Network engineers are in high demand, with over 650% job growth in less than a decade. There are plenty of reasons these are becoming crucial to businesses of all sizes.
They can help your scale more efficiently and end up saving you money. Wouldn’t that be nice?
However, that’s not all network engineers can offer. Read on to find out what network engineers actually do and how they could benefit your business.
What Is a Network Engineer?
A network engineer is a highly skilled professional. They oversee the design, implementation, oversight, and maintenance of an organization’s computer network.
The network supports in-house data, voice and video, and wireless transmission. Network engineers are also known as network architects.
The main goal of a network engineer is to maintain a secure environment. They also aim to provide an infrastructure that will offer the best performance to users.
Some organizations opt to have a wide array of network engineers working remotely. Even from several different countries. Doing so ensures their global connectivity rarely misfires.
What Do Network Engineers Work With?
Network engineers work with networks (who’d have thought?).
Yet, there are several different types of networks that they build and repair, let’s take a look at them.
Wired Computer Networks
A computer network connects several computers. They do so via nodes to enable secure data, voice, and video transmission from one computer to another. There are four types of computer networks:
Local Area Networks (LAN) is a group of computers connected in a small geographic location. LANs could be over one building or several such as a school or prison.
Personal Area Network (PAN). A PAN connects an individual’s personal devices and covers a small radius of about 10 meters. It can either be a wired or wireless connection.
Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) – covers a large geographical area and interconnects several LANs. (Usually within cities).
Wide Area Network (WAN). It spans over a larger geographical area than MAN extending to continents. The internet is an example of a WAN.
Further, networks connect in different layouts referred to as network topologies. Some of the common topologies are ring, bus, mesh, star, and line topologies.
An ideal computer network can use any of these topologies or a combination of several.
A wireless network with communication via a wireless connection between network nodes.
The following are the different types of wireless networks:
- Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN)
- Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)
- Wireless Metropolitan Area Network (WLAN)
- Wireless Wide Area Network (WLAN)
- Cellular Network (also known as a mobile network)
- Global Area Network – A network that allows a mobile to traverse several wireless LANs
- Space Area Network – An example is NASA’s Space Network (This network provides communication between space crafts) – We doubt you’ll need to use this one!
What are the Roles of a Network Engineer?
Today, most businesses connect through at least one type of network. Whether it’s a local area network or a wide area network, they’re all connected. A network engineer comes in handy to ensure these networks are up and running.
There are several roles that a network engineer handles in a network. If your business needs help with any of these issues, using a network engineer is the way to solve them.
Some of the roles include:
- Planning the design and implementing it to create a network
- Improving the efficiency of a laid-out network
- Procuring of network equipment and components
- Configuring network equipment such as firewalls, routers, and switches to increase efficiency
- Slot for and perform scheduled network upgrades.
- Ensuring the greatest network performance through monitoring and troubleshooting network transmissions
- Investigating causes of errors or faults in the network services
- Performing security roles, such as carrying out data backups and updating anti-virus software
- Implementing new network data security systems
- Their collaboration with external network service and support vendors ensures efficient network operations.
Network Engineering Specialties
Network engineering is a large field. There are many specialties that network engineers can pursue. To further their career, engineers should choose at most two areas to specialize in.
So, you may not just need any type of network engineer – but a specialist. Below is a rundown of the specialization options available for network engineers.
A network analyst handles effective communication in a network. They analyze the business data to find solutions to networking issues too.
They create network software and hardware configurations geared to maximize network performance.
Network Security Specialist
A network security specialist detects, resolves, or prevents threats against a computer network. They source and install hardware and software network solutions.
Another role of the network security specialist is to develop security measures. They do so after analyzing present security risks.
Network Software Engineer
A network software engineer or developer handles designing, building, and implementing network software. This software is often developed for new or existing network infrastructure.
Most software engineers have a lot less to do with hardware installation than other branches of network engineering.
Wireless Networking Quality Analysis (QA) Engineer
A wireless networking QA engineer analyzes networking software. They use their coding and testing skills to do so.
QA engineers assist network software developers in enhancing the performance of their products.
Data Center Networking Specialist
There is an increasing complexity of computer networks. Data center network specialists develop solutions to manage in-house or business data effectively.
A data center specialist’s primary role is to carry out technical installations of equipment.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Engineer
A VOIP engineer is in charge of planning, designing, and implementing voice infrastructure. They also solve any problems arising from data and voice transmissions.
Also, they track and troubleshoot the voice transmission in the network. VoIP network specialists should communicate with clients and teammates effectively too.
Business Data and Network Managers
Business data is any information captured in the day-to-day operations of an organization. Network engineers often use this data to improve the performance of the network.
A network manager handles the day-to-day running of a network. They also train and offer network support to end-users. They may also repair errors in the network chain.
The Requirements or Job Qualifications of a Network Engineer
There is no major restriction for entry-level in the network engineering field. Yet, network engineering needs an undergraduate in an academic field, such as:
- Computer Networking
- Network Operations
- Computer Information Systems
- Computer Engineering
- Computer Science
- Computer Science and Mathematics
- Computer Systems and Networking
Networking technologies are forever changing. Hence, they should regularly take training and pursue professional certification programs. Many employers prefer networking professionals who have invested in such certifications.
Qualifications to Look For When Hiring a Network Engineer
Cisco certification is among the best. It focuses on the theoretical aspects of networking. Many undergraduate programs also include Cisco certifications in their curriculum.
Listed below are some other qualifications useful for advancing one’s networking career:
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- CompTIA Certifications ITIL® Foundation Certification
- Amazon AWS SysOps Administration-Associate
- LPI Linux Essentials
- Certified Wireless Network Professional (CWNP)
- Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) International Certifications
- HP Expertone Networking Certifications
- Extreme Networks Certifications
- Wireshark Certifications
- Oracle Certifications, among others
The Importance of Training for Progress
Hiring an experienced network engineer is much more effective than hiring a newbie. Here’s why.
Technical careers, such as network engineering, need a lot of practical experience. Network engineers need to take part in on-the-job training for most of their learning.
Usually, entry-level network engineers seek voluntary or internship opportunities. Doing so allows them to attend in-house training sessions within reputable organizations.
Training is recommended to sharpen networking skills. They need to do this to stay relevant in the Network Engineering field. Constant training helps them stay ahead of the curve.
The experience network engineers gain enables them to score lead roles in organizations. This gives them the confidence to venture out on their own in freelance projects too.
The Skills of a Network Engineer
Just like Liam Neeson in Taken, network engineers have a particular set of skills.
One of the reasons why hiring an experienced engineer is because they bring the following to the table:
Network engineers need the following hard skills to excel in their careers:
- Programming – To be a network engineer, people should have basic coding skills. You’ll also need knowledge of popular scripting languages for networks. Think Python and Ruby.
- They should also be familiar with automation languages such as Java and Terraform. Networks are increasingly becoming automated.
- Networking – They should have the basic know-how of integrating different types of networks. The networks include WAN, LAN, SD-WAN, and SD-branch.
- Domain-name system – The internet, as well as most networks, run on DNS. It is, crucial for network engineers to know how to troubleshoot the DNS.
- Virtualization – They should be able to work on automated network functions like SD-WAN
- Network Infrastructure – The network engineer must maintain the network hardware and infrastructure
- Security and firewalls – You cannot overlook the security of a network. Engineers have to set up and maintain the network’s firewall too.
Network engineers need knowledge of other primary technical skills. These skills can include research and data entry.
They need to know this because end-users usually perform these basic tasks. So, a network engineer needs to know how to address arising issues.
The character of an individual is superior to their expertise. The following skills will determine work relations and directly impact their work environment.
Network engineers encounter varying challenges and different types of people. So, they must hone the following vital qualities during their careers:
- Analytical Minds – A network engineer should be able to interrogate the network. They also must understand all the services it renders. Then, come up with new solutions to future challenges and requirements.
- Good Time Management – A network engineer needs to be good at planning their time.
- Ability to Assimilate New Technologies – Networking technologies evolve at an alarming rate. A network engineer needs to learn and adapt to the new systems quickly.
- Adherence to Procedures or Protocols – All forms of technical works follow a procedure. A network engineer needs to be aware of all technical network protocols.
- Organization – Multitasking should be one of the qualities of a network engineer. They should be able to handle many issues at one time.
- Good Verbal and Written Communication Skills – A network engineer should communicate network problems. They should be able to propose solutions to non-IT employees and management.
- Documentation – Proper record-keeping enables easy maintenance of a network by a network engineer.
- Business Awareness – Businesses have varying deliverables, hence their needs and requirements differ. A network engineer should understand the daily happenings of the business network. This knowledge helps them to efficiently serve end users.
Why You Should Hire a Network Engineer
A network engineer will ensure your network is running efficiently. They can mitigate problems that can cause downtime in your operations. They also decrease the turnaround time of processes running in your networks.
Network engineers help business owners to avoid negative network surprises. In case of network failure, without an expert will remain stranded. Likely for an extended period of time.
An in-house network engineer records issues, repairs and maintenance carried out. They can identify the source of the problem, saving your valuable time and resources. So, hiring an expert like Roxanne Tamayo can help your network run smoothly.
Hiring a network engineer will allow you to translate needs into technical solutions. Network engineers can understand your requirements as a business. They ensure the network has an optimal configuration to meet your specific needs.
Networking equipment, aside from being complex, is costly. You don’t need to worry about the lifetime of your equipment once you hire a network engineer. They are aware of the best practices to ensure your network equipment lasts for a long time.
Businesses are prone to security threats to their data because of increased value. The commercialization of in-house data can be blamed for this. A network engineer will create network security protocols and install necessary protection software.
Hire the Right Network Engineer
A network engineer is cost-effective for the efficient running of an organization’s network. Hire a network engineer and you’ll be in good hands no matter what your networking needs.
Did you enjoy this article? If so, be sure to check out our other tech articles for more tips on running your business effectively.