Computer Network Engineer: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a computer network engineer. Learn about job duties, education, job outlook, and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Cisco Network Systems degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Computer Network Engineer?

When creating a computer network for a company or business, computer network engineers will work with construction managers to create the layouts necessary to install proper network products where they will be best needed. In presenting these layouts, an engineer will take into consideration security, hardware, and what the best support for the system may be. If upgrading is an option, a computer network engineer will collaborate with management and executives to plan budgets on the best procedures to either install a new network or update the system they have.

Computer network engineers analyze the networking needs of a business, design a unique network model, and install it. The following chart gives you an overview about what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree required, master's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Computer networking, information systems, network engineering
Key Responsibilities Design computer networks, install and maintain data systems
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9%* (computer network architects)
Median Salary (2015) $100,240* (computer network architects)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as a Computer Network Engineer?

As a computer network engineer, your main goal will be to design computer networks. If you are interested in the field, you might also find a job under the title of network architect. You will be responsible for installing and maintaining data communication systems such as wide area networks (WANs), local area networks (LANs) and the Internet. You might work for a single large business or corporation, or you might find employment with a wireless communication company that tends to the networking needs of several business clients.

Some of your other duties in the role of computer network engineer might include network modeling and analysis. This means you will have to analyze the particular networking needs of a business and determine which software and hardware solutions will suit them the best. You will then plan out, install and maintain those various solutions, which might include wireless adapters, routers or network drivers.

What Education Will I Need?

You will typically need at least a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field before you can earn the title of computer network engineer. Some 4-year degree programs that might be suitable include those in information systems or computer networking. However, a Bachelor of Science in Network Engineering degree program can provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary to gain an entry-level career in the field. Core courses cover infrastructure design, server operating systems, IT networking, network directory services, internetworking device troubleshooting and more.

Some employers might prefer you to have completed a graduate degree program before they will hire you as a network engineer or network architect. Any type of Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program with a concentration in information systems might be appropriate. Such a program will provide you with an understanding of management and business principles as well as a thorough background in information systems.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that computer network architects earned a median annual wage of $100,240. According to PayScale.com, the salary range for the middle 50% of professionals in the field was $91,000-$130,000 in January, 2017, including bonuses and profit sharing.

What Will the Future of the Career be Like?

The employment of computer network architects is predicted to grow by 9% between 2014-2024, according to the BLS. As more businesses invest in advanced networking technologies, they will need to hire professionals to plan, install and repair those networks.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A few careers related to computer network engineering could be as a computer system analyst, information security analyst, or network system administrator. These positions all require a bachelor's degree to start. As a network system administrator, you would be vital to the day to day operation of a company's network system. Information security analysis will keep you busy overseeing the security concerns of important data and information in a network. Work as a computer system analyst will have you analyzing a business's present network organization and making recommendations to upgrade the system for optimal efficiency.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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