The world today operates largely due to the work of computers – often large networks of computers. Whether these computers are wired or wireless, information needs to travel through the network securely, accurately and efficiently. A network engineer degree is focused upon network planning, high level design, and a focus on software and hardware designs that are needed to solve complex problems with networking.

Coursework in a network engineer degree program includes information technology architecture, systems development and software development concepts.

What Is A Network Engineer?

A network engineer is a technology professional with the advanced skills to plan, implement and oversee computer networks that operate in support of data, voice, video and wireless network capabilities. The job title of network engineer and network administrator are often used interchangeably, but a network engineer usually has higher level responsibilities. The engineering aspect of networks often involves more design, planning and technical specifications. The administrative side is more about day to day operations and maintenance, troubleshooting and management.

Some of the common duties of network engineers are to design and implement configurations of networks; troubleshooting performance problems; configuring security systems including firewalls; and doing network monitoring. Network engineers usually will report to the CIO of chief information security officer.

Opportunity

Employment in all computer and information technology professions is rising quickly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states there will be a 13% increase in jobs in these occupations through 2026, which is faster than average when compared to all occupation.

All computer and information technology jobs, including network engineer, will add 557,000 new jobs in this time. It is expected more demand for these technology professionals will be because of more emphasis on cloud computing, collecting and storing big data and information security.

Career Paths

The most common career path with this degree is network engineer. A network engineer’s work is focused on the computer network design and implementation at his employer. Network engineers must have a high level of knowledge in many networking technologies, including routing, firewalls and cryptographic tunneling.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the employment outlook for computer network engineers and architects is bright, with 6% increase in job demand through 20206.

Demand for network engineers will rise as companies are increasing the size and complexity of their IT networks. As they design and build these networks, and also upgrade new ones, there will be opportunities for many network engineers. It is also anticipated that the expansion of healthcare IT will cause a large increase in job demand.

Network engineers and architects have 162,700 jobs in the US as of 2016. The biggest employers of these technical professionals are:

  • Computer systems design and related services: 26%
  • Telecommunications: 11%
  • Management of companies and enterprises: 7%
  • Insurance carriers and related work: 5%
  • Educational services: 5%

Salaries

BLS reports the median salary for network engineers is $104,600, with the top 10% earning more than $162,000. Salaries for various fields for network engineers and architects was:

  • Insurance carriers: $110,300
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $109,000
  • Telecommunications: $107,300
  • Computer systems design: $106,300
  • Educational services: $66,700

Online Degree Programs

Students who want to earn their network engineer degree online have many opportunities to do so. A good choice for an accredited, online program is the Bachelor of Science in Cloud and Systems Administration. This four year, online degree will provide you with the technical skills that you need to turn your passion and experience in technology into a career in network engineering and administration.

When you complete your online bachelor’s degree, you will not just have your degree. You also will have completed several important industry certifications such as Amazon AWS SysOps Administration Associate. Earning your certifications as you are earning your bachelor’s degree will provide you with the skills and credentials that will enhance your resume fast.

Key technical subject areas are:

  • Cloud Foundations
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Linux Foundations
  • Cloud Applications
  • Network and Security Foundations
  • Network and Security Applications
  • Business of IT Applications
  • Business of IT Project Management

Bachelor’s Degree

Getting a bachelor’s degree in network administration and engineering is the best path to secure your place in this growing field. You can earn a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Networking and Information Systems Security concentration from California College San Diego.

This program can be completed in 36 months and is designed to help you to get rolling in your IT career quickly. All of the computer science programs at this accredited university are focused on your technical career. Learning the basics about networking and information systems security will assist you in learning the skills and knowledge that you need to be employed in the modern job market. Subjects you will cover include server administration, computer network communications, information storage, database programming and security measures.

Students can complete this program at campuses in San Diego, National City and San Marcos.

Master’s Degree

To move to the top of the network engineering profession, it is recommended to earn your master’s degree. A great option for advancement is the Master of Science in Network Engineering and Security at Depaul University. This unique master’s degree delivers both practice and theory behind the maintenance and design of diverse network structures, including machine to machine and Internet of Things networks.

Students in this two year, campus based program have access to large lab facilities that use equipment from major manufacturers, such as Cisco and Juniper. Students get ample hands on training as they configure routers, switches and firewalls, and also learning how to secure networks and manage and evaluate their performance.

Admission Requirements

Typical admission requirements for a master’s degree in this field include:

  • 3.0 or higher GPA
  • GRE scores
  • Three professional or academic recommendations
  • Resume
  • Writing samples
  • Transcripts

Curriculum

Required courses for the master’s program at DePaul University include:

  • Voice and Data Network Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Computer and Network Systems
  • Introduction to LAN and WAN
  • Foundations of Network Technologies
  • Network Security
  • Converged Multimedia Networks
  • Telecommunications Practicum
  • Computer Networks and Data Systems

Financial Assistance

Want to earn your degree in network engineering? Then you may want to think about applying for these grants and scholarships. Also, remember to check with your school or program; there may be individual scholarships available there that can pay your way through school:

  • Brocade Technology Exchange Scholarship: Various amounts
  • CompTIA Certification Scholarship Award: Various amounts
  • Frank B. Gillespie Jr. Memorial Award: $1000
  • Infinity Network Solutions Continuing Education Scholarship
  • Juniper Network Engineering Scholarship: Various amounts
  • Kocher Technology Scholarship Program: $1000
  • Next Gen Technology Scholarship: $3000

Certifications

These certifications can be very valuable for people with a network engineer degree:

  • Cisco Certified Network Professional
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
  • Python
  • CCNA Cyber Ops
  • Citrix Certified Associate
  • VMware Certified Professional 6

Associations

Join these associations if you want to increase your career options in network engineering:

  • Network Professional Association
  • Network and Systems Professional Association
  • International Telecommunications and Network Engineering Association
  • IEEE Computer Society
  • Institute of IT Professionals
  • CompTIA

Obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree in network engineering will place you in a strong position for plenty of high paid work in the coming years.

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References

Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Henry is Editor-in-Chief of Business Student.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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