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Career profile Network Engineer

Also known as Design Engineer, Network Analyst, Network and Security Engineer, Network Consultant, Network Systems Consultant, Networking Systems and Distributed Systems Engineer, Solutions Architect, Telecommunications Analyst

Network Engineer

Also known as Design Engineer, Network Analyst, Network and Security Engineer

Interests Profile
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$67,190 - $175,570 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Telecommunications
  • Engineering and Technology
Core tasks
  • Develop or recommend network security measures, such as firewalls, network security audits, or automated security probes.
  • Develop disaster recovery plans.
  • Monitor and analyze network performance and reports on data input or output to detect problems, identify inefficient use of computer resources, or perform capacity planning.
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What does a Network Engineer do?

Network Engineers design and implement computer and information networks, such as local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), intranets, extranets, and other data communications networks.

In addition, Network Engineers

  • perform network modeling, analysis, and planning, including analysis of capacity needs for network infrastructures,
  • may also design network and computer security measures,
  • may research and recommend network and data communications hardware and software.

What kind of tasks does a Network Engineer perform regularly?

Network Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Develop or recommend network security measures, such as firewalls, network security audits, or automated security probes.
  • Develop disaster recovery plans.
  • Monitor and analyze network performance and reports on data input or output to detect problems, identify inefficient use of computer resources, or perform capacity planning.
  • Coordinate network or design activities with designers of associated networks.
  • Develop conceptual, logical, or physical network designs.
  • Develop and implement solutions for network problems.
  • Communicate with system users to ensure accounts are set up properly or to diagnose and solve operational problems.
  • Determine specific network hardware or software requirements, such as platforms, interfaces, bandwidths, or routine schemas.
  • Visit vendors, attend conferences or training sessions, or study technical journals to keep up with changes in technology.
  • Evaluate network designs to determine whether customer requirements are met efficiently and effectively.
  • Participate in network technology upgrade or expansion projects, including installation of hardware and software and integration testing.
  • Adjust network sizes to meet volume or capacity demands.
  • Prepare detailed network specifications, including diagrams, charts, equipment configurations, or recommended technologies.
  • Estimate time and materials needed to complete projects.
  • Develop network-related documentation.
  • Supervise engineers or other staff in the design or implementation of network solutions.
  • Develop procedures to track, project, or report network availability, reliability, capacity, or utilization.
  • Coordinate network operations, maintenance, repairs, or upgrades.
  • Research and test new or modified hardware or software products to determine performance and interoperability.
  • Communicate with customers, sales staff, or marketing staff to determine customer needs.
  • Prepare design presentations and proposals for staff or customers.
  • Design, build, or operate equipment configuration prototypes, including network hardware, software, servers, or server operation systems.
  • Develop plans or budgets for network equipment replacement.
  • Prepare or monitor project schedules, budgets, or cost control systems.
  • Coordinate installation of new equipment.
  • Explain design specifications to integration or test engineers.
  • Develop or maintain project reporting systems.
  • Use network computer-aided design (CAD) software packages to optimize network designs.
  • Maintain or coordinate the maintenance of network peripherals, such as printers.
  • Develop and write procedures for installation, use, or troubleshooting of communications hardware or software.
  • Communicate with vendors to gather information about products, alert them to future needs, resolve problems, or address system maintenance issues.

The above responsibilities are specific to Network Engineers. More generally, Network Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

What is a Network Engineer salary?

The median salary for a Network Engineer is $116,780, and the average salary is $119,230. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Network Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Network Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Network Engineers earn less than $67,190 per year, 25% earn less than $88,120, 75% earn less than $147,480, and 90% earn less than $175,570.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Network Engineers is expected to change by 5.4%, and there should be roughly 11,000 open positions for Network Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
$116,780
Typical salary range
$67,190 - $175,570
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
5.4%

What personality traits are common among Network Engineers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Network Engineer are usually higher in their Conventional, Investigative, and Enterprising interests.

Network Engineers typically have very strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Also, Network Engineers typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Lastly, Network Engineers typically have strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Network Engineers typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Network Engineer tend to value Achievement, Independence, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Network Engineers very strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Network Engineers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Network Engineers strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Network Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, analytical thinking, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Network Engineers, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Persistence
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.

What education and training do Network Engineers need?

Many Network Engineers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Network Engineers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Network Engineers

  • 0.8% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 6.5% completed high school or secondary school
  • 21.2% completed some college coursework
  • 16.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 39.7% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 14.0% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Network Engineers

Network Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as computers and electronics, telecommunications, or engineering and technology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Network Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Telecommunications
Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Design
Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Important Abilities needed by Network Engineers

Network Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Network Engineers need abilities such as deductive reasoning, oral comprehension, and written comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Network Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.

Critical Skills needed by Network Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Network Engineers frequently use skills like critical thinking, reading comprehension, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Network Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Complex Problem Solving
Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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