams, IP address schemes, and other network-related information. This documentation helps in troubleshooting, maintenance, and future network expansion.
- Collaboration and Communication: Network Engineers collaborate with other IT teams, such as system administrators, security analysts, and application developers, to ensure seamless integration and operation of the network infrastructure. They also communicate with stakeholders to understand network requirements, provide updates on network status, and offer technical guidance.
- Keeping Up with Technology Trends: Network Engineers need to stay updated with the latest networking technologies, industry standards, and best practices. They continuously learn about emerging trends such as software-defined networking (SDN), network virtualization, cloud networking, and automation to enhance the network infrastructure.
Qualifications and Training to be a Network Engineer
To become a Network Engineer, you typically need a combination of education, certifications, and practical experience. Here are some common qualifications and training requirements for this role:
- Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as Computer Science, Information Technology, or Network Engineering is often preferred by employers. However, some organizations may consider equivalent work experience in lieu of a degree.
- Industry Certifications:
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): This entry-level certification validates foundational knowledge of networking concepts, routing, switching, and network security.
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP): The CCNP certification is a more advanced level Cisco certification that covers advanced networking topics such as troubleshooting, designing, and implementing complex networks.
- Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate (JNCIA) and Juniper Networks Certified Internet Professional (JNCIP): Juniper certifications focus on Juniper networking equipment and technologies.
- CompTIA Network+: This certification covers general networking concepts, network protocols, and network troubleshooting skills.
- Other vendor-specific certifications: Depending on the networking equipment and technologies used by your organization, certifications from other vendors such as Huawei, Arista Networks, or Palo Alto Networks may also be relevant.
- Training and Skill Development:
- Networking Courses: Attend training programs and courses that cover networking concepts, protocols, routing, switching, network security, and wireless networking.
- Hands-on Experience: Gain practical experience by working with network equipment and technologies in a lab environment or through internships and entry-level positions. This experience helps you develop troubleshooting skills and gain familiarity with real-world network scenarios.
- Network Simulators and Emulators: Use network simulators and emulators, such as Cisco Packet Tracer or GNS3, to practice configuring and troubleshooting networks virtually.
- Technical Skills:
- Networking Protocols and Technologies: Develop a strong understanding of networking protocols such as TCP/IP, VLANs, OSPF, BGP, MPLS, and VPN technologies.
- Network Security: Familiarize yourself with network security principles, firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS), and VPN technologies.
- Routing and Switching: Gain expertise in configuring and managing routers, switches, and routing protocols.
- Network Monitoring and Troubleshooting: Learn network monitoring tools and techniques to identify and troubleshoot network issues.
- Wireless Networking: Acquire knowledge of wireless networking concepts, protocols, and best practices.
- Network Automation and Programmability: Familiarize yourself with network automation tools, scripting languages (such as Python), and network programmability concepts.
- Soft Skills:
- Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills: Develop strong analytical and problem-solving skills to identify and resolve network issues effectively.
- Communication: Enhance your verbal and written communication skills to convey technical information to both technical and non-technical stakeholders.
- Collaboration: Work well in cross-functional teams and collaborate with individuals from various backgrounds and expertise.
- Continuous Learning: Stay updated with the latest networking technologies, industry trends, and best practices through continuous learning and professional development.
Average Annual Salary For Network Engineers?
The salary of a Network Engineer varies depending on their level of experience, location, and industry. According to Payscale, the average salary for a Network Engineer in the United States is $76,000 per year. However, this can range from $52,000 to $116,000 per year. Network Engineers with more experience, certifications, and specialized skills can earn even higher salaries.
Job Outlook For Network Engineers
Remote work opportunities for Network Engineers are abundant, and many companies offer remote or work-from-home positions. Apart from our job board, here are some other popular job search websites for remote Network Engineer positions:
- Elite Digest
Networking with professionals in the field and attending industry events and job fairs can also be beneficial in finding remote job opportunities.