This document is intended for individuals who are new to networking and want to become network engineer. This can also be useful for network engineers who have been doing networking for a few years, so they’re not beginners but they certainly want to make the next steps in their career. We will try to provide some pros, cons, tips and suggestions for becoming a network engineer in the IT field. I’m doing network engineering for the past 13 years. I’ve worked on network designs, deployments, and support for companies of all sizes from small to very large. I have worked in many industries such as financial, service providers, non-profits and government. And I continue to work in these industries and business sizes across the united Kingdom.
Why do you want to become a Network Engineer?
You probably have heard that there is a great demand for I.T jobs in the UK, and that jobs in the networking field are in even greater demand. Well it is true that skilled network engineers not only attract higher paying jobs but there is continued growth and development in this field. But this is only true for skilled network engineers, you may be certified on a number of vendor technologies, however, paper certified does not necessarlity translate to experience or skills. So please always bear in mind this distinciton.
Many people in I.T will get their hands in many different things; they do a little bit of servers, little bit of security little bit of networking. We all do that but you need to figure out what is your area of expertise. For example for me my area of expertise is networking and kind of further can be routing & switching and a little bit of security. You want to ensure that you know the path you are taking will take you to your goal which can then lead to another goal, such as if you take the path of becoming CCNA certified you can then top it up with CCNP in the filed of your choice.
Complete beginners can become Network Engineers too
If you want to know how to become a network engineer, we have got it covered for you. The network engineering field can be enjoyable, high-paying and challenging. You also have opportunities to move up to other positions if you’re interested, but to do that you need to start somewhere. This is a big question in the field of IT in general and more so for networking. Should I get a degree first or should I go for certification? This generally boils down to personal preference and circumstances. In my opinion they’re both important; the IT degree is general and should provide you with a larger range of skills in the IT industry. Whether it’s a Computer Science degree or an Information Technology degree or other related degree. And getting certification either vendor-specific certifications; such as Microsoft or Cisco or a vendor neutral one such as CompTIA is also important and can bring you to the top of the list when it comes to shortlisting candidates for interviews.
Degree or Certification?
Ideally you should have both as both work together to give you a large skills-set and great amount of information to become a good Network Engineer. However, I would say the certification is more relevant to this particular field. The number one way to get an ahead of the game and advance your career in network engineering is hands on experience, nothing beats experience. Experience working with networks of all types can be useful. On-the-job experience is invaluable, but it can be hard to get experience without a job, and to get a job you need experience. You may also have experience working on home based network, this is still better than nothing. It shows you the basics of setting-up and managing a small network. The way to break this chicken and egg type cycle of experