Why it Pays to Be a Network Engineer

A man walking between two rows of servers.

Similar to a few other sizzling hot IT positions, such as software engineers and web developers, network engineers are in high demand.

“It’s one of just a few IT positions where candidates are hardest to find, and that generates strong demand,” said Cameron Morgensen, Salt Lake City division director.

Morgensen added that firms are seeking these masters-of-all-things-networking because networks have become increasingly complicated as technology has grown and advanced.

Going up: network engineer salaries

It’s no surprise given the demand for these IT professionals that a starting network engineer salary is projected to increase 5.7 percent in 2016, with compensation ranging from $96,000-$138,750.

You can use our Salary Calculator to adjust an entry-level network engineer salary for your city.

Interested in becoming a network engineer? Here’s a broad list of qualifications:

  • Be detail-oriented and have in-depth knowledge of networking hardware and software
  • Have five or more years of experience in areas such as network design and implementation, LAN/WAN interfacing, security, Internet protocols and TCP/IP, and server and network infrastructure
  • Have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or electrical engineering
  • A professional certification, such as Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), also is highly desirable

A typical network engineer job description includes:

  • Engineering enterprise data, voice and video networks
  • Establishing and operating network test facilities
  • Maintaining a secure transfer of data to multiple locations via internal and external networks
  • Working with vendors, clients, carriers and technical staff on network implementation, optimization and ongoing management
  • Providing high-level support and technical expertise in networking technology, including LAN/WAN hardware, hubs, bridges and routers

Communication skills are key to success

Aside from technical skills, the ability to communicate with non-technical people is essential. “Network engineers deal with everyone in a company, and if they aren’t able to communicate effectively, they won’t be able to grow into senior-level positions,” said Morgensen.

Further, Morgensen suggests recent college graduates looking to break into the field get certified: “Companies will take a risk on candidates who may not have as much experience, but have their Cisco Certified Network Associate designation. They may start you in an entry-level help desk position, which is a great training ground, but you won’t be there long.”

In addition to information on a starting network engineer salary and job description, you’ll find information on starting compensation for 70 IT jobs in 150 North American cities in our Salary Guide.

More career resources:

Note: This post has been updated. It was originally published on 12/16/13.

Tags: IT Jobs