How to Become a Network Systems Engineer

Network systems engineers are instrumental to the creation of networks that run major corporations and government enterprises. The tasks of a network systems engineer often vary depending on a company’s needs and whether they work for a specific company or on a contract basis. Network systems engineers are highly trained professionals that usually come from within the industry and can usually expect good benefits and high rates of pay.

What is a Network Systems Engineer?

Bachelor's Degree
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

A network systems engineer is usually an individual with 5 to 10 years of experience in the networks industry, usually but not always as a network administrator. Network systems engineers concentrate on creating secure and functional networks and are at the higher end of the pay scale for network administrators, which goes up to $108,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are usually hired by larger corporations and companies with complex network designs. Networks systems engineers need to be current on all recent hardware and software developments.

Occasionally, a network systems engineer may remain in employment with a company to maintain a system. Usually, however, a network systems engineer will be called in on a contract basis or be contracted out through a company to upgrade a network or modify it if something has gone wrong. They may also be called upon to troubleshoot an existing network that isn’t working correctly. The position will often require a significant investment of time and will sometimes demand irregular hours.

What Does a Network Systems Engineer Do?

A network systems engineer will usually create a network plan on their own. Occasionally, they may work with a network systems architect. Once the network has been constructed they may use network administrators or network technicians to actually implement their plans. In a smaller company or on a smaller contract, an engineer may run cables and set up the routers and switches themselves. However, this isn’t usual.

A network systems engineer will usually be responsible for troubleshooting and testing the network after it is setup. This can often require late nights, as most system setups and testing needs to be done when a company is down for the day. Engineers will also often have to work directly with clients to ascertain their needs and make suggestions to them that are reasonable and within their budget. Often, an engineer may have to do additional research to determine the best choices for a client that will be cost-effective as well.

How Do You Become a Network Systems Engineer?

Most engineers will come from within the IT industry. Systems administrators or network administrators could potentially become network systems engineers with a combination of training, education and certifications. There usually are no entry-level network systems engineer positions; it is a professional position that requires experience within the industry. Since much of the work is done on a contract basis, a person can become a systems engineer through an IT firm or through building their own client base carefully.

Most network systems engineers will have a Bachelor’s Degree in an IT-related field. They will also usually have advanced certifications from Cisco, Microsoft or other similar agencies. Degrees are not strictly necessary if certifications are obtained, but a systems engineer does need to have one or the other.

How Does a Network Systems Engineer Advance?

A network systems engineer is already an extremely advanced professional. They can consider becoming a network architect or a systems architect with the right certifications and additional experience. Network architects make an average of $91,000 annually according to O*Net Online. Since an engineer works on a contract basis, they can charge more to their clients as they gain more experience and a larger client base. Finally, a network engineer can consider a move to a related field such as systems administration or a computer and information systems manager.

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