Last Updated on August 30, 2023
Setting up a computer network is not tricky task. But to become an expert in this field you need to have a good knowledge of computer networking. Understanding the basic networking implementation is just the first thing that you have to do. Then comes the choice of a right software. You have to be careful in selecting because your knowledge will depend on it. Learn how to become an expert in computer networking. Collegelearners.com is your first resource for high quality information in the areas of healthcare, technology, and business. Know more about How To Become Expert In Computer Networking, how to practice computer networking skills, how to become a network engineer with no experience, what is network engineer, network engineer salary & network engineer skills.
what is network engineer
A network engineer is a technology professional who has the necessary skills to plan, implement and oversee the computer networks that support in-house voice, data, video and wireless network services.
Although the job titles network engineer and network administrator are sometimes used as synonyms, a network engineer usually has more executive responsibilities than a network administrator. The engineering side deals more with planning, design and technical specifications. The administration side deals mostly with day-to-day maintenance, management and troubleshooting efforts.
The job titles may also be differentiated by education or earnings. Typically, a network engineer has more education and earns more than a network administrator. Employment projections show that network engineers are in demand, and the profession — and closely related professions — are expected to grow between 4% to 7% in the next decade.
What does a network engineer do?
Network engineers focus on delivering high-availability network infrastructure to sustain the users’ online and on-site information technology activities. Network engineers often overlap with other roles, such as computer network architects or security systems engineers, and work internally within an organization or as outside consultants.
Network engineers design and implement network configurations, troubleshoot performance issues, carry out network monitoring and configure security systems such as firewalls. They often report to a CIO, chief information security officer and other line-of-business leaders to discuss and decide upon overall business goals, policies and network status updates. In many situations, network engineers work closely with project managers and other engineers, manage capacity and carry out remote or on-site support.
network engineer skills
A job candidate may only need an associate degree to obtain an entry-level network engineering job, but most positions require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or multiple years of additional experience. Many network engineers also come from fields such as electrical engineering, physics or mathematics.
Engineers must be able to understand complex networks and pinpoint problems or suggest ways to improve them. They must also be able to work collaboratively, as well as instruct other engineers and support staff to operate the network. And they have to be able to be flexible enough to work with both engineers and line-of-business colleagues who may not have any understanding of networking.
In addition to technical skills, network engineers need analytical, leadership, organizational and communication skills. An attention to detail and the ability to problem-solve are also important.
Increasingly, network engineers also need to know about applications and software development, reflecting the growing role of automation and software-defined networking. Therefore, engineers need to understand traffic flows, application priority and data transport.
Additionally, engineers should also become acquainted with hyper-convergence, virtualization, security, containers, wide area networking and storage engineering. They should also understand the basic elements of networks, such as clients, servers, internet routing, IP addresses and network hubs.
Network engineer certifications and training
A number of universities and other institutions offer network engineer training courses and programs. Several institutions offer certifications that can help boost professional credentials.
For many engineers, additional qualifications and training are closely tied to the Cisco engineering certification program, which offers several levels of career training. Other certifications are available from vendors and organizations such as Juniper Networks, Microsoft, Aruba, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, Riverbed Technology, SolarWinds, HPE, Extreme Networks and the IPv6 Forum.
Some of the more popular network engineer certifications include:
- CompTIA Network+
- Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) Routing & Switching
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
- VMware Certified Professional — Network Virtualization (VCP-NV)
how to become a computer network specialist
Finding your next job can be tough. In our technology-driven world, applying for jobs online while in your PJs is a convenience that’s hard to resist. But a crucial component of a successful job search involves networking: getting out there to expand your professional contacts and discover opportunities.
How to network effectively
Networking skills come easily to some, but this is rare. For most of us, they’re an acquired talent and require practice over time. And that practice is well worth the effort: the research consistently shows that internal referrals are the top source of hires, meaning those personal relationships can have significant payoffs.
1. Start by determining your goals.
Ask yourself what you are looking for from the relationships you hope to develop. Are you anticipating making contacts with a specific future employer? Meeting a new mentor who can provide career guidance or industry expertise? Meeting new people in your industry? Perhaps all of these? Intentionally identifying your networking goals will help you structure questions you want to ask, prepare your elevator pitch and determine requests you have for your contacts.
2. Talk to your friends.
Friends can play a valuable role in your networking efforts. Whether you’re an introvert, new to networking, or having trouble focusing your goals, begin with people you already know. Take them to coffee or lunch and learn the story of their career paths and choices. Focusing your conversation on their professional experiences will reveal new perspectives and ideas, even if you’ve known each a long time. Ask if they can connect you to someone in your field or at one of your dream companies, and build from there.
3. Attend events to meet new people.
Step away from the computer screen and shake some hands. Online networking is a powerful tool, but there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction. If employment is your goal, the networking events you’ll find the most productive are ones that include a diverse mix of job seekers, industry reps, recruiters, and companies seeking talent. If you’re looking to meet peers in your industry or learn more about a new field, you can easily find industry- or career-focused groups and meetups in your local area by searching social media channels.
You can use these networking events to make new connections and then, you’ll be able to follow up and cultivate those relationships with meaningful one-on-one conversations.
Pro tip: Think quality over quantity. Networking is not about trying to meet as many people as you can. It’s not a numbers game. Seek people who will make a difference in your life—and those you can inspire as well.
4. Ask to understand.
Amidst the stress of the job search, it’s easy to become so focused on yourself that you forget to really pay attention to others. When you network, whether at an event or a one-on-one coffee, ask people genuine questions based on your goals and listen closely to their answers.
Clear your mind and focus on listening empathetically and with curiosity rather than with self-interest. You’ll learn a lot in the process and make an impression with your attentiveness. Active listening is a skill we should all practice, and networking events are the ideal opportunity.
5. Build a network matrix.
Target the companies you’re interested in, and seek out people who work for each company or who know someone there. Build a “Who + Where” matrix that matches who you know with where they work and use their name as referrals when you apply for positions at those companies (be sure to ask their permission first). A contact who can provide insight into the hiring manager’s personality or preferences is a real asset. At some companies, employees receive a bonus if their referral is hired; if your friend is lucky enough to work for a company that rewards referrals, you’ll both have something to celebrate.
Below is just one of the ways to organize your network matrix. This example highlights an individual focusing on jobs in the technology industry because they include more contacts from companies in this area. As this example shows, you also can organize your network contacts by relationship and how well you know each individual (in this case, by tier) to understand and prioritize how your contacts can help.
6. Volunteer in your community.
If you can, donate your time to a good cause and mingle with people who aren’t in your industry. It feels good to give your time to others in need, and if you’re unemployed, it’s wise to get out of the house and not spend too much time in isolation. Pick a cause or group that resonates with your values and donate a few hours each month.
Volunteering can help you grow your social network by exposing you to people who share your passions and personal values. You can also volunteer for a professional association to grow career-related contacts as well. Along the way, you may meet mentors and new friends with fresh job leads.
7. Follow up and don’t forget the basics.
After an event, send follow-up emails to your contacts, thank everyone you spoke with, and complete any promised tasks. Even if you haven’t made commitments, stay active and develop your new relationships. And don’t forget to always carry a printed version of your resume and business cards, if you have them. If you’re inviting people in your network out to coffee or lunch, always offer to pay for the meal and send a thank-you note following the conversation.
Increasing your visibility as a job candidate is the primary benefit of networking, but it’s also just the beginning. Building relationships with people who you feel are knowledgeable and reliable can provide guidance and help you get where you want to go. And these relationships aren’t a one-way street: you will also meet people who can benefit from your support. In this way, you’ll build a professional circle over time, one based on the idea that goodwill should be paid forward. By coupling networking with your online job search strategy, you will exponentially increase your opportunities for success.
network engineering courses
- CompTIA A+ Certification.
- CompTIA Network+ Certification.
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2016.
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Core Infrastructure.
- VMware Certified Professional – Network Virtualization.
Network engineer salaries
A typical network engineer salary ranges from $49,000 to more than $132,000 annually, depending on skills, experience level and geographic area, according to Glassdoor. The average base salary for a network engineer in the U.S. is $87,000 per year, according to Indeed.
Engineers can also earn bonuses, and some employers offer profit-sharing programs as well. Network engineers typically work 40 hours a week, but they may be called upon for weekend work, evenings and other times outside of business hours to resolve technical problems.
Network engineer career prospects
Network engineers may also pursue different paths within the networking field. Network analysts, for example, specialize in the installation and maintenance of networks and often cross over between the technical and business sides of an organization. Network managers fill a similar role but must train and direct network technicians.
Below is a list of jobs — besides network engineer — that are suitable for someone with network engineering skills:
- Network Manager
- Network Analyst
- Network Administrator
- Network Specialist
- Network Technician
how to practice computer networking skills
Computer networking is at the foundation of every business. It’s what connects devices and allows an organization to communicate internally and with the outside world. If you’re looking to jumpstart your career in this sought-after field, learning the networking basics is a great place to start.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to break into networking in three easy steps.
Step 1: Learn the Components of a Network
The first step toward becoming a networking professional is learning the components of a network and how they work together.
There are several essential components in a network:
- Access Points
- IP Addresses
- Routers and Firewalls
How Network Components Work Together
Switches and access points connect the devices or “clients” in a network so they can talk to each other.
Each client has a numerical label known as an IP address. This address indicates the location of the client device and identifies it as belonging to the network.
Servers host and send information in the form of web content, applications and files to client devices. They use IP addresses for direction.
Routers control the flow of information from servers to clients and outside networks. Firewalls protect a network from unwanted users and messages.
Here’s how each network component works:
Switches are pieces of hardware that connect devices in a network. They allow information to be sent between PCs, printers, mobile devices, servers and other devices quickly and efficiently. You connect devices to a switch with cables.
There are two types of switches: managed and unmanaged.
- Unmanaged switches are typically used for home networks. To create a network with an unmanaged switch, you just plug devices into it.
- Managed switches are used for bigger networks. You can configure them to provide greater network security and prioritize local area network (LAN) traffic.
Whether you use a managed or unmanaged switch, the purpose is the same: to enable cross-device communication by creating a shared pool of resources.
An access point is a hardware device that allows Wi-Fi enabled devices to connect to a network without cables. It can be built into a router or connected via ethernet cable. Access points are customarily used for networks with many devices like an office, school or coffee shop.
Also known as “hotspots,” access points allow people to connect any device to a network if they’re within a defined geographic radius.
A server is a high-powered machine that dispatches data to devices in a network. There are several types of servers including web, email, FTP and identity.
- Web servers send data to client devices through browsers like Chrome, Firefox or Safari. They deliver web pages and files stored in the cloud to phones, PCs and other devices.
- Email servers allow email programs like Gmail or Outlook to send and receive messages.
- FTP (File Transfer Protocol) servers let you remotely copy and move files from one device in your network to another.
- Identity servers are databases that store the user credentials for a network. Identity servers allow IT departments to authenticate user access.
Clients include any computer hardware or application in a network that requests data from a server. This client-server relationship is what makes a network function.
The most common types of network clients used by businesses are desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, lights and AI devices.
IP addresses are unique identification codes for network devices that tell servers where to send data. A device must have an IP address to allow other devices to establish a connection with it.
IP addresses can be public or private.
- Public IP addresses identify your network to external devices and networks.
- Private IP addresses also identify network devices, but they are only visible to your network.
Most internet service providers assign a public IP address to your network router and private IP addresses to user devices. If a machine outside your network wants to relay data to a user device within your network, it will use your router’s public IP address to transfer the information. From there, your router will send the data to the user device using a private IP address.
