How Do I Become a Network Engineer

If you have excellent problem-solving skills and want to work with technology, you might wonder how to become a network engineer. Businesses in virtually all industries use computers for important tasks, often on a daily basis. Network engineers are professionals in the information technology (IT) field who develop and maintain computer networks. They are involved from the earliest planning stages to providing support in solving problems.

Network engineers work with computer technology, including both hardware and software. Hardware refers to the pieces that make up the computer, such as the monitor, the computer tower, and devices such as printers. Hardware comprises even the smallest chips and cards that make the computer work. In contrast, software refers to non-tangible parts of the computer network. Software includes the operating system that allows the computer to function, programming software and application software, which users utilize to do word-processing and other work tasks. While some software comes from a compact disc, the program itself cannot be physically touched like hardware can.

Network engineers must plan a network that will meet the needs of the business and help it achieve all of its technology goals as efficiently as possible. They may assemble networks out of the necessary hardware and install the operating systems and other software to be used on the computers. A network engineer will configure settings as needed to make sure that computers are functioning at their optimal level. Essentially, a network engineer’s job is to make sure that a company’s computer system communicates correctly. If problems arise, the network engineer is the one to figure out a solution. Network engineers are less likely to spend time handling minor technical issues that occur with daily use, instead focusing their energies on achieving big-picture goals and solving large-scale problems.

Network engineers need thorough technical knowledge to learn the ins and outs of computer hardware and software. To acquire this knowledge, they should pursue a bachelor’s degree in a technology-related subject, such as computer science, programming, information science, telecommunication or information technology. A growing number of colleges are establishing network engineering degree paths. Earning a master’s degree and gaining hands-on experience through internships can help increase an aspiring network engineer’s opportunities for securing the desired position. Network engineers can also seek certification of their proficiency using specific programs and systems such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco.

CNN Money ranked network engineer 21 on its “Best Jobs in America” top 100 list in 2010, citing a median salary of $87,000 for experienced professionals and a six-figure top salary. The publication also anticipated an excellent job outlook, with a 53 percent increase in network engineer career opportunities over a ten-year period. Do you have great planning skills, the technical abilities to execute those plans, and the resourcefulness and creativity to solve problems and streamline processes? If so, knowing how to become a network engineer could be your first step on the path to a fulfilling new career in a rapidly-growing field.

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