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How to get a job as a network engineer: Tips for kick-starting a career in network engineering

Matthew Finnegan | Aug. 25, 2015
How to get a job as a network engineer. Read on to see what skills, qualifications and certifications are required to begin a career as a network engineer, and what the future of the role holds.

While more junior roles - such as first and second line support - may offer a salary in the region of £19,000 a year, experienced network engineers can expect to earn anything from £35,000 a year, up to around £70,000 for network architects, says Grubb.

For example a network engineer - with responsibilities including installing and configuring network systems, investigating faults or administering firewall protection - is likely to earn between £35-55,000. Meanwhile those in charge of architecture - a more senior role involving planning of network systems across a business - are likely to be paid between £50-70,000, according to Robert Half figures.

This all depends on the size, sector, and type of business, as well as the size and scope of the projects engineers will be working on.

In terms of region, London is unsurprisingly where many of the highest paid network engineers are employed, alongside Edinburgh and Leeds.

How to get a job as a network engineer: Qualifications and certifications

For those aiming to get to the top of the profession, almost all employers will prefer at least a bachelor's degree at university, as well as industry certification.

Preferable academic qualifications to begin a career involve IT and computing courses, as well as maths-related subjects which tend to provide a strong analytical background, according to Grubb.

As for technical certification, unsurprisingly industry-leader Cisco's CCIE is the most desirable. Rival vendor Juniper's JNCIE certification is also increasingly in demand from employers.

Other training, such as knowledge of ITIL processes is beneficial too.

Colt's Menezes says: "At a basic level, I would advise researching heavily the type of business you want to work in, the educational and training requirements for that role and the tools that are available to help you.

"Gaining experience is beneficial, alongside achieving the right qualifications.

"I have specialised in network architecture, but also work closely with colleagues in other areas of network engineering. "

Apprenticeships offer another, if under-utilised, path into a network engineer job. This is more common among smaller firms and consultancies, says Grubb, rather than large firms which tend to prefer a university degree.

"Apprenticeships are undervalued at the moment - a lot of bigger organisations have gone down the degree route," Grubb explains. "But some of the smaller businesses and network consultancies, or infrastructure consultancies, will make more of apprenticeships, and it can be a good way in for individuals."

How to get a job as a network engineer: Other skills

Gaining a strong knowledge in areas like network design - such as the implementation of LAN and WAN interfacing, virtual servers and understanding of TCP/IP - is vital, says Grubb.

 

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