Network Support Engineer: Role, Responsibilities & Salary

Network support engineers design and maintain network connectivity systems for organizations. Read to learn more about the role, responsibilities and salary potential of this position. Schools offering Cisco Network Systems degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Network Support Engineer at a Glance

Network support engineers are tasked with maintaining and improving computer network systems, including infrastructures for internet connectivity as well as internal networks for information sharing and collaboration. Depending on the size and needs of the organization, network support engineers may be tasked with maintaining a wide variety of network tools for different purposes, including local area networks (LAN), VPN tunnels, firewalls, and encryption tools. Take a look at the table below for a breakdown of their duties and other critical details.

Responsibilities Design, maintain, troubleshoot, and continuously improve network systems
Median Annual Salary (2019) $62,608*
Required Education Associate degree; bachelor's degree preferred
Certifications Not required, but certifications such as CompTIA Network+ could be helpful
Career Outlook (2016-2026) 8% growth (for computer network support specialists)**

Sources: *PayScale.com **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Responsibilities of a Network Support Engineer?

With the goal of providing seamless network performance and data security, network support engineers are constantly preventing, diagnosing, and resolving network issues. As the data sharing, storage, and internet connectivity needs of organizations continue to evolve, network support engineers must improve their systems to properly serve business needs.

Beyond regular maintenance and reliability testing to ensure proper performance, network support engineers are also tasked with installing and monitoring security protocols. They must protect data from potential theft by installing firewalls and virtual private networks (VPN); design processes for regular backups; and address security breaches as they happen. As the gatekeepers of an organization's network resources, they must also design and configure security settings for different access levels depending on each employee's responsibilities.

What Kind of Education Do I Need?

Because network support engineers must have a background in basic network connectivity and computer engineering principles, a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology or related fields is generally preferred. Beyond the technical skills and knowledge required to excel in the position, the development of management and leadership skills is also important (as many network support engineers are often in charge of managing technical staff). Though not required, a master's degree that combines the technical skills with staff-management and leadership concepts could also be helpful.

What Are the Skills Expected?

Depending on the needs of an organization, a wide collection of technical skills could be required, including effective network security measures, installation methods, and performance evaluation testing procedures. Beyond the technical aspects of the job, communication skills are also crucial, as network support engineers frequently interact with staff across departments. They are often tasked with presenting proposals for network improvements, training new staff on the use of their systems, and researching needs across departments.

Do I Need Any Certifications?

Though certifications are not required, they could be an important asset for career advancement. CompTIA.org reports that approximately 96% of IT hiring managers use certifications as effective screening tools, for they are proof that the candidates hold the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in a position. Many certifications such as CompTIA Network+ are available for careers in network management.

What Can I Expect to Make as a Network Support Engineer?

In 2019, PayScale.com estimated the median annual income for network support engineers at $62,424. The same study found that top earners in the top 10% percentile are making $88,842 or more per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that network support specialists will experience an 8% growth in job opportunities between 2016 and 2026.

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