Your Next Move: Network Engineer

Some of us look at the big picture of how networks help us do our jobs, and others look at the details in the connections and data transfers. Network engineers need to see both. If you’re creative and detail oriented, a career in network engineering could be for you.

YNM Network EngineerThis article is part of an IT Career News series called Your Next Move. These articles take an inside look at the roles related to CompTIA certifications. Each article includes the responsibilities, qualifications, related job titles and salary range for the role. As you consider the next move in your IT career, check back with CompTIA to learn more about your job prospects and how to get there.

Some of us look at the big picture of how networks help us do our jobs, and others look at the details in the connections and data transfers. Network engineers need to see both when they design the systems that keep the world connected. They need a balance of creativity and analytical thinking – neither skill alone can help them build the best data communication network. If you’re creative and detail oriented, a career in network engineering could be for you.

What Is a Network Engineer?

Network engineers, sometimes known as network architects, are responsible for building and designing communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and intranets. These systems can be as simple as two computers and as complex as multi-system enterprise networks with cloud integration.

Some responsibilities of a network engineer include:

  • Designing, deploying, managing and troubleshooting networks
  • Analyzing network traffic and predicting growth to determine future needs
  • Presenting to leadership their plans and explaining how they meet the needs of the organization
  • Understanding cybersecurity and how it affects networks
  • Staying up to date on the latest technologies to determine the best options for their organization

Network engineers may share some of the same responsibilities as network administrators, and in some organizations, a network engineer and network administrator may be one in the same.

In organizations that differentiate the role, the network engineer takes on the design of the network, where network administrators focus on maintenance and troubleshooting. In some organizations, network administrators report to the network engineer.

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How to Become a Network Engineer vs. Network Architect

Most network engineers (66%) have a bachelor’s degree, and 15% have a master’s degree in a computer-related field such as computer science, programming or engineering. But as with many IT roles, a college degree isn’t everything. Employers also look for relevant experience in IT systems or network administration. And network engineer jobs often require certifications – either vendor-specific ones for the systems used or vendor-neutral ones like CompTIA Network+. 

To become a network architect, IT training and certifications plus hands-on experience prove to employers you have the skills needed for jobs like Network Architect. CompTIA Network+CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA CySA+ are great options to gain the skills employers look for in Network Architect. 

The Details

Network Engineer vs. Network Architect Salary

The median annual wage for network engineers is $81,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

10th

Percentile

25th

Percentile

50th Percentile | Median

75th

Percentile

90th

Percentile

$50K

$63K

$81K

$103K

$131K

 Early Career                                    Mid Career                               Advanced Career 

The median annual wage for network architects is higher at $121,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

10th

Percentile

25th

Percentile

50th Percentile | Median

75th

Percentile

90th

Percentile

$63K

$84K

$121K

$152K

$169K

 Early Career                                    Mid Career                               Advanced Career 

There are many factors that influence salary such as location, job level, years of experience, company size, and more. Visit the CompTIA IT Salary Calculator for more detailed wage data.

Network Engineer Job Outlook

According to CompTIA State of the Tech Workforce, tech occupation employment over the next 10 years is expected to grow at about twice the rate of overall employment across the US economy.

The growth rate for network engineers is projected to be higher than the national rate. On a numeric basis, network engineers is one of the leading tech occupation categories with more than 684,000 jobs in 2021 and nearly 8,500 new jobs to be added this year.

Looking back over the past 12 months, employers in the US posted more than 283,000 jobs seeking network engineers (109,900+) or network architects (173,300+). (Source: Lightcast, July 2022)

Job Titles Related to Network Engineer

Ready for your next move? Check out the new version of CompTIA Network+.

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