Routers and Firewalls
A router acts as the gateway to your network. It also allows all networked computers to use one internet connection.
Routers analyze data coming into your network and tell it where to go.
You can customize routers with additional security features to protect your network from cyberattacks. One type of protection is a firewall.
A firewall is the most basic level of network security. It scans incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block it. You can configure a firewall to allow or disallow various types of traffic.
Step 2: Choose a Networking Job Role
The second step to launching your networking career is to choose a job role. There are many jobs in the networking field to choose from, including:
- Network specialist
- Network technician
- Network administrator
- Network analyst
- Network manager
- Network engineer
- Network solutions architect
Network specialists install and configure network components. They set up, support and maintain local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and other networking systems.
Becoming a networking specialist is a great way to break into IT. Most employers typically require 2-3 years of IT experience or an entry-level networking certification like the Cisco Certified Entry Networking (CCENT). Network specialist is a hands-on position with room to grow.
Network technicians have a wide variety of responsibilities.
They troubleshoot software and hardware issues within a network, make repairs, perform scheduled updates and provide technical support to clients. Network technicians typically inspect cable line connections to make sure they’re working. They also work with an IT team to outfit devices with security software.
An IT team usually relies on its network technicians to manage hardware and software installation and upgrades.
To become a network technician, you typically need:
- Five years of experience in an IT support role
- A bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or a related field
- A strong background in server management, software installation and upgrades
- A basic understanding of computer network cabling
- Customer service experience
Network administrators oversee an organization’s IT infrastructure and ensure it’s up to date. A network admin’s primary responsibility is making sure all of the software and hardware platforms within an organization are connected and communicating with each other to drive the business forward.
Network administrators need to be well-versed in a variety of networking specialties including design, configuration, troubleshooting, upgrades, software deployment, server management, storage and security.
To become a network administrator, you should understand popular networking products and systems like Cisco, Citrix and Microsoft Active Directory. Network administration can be an entry-level role if you have the right amount of training and experience. You can earn a degree in network administration online or supplement a computer science or software engineering degree with field experience.
Network analysts are responsible for identifying business issues within an organization and solving them with information technology. They plan, design, analyze and provide technical support for their client’s network. It is a senior networking role that typically requires a bachelor’s degree and 1-5 years of experience serving clients and working on teams.
Network analysts must draw upon their business and technical insight daily to present IT solutions that increase efficiency and profitability for an organization.
Network managers have two primary roles:
- Installing, configuring and troubleshooting client computer networks
- Training IT staff to provide excellent tech support and customer service
When a technology problem comes up for a client, the network manager is responsible for getting it resolved — whether that means deploying a team of engineers, connecting clients with technicians or escalating the problem to an analyst.
Above all else, network managers keep tabs on problems that arise and put systems and technology in place to prevent them from recurring.
To become a network manager, you need:
- A bachelor’s degree in computer systems or equivalent experience
- Relevant certifications, such as the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and CompTIA Network+
- Experience with basic network components
Network engineers perform many of the same tasks as a network admin, but on a more technical and strategic level. They design and configure network and security systems to support the chief information officer’s overall IT goals for an organization.
Unlike other network execution roles, network engineers are involved in giving network status updates to IT decision makers to influence business decisions.
With a relevant bachelor’s degree and the right certifications from Cisco, Microsoft and CompTIA, you can break into networking as an engineer. Engineers with several years of line-of-business experience can earn more than $115,000 annually.
Network Solutions Architect
A network architect is a senior position in information technology and a step up from a network engineer. They are responsible for an organization’s long-term network strategy.
Network architects analyze computer network problems affecting business operations and devise 3-5 year roadmaps to improve performance. In addition to designing network solutions, network architects must be able to plan, budget, model and track performance.
To become a network solutions architect, you need 5-10 years of industry experience and a wide variety of certifications, which may include several of the following:
- Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA)
- Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP)
- Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE)
- Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr)
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Routing and Switching
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Data Center
- Salesforce Certified Technical Architect
- ITIL Master
- Red Hat Certified Architect
Within each of these networking roles, you can also specialize in specific areas of networking such as:
- Network security
- Cloud networking
- Networking research and development
- Wireless networking
- Wireless infrastructure and mobility
- Mobility solutions
- Networking project management
- Data center networking
Step 3: Get Prepared With Networking Certifications and Training
The third step to breaking into networking is to get prepared by taking beginner or intermediate certification courses. Three certifications every networking professional needs include:
- Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching
- CompTIA Network+
Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)
The CCENT certification is the starting point for a successful career in networking. Training courses for this certification teach you how to install the essential components of, operate and troubleshoot a network. They also prepare you to set up elementary network security.
In a CCENT prep course you will learn about:
- Core routing and switching
- Network interactions and functions
- Firewall setup
- Wireless controllers and access points
- Basic network security
There are no prerequisites to obtain a CCENT certification. Start training for this certification by taking the New Horizons course, Cisco Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 v.3.0 (ICND1).
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching
Cisco’s CCNA certification tests you on foundational network technologies in routing and switching, the skills required to become a core network engineer.
The CCNA certification tests you on a wide range of topics including:
- Foundational knowledge in core routing and switching
- Advanced technologies in routing and switching
- Network installation, configuration, operation and troubleshooting
- QoS elements
- Virtualized and cloud services
- Controller types and tools that support network architectures
Like the CCENT, there are no prerequisites to obtain this certification. You can prepare for the CCNA by taking the New Horizons course, Cisco Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 v3.0, Part 2 v3.0 or Accelerated v2.0.
The CompTIA Network+ certification demonstrates mastery of network troubleshooting, configuration and management.
The CompTIA Network+ exam tests you on:
- Network design and implementation
- Configuration, management and device maintenance
- Switching and routing
- The ability to identify network configuration efficiencies and deficiencies
- Network security standards, protocols and implementation
- Virtualized network creation
There are no official prerequisites to take the CompTIA Network+ exam, but experts recommend you have a CompTIA A+ certification and at least 9-12 months of networking experience.
You can prepare for the CompTIA+ Network certification test by taking the New Horizons course, CompTIA Network+ Certification.
be great if we could get a job from the safety of our couches, in our pajamas, without having to leave the house. Unfortunately, almost no one actually gets hired from online applications. Networking is still the best way to get your foot in the door. And networking requires both wearing pants—and social skills. Here are five things you absolutely have to do to be one step closer to becoming a networking expert.https://82f8a14ee14ca9c579e96cb6b24ccad6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Prepare in advance
Have a plan before you walk up to the big fish and try to reel them in. Figure out whom you might have the opportunity to meet at any particular event, then learn as much as you can about them. Figure out what you should emphasize to each, and how best to frame yourself. Practice your pitch. Bring plenty of business cards.
This isn’t the same as selling used cars. You’re not the Avon lady. Most sentient humans will appreciate a little more sincerity. Remember—you don’t have to be in sales mode all the time in every encounter. Try connecting on a personal level first and letting the conversation evolve naturally before you start thrusting your business cards in people’s faces.
As great as it would be to send somebody to network for us, this just doesn’t work. Don’t send a friend or colleague—or your sister—to shake hands with that particular hiring manager if you can’t attend yourself. Send a professionally worded email explaining how much you’d like to meet and see if you can’t find another opportunity instead.
Expand your reach
Don’t play it safe. Your contacts, no matter how many you have, are not enough. It will always be beneficial to keep growing your network and making more connections. You never know when you will need them. Get out there and mingle!
This is perhaps the most important step in the whole process. Whether you send a handwritten note or an email, it’s absolutely crucial to follow up. It shows your interest and your professionalism, and has the added benefit of reminding that connection you exist!