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What Does a Network Engineer Do?

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In an increasingly digitally-focused and connected world, businesses rely on technology and computer communication like never before. As such, it is no wonder why so many prospective students wish to become a network engineer. If you’ve ever wondered, “What does a network engineer do?” then you’re in the right place.

We’re here to share the network engineer job description, as well as the educational requirements to become a network engineer. We will also look at how network engineering certificate programs can make all the difference in the profession.

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Who’s a Network Engineer?

A network engineer is a technical professional who is responsible for planning, implementing, and monitoring computer networks. These computer networks enable wireless network services (wifi), in-house voice, and data.

In a workplace hierarchy, a network engineer will often oversee the role of a network administrator, even though the two titles tend to be used interchangeably. This is also why it’s typical that a network engineer possesses more education than a network administrator.

Network engineers have executive-level responsibilities as they plan and design technical specifications. On the other hand, network administrators are in charge of the day-to-day maintenance that keeps the networks running as the engineer planned them.

What Does a Network Engineer Do?

With the clear distinction between the roles of a network engineer and network administrator, let’s dive a bit deeper into what it is that a network engineer does.

This way, you can discover whether or not this could be your calling.


The first job of a network engineer is to set up and configure the networks, including the hardware that powers them. For example, this includes installing routers, servers, WAN accelerators, and more.


Once everything has been installed and configured, network engineers are also responsible for maintaining the networks. When an issue arises, it’s up to them to troubleshoot the problem. They’ll also consistently make updates to systems.


Network engineers may work alongside third-party vendors to ensure that the network and hardware is efficient and working as quickly as possible.


Last but not least, security is always a priority when dealing with technology. Network engineers handle firewalls and antivirus software to protect the network. They also back up data in the event of a breach.

Educational Requirements for a Network Engineer

Network engineers are highly trained and require tailored knowledge to do their job right. Not only do they have to have foundational knowledge, but they should continuously be learning and evolving to stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements. And, as you probably know, technology advances exponentially, so it’s a never-ending learning journey.

Here’s a look at what’s required to begin working in this role:


Network engineers need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Majoring in computer science, computer system engineering, information technology or a related field is the best bet to prepare oneself. Additionally, network engineering is a constantly evolving field. As such, it’s recommended for network engineers to continue their education over time. A great way to do so is by enrolling in a network engineering certificate program. Earning a Master of Science in Information Technology or MSIT from UoPeople can also be highly beneficial to gain the knowledge needed to excel in this field.

On-the-Job Training

With their degree and academic experience, network engineers have the skills and knowledge they need to get an entry-level job. When they first enter a company, they’ll spend some time being briefed about the systems and networks. The company may also provide job training and development opportunities.


There are some positions that will also require professional certifications. For example, these can include CompTIA Network+, Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), to name a few. You could also consider University of the People’s fully online and tuition-free undergraduate certificate programs in Computer Science. 

Network Engineer Specializations

In pursuing a career as a network engineer, you’ll come across the option to specialize in certain topics. For example, these include:

Cloud Networking Architect

Most companies are now relying on cloud services rather than having to host everything on-premise or in-house. Cloud networks provide greater access, stronger security, and more cost-effective alternatives for the business. As a result, there are network engineers that specialize in cloud networking as they learn everything there is to know about hybrid cloud environments, cloud migration, troubleshooting, and more.

Wireless Network Engineer

Wireless network engineers know the ins and outs of wireless equipment. They do their best to minimize downtime and keep systems running as smoothly as possible. Their work includes installation, configuration, and maintenance.

Network Security Specialists

With the rise of computer networks and cloud technology, cybersecurity threats are on the rise. Network security specialists are the heroes who don’t wear capes but do protect against hacks and breaches. They assess, prevent, and resolve threats to ensure that systems are protected.

Online Network Engineer Certificate Programs

Did you know that you can increase your network engineering knowledge and stay up-to-date with the latest in the industry by enrolling in online network engineering certificate programs?

In fact, the University of the People recently announced one of our newest certificate programs in this field! Students get to attend our institution which is tuition-free and accredited. Since everything takes place online, you can set your own schedule and learn at your own pace.

This way, you can always stay one step ahead and remain a competitive candidate for any network engineering job as you’ll have the latest skills and knowledge.

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Closing Thoughts

As per Indeed, network engineers can expect to earn an average salary of $89,949 per year in the United States. Besides the lucrative job opportunities, network engineers get to apply their problem-solving, technical, and communication skills within a business environment to support companies.

In this high-level position, network engineers often work with a lot of autonomy as they get to plan out and design network systems. They can continuously monitor and improve their work, with the help of network administrators and other personnel within IT teams.

You now know the answer to: “What does a network engineer do?” The next big pending question is: Is becoming a network engineer for you?