Network Engineer Career Overview & Outlook

Network engineering and data science are booming. It has had a 650% employment increase in less than one decade and predicts adding more than 11 million new positions within the following few years.

If you want to transfer into this prosperous industry, it’s time to dig deeper into it. This article will discuss every aspect of a network engineer, including responsibilities, education requirements, fob outlook, salary, and more.

Let’s get into the details to see more!

Job Description

Network Engineering involves one technological field, giving a wider meaning to a network.

With the network engineering process, a professional can develop new initiatives and ideas to work with the network infrastructure, come up with network services with data, calls, voice, and wireless networks.

Besides, it also delivers a mechanism for routine network problems, such as troubleshooting errors and traffic congestion.

There is no denying that network engineering has made communication, connection, and sharing too much faster, more efficient, and more secure.

Each network comes in different types. Here are some of the most utilized network kinds:

  • Global area network – GANs
  • Wireless local area network – WLAN
  • Desk area network – DAN
  • Campus/controller/cluster area network – CAN
  • Broad area networks – WANs
  • Storage/system/server/small area network – SAN
  • voice over internet protocol network – VoIP
  • Local area networks – LANs
  • Personal area network – PAN
  • Metropolitan area networks – MANs

What Are Network Engineers?

Network engineers involve highly skilled technical professionals designing, planning, and managing various networks to perform smooth connection and communication regarding wireless networks, data, voice, services, and videos.

With experience in networking, these professionals will be responsible for implementing higher-level infrastructures and configurations, troubleshooting issues, and administering the whole network systems’ security.

These experts are a vital part of IT teams since they can understand the networks’ comprehensive working and offer necessary software and hardware tools for rapid and secure communication and connection across various areas.

Duties and Responsibilities

Most businesses have one network that will keep them running. Those networks include an organization’s computers, routers, phones, extranet, and intranet.

The task of network engineers or network administrators is to implement, plan, and manage those critical systems. So, they are valued and well-paying roles.

As an engineer in this field, your responsibilities and activities might include:

  • Optimization: You will probably work with external support and service vendors to ensure optimal network operation.
  • Security: This task includes data backups, updating virus protection software, and implementing new network data security systems.
  • Performance: One of your tasks might be troubleshooting and monitoring network systems. In addition, you may need to look for new ways to improve performance.
  • Configuration: It includes installing routers, proxy servers, VPNs, WAN accelerators, load balancers, and switches.
  • Maintenance: Network engineers may be responsible for network scheduling updates, installing service packs or patches, and performing upgrades.

Where Does A Network Engineer Work?

Network engineers might work for agencies, organizations, and companies in and out of the technology sector.

People often associate networking with computer systems design, cloud computing, and telecommunications projects, but various network engineers work in entertainment, healthcare, retail, fashion, and finance.

The top employers hiring network experts are some famous companies like Google, NVIDIA, Verizon, and Amazon, but some of the best-paying companies known for hiring these engineers include Lockheed Martin and VISA.

Education Requirements

Network engineer at work


If you want to get an entry-level position, you must start with getting a bachelor’s degree in IT, network engineering, computer engineering, information systems, etc.

Then, you can get critical experience to be an essential team member and move on within the organization or gain other opportunities.

Network technology often changes quickly, so we recommend regularly taking the training. Also, you should get some information technology (IT) certifications that your employer requires for future positions.


Although the certificate is optional, getting it is still a good idea as it will give you an edge in the job application process. The reason is that employers often favor certified candidates.

Here are some certifications that will grow your career and skills:

  • CCNA
  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA Project+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • LPI Linux Essentials
  • CompTIA Cloud Essentials
  • CompTIA IT Operations Specialist
  • ITIL Foundation Certification

Essential Skills

If you want to succeed as a network engineer, you need to master these skills.

Soft skills

Network engineers typically work on various tasks and with many stakeholders. So they need a broad set of soft skills, such as:

Time Management

This skill will help you keep many projects on track and meet their deadlines.


This skill allows you to resolve problems quickly to lower network downtime and damage.

Analytical Thinking

With this skill, you can ensure your systems and network perform reliably and proactively recognize new requirements when needs arise.


This skill allows you to handle various issues and tasks simultaneously.


Communication skills are essential for network engineers.

It enables you to describe challenges and solutions to management and non-IT employees effectively.

Hard skills

You will need these hard skills to become a successful network engineer.

MPLS Network

Although SD-WAN has replaced MPLS, working with MPLS-exclusive networks is still one essential skill.

Virtualization Abilities

Network engineers must work with automated network functions, such as SD-WAN, to optimize your network’s resources.

Security and Firewalls

Although your company or organization may have IT (Information Technology) security experts, it is better to know how to maintain or deploy network firewalls.

IoT Knowledge

Several network architectures, such as SD-branch, utilize Wi-Fi to support the loT ecosystems. It is expected to dramatically affect enterprise network infrastructure, security, and traffic.

Domain-Name System

Most enterprise networks were built on (Domain-Name System) DNS, like the internet, so you should know how to handle it.

Infrastructure Expertise

As a network engineer, you might be responsible for maintaining your network’s infrastructure and advising on what hardware it will reside on.


Many network engineers know prevalent scripting languages for business-grade networks, such as Python, Perl, and Ruby.

The automation-friendly language, such as Java, Ansible, and Terraform, is also helpful as various network functions become automated.


For network engineers, knowing how to integrate LAN, WAN, SD-WAN, SD-branch, and other architectures and networks are essential.

Essential Tools

This list includes 10 powerful working tools for network engineers of any kind:

  • PuTTY (and Super PuTTY)
  • Notepad++
  • WireShark
  • ZenMap and NMap
  • Python
  • GNS3
  • Oracle VirtualBox
  • Microsoft Visio
  • IPerf
  • MultiPing

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that computer systems and network engineer positions will grow by 5% through 2030. Accompanying it, 25,000 openings are projected each year.

The increase in jobs is thanks to the usage of IT in various new fields, such as healthcare, and the demand for more advanced mobile networks and faster technology among all industries.

Generally, the employment outlook for the network engineer is very large. Jobs in the field are larger than candidates, making the unemployment rate for network engineers around 0%.

One of the significant reasons for the shortage of employees in the network engineering field is that employers always look for highly educated, experienced, and qualified IT professionals.

Companies require the network engineer to own at least one bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree is preferred. Also, many companies need candidates with years of experience and specific network certifications.


The average annual salary for network engineers is $75,449. Through simple calculations, you will know that this salary equals $36.27 per hour, $1,450 per week, or $6,287 per month.

Most network engineer salaries range mainly from $49,500 to $90,000, with top earners making $99,000 annually across the US.

The average salary range for a network engineer greatly suggests there are many opportunities for increased salary and advancement based on location, years of experience, and skill level.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Once you become a network engineer, you will receive many benefits. However, some downsides are still associated with being an expert in this field.


  • Constant learning.
  • Roam for innovation.
  • Lucrative salary package.
  • Diverse fields of networking.


  • Stressful work.
  • Lots of accountability.
  • A lot of multi-tasking is involved.
  • An incident response could be required at any hour.


Is Network Engineering a Good Career?

Yes. Network engineering is a dream career if you prefer working with computer systems and networks and gaining good pay for your job.

How to Become a Network Engineer?

Step 1: Learn the networking basics

Step 2: Learn the necessary programming languages

Step 3: Gain required skills, such as security & firewall, and network design.

Step 4: Get working experience with freelancing, or startups or personal projects.

Step 5: Look for your community to get discussions and new perspectives

Step 6: Get the newest technologies.

Is Network Engineer a Dying Career?

The answer is definitely not. On the contrary, it grows more and more over time.

Is Being a Network Engineer a Hard Job?

Working as an engineer in this field can be challenging as you need to stay abreast of updates made to computer programs.

You might need to take extra courses and continually train to stay up to date. In addition, if issues arise, you need to work weekends or evenings to handle them.

Does a Network Engineer Have a Future?

As a network engineer, you can expect a bright future ahead. In addition to the IT industry, every other industry is also searching for network engineers.

Does a Network Engineer Make Good Money?

These engineers can gain fairly good average pay if they have decent working experience in the field or have a job in some metropolitan city.

The average salary of network engineers might vary according to location, skills, experience, and recruiter.

Career Advice

Network engineering is a promising career for anyone who prefers working with computer systems and networks. Depending on location, industry, and experience, you can earn a six-figure salary.

You can start your career in this field by getting the necessary degrees and certifications. Then, you should continuously strengthen your knowledge and skills through internships at smaller companies.

That way, you will succeed as a network engineer in your expected company.