Also known as computer network architects, network engineers work with a company’s computer network, using information technology to make network systems for all employees to use.
Network engineers are responsible for implementing, maintaining, supporting, developing and, in some cases, designing communication networks within an organization or between organizations. Network complexity can vary depending on the organization, and the company may have one dedicated engineer or many globally connected engineers working together with the Chief Technology Officer.
Their goal is to ensure the integrity of high availability network infrastructure to provide maximum performance for their users. Users may be staff, clients, customers and suppliers. Networks can include:
Network engineers may work internally as part of an organisation’s IT support team, or externally as part of an outsourced IT networking consultancy firm working with a number of clients.
Other job titles used to refer to this kind of work include:
- network/helpdesk support;
- support/security/systems engineer;
- IT/systems support engineer;
- network administrator;
- first/second-line support;
- network architect;
- VoIP/Cisco engineer.
- establishing the networking environment by designing system configuration, directing system installation, defining, documenting and enforcing system standards;
- the design and implementation of new solutions and improving resilience of the current environment;
- maximizing network performance by monitoring performance, troubleshooting network problems and outages, scheduling upgrades and collaborating with network architects on network optimization;
- undertaking data network fault investigations in local and wide area environments, using information from multiple sources;
- securing network systems by establishing and enforcing policies, and defining and monitoring access;
- the support and administration of firewall environments in line with IT security policy;
- updating job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities, reading professional publications, maintaining personal networks and participating in professional organizations;
- reporting network operational status by gathering and prioritizing information and managing projects;
- upgrading data network equipment to the latest stable firmware releases;
- the configuration of routing and switching equipment;
- the configuration of hosted IP voice services;
- the basic configuration of firewalls;
- remote support of on-site engineers and end users/customers during installation;
- remote troubleshooting and fault finding if issues occur upon initial installation;
- capacity management and audit of IP addressing and hosted devices within data centres;
- liaising with project management teams, third-line engineers and service desk engineers on a regular basis;
- speaking with customers via email and phone for initial requirement capture.
You must at least have a bachelor’s degree in a computer related field, such as programming, computer science, engineering or similar. Employers also look for experience in the field, either working with IT systems or in network administration.
A degree in the following subjects is likely to increase your chances of getting a job as a network engineer:
- computer science;
- computer software/computer systems engineering;
- computer systems and networks;
- electrical/electronic engineering;
- network security management;
- an up-to-date knowledge and understanding of your employer’s business and industry needs, as well as the technical demands;
- to recognize the importance of customer focus and/or of serving the needs of the end user;
- excellent communication skills, particularly the ability to communicate with staff who are not technically trained;
- the skill to take on a variety of tasks and pay attention to detail;
- analytical and problem-solving ability;
- teamwork skills and the ability to feel comfortable working with different teams, clients and groups of staff across an organization;
- organizational skills and the ability to prioritize your workload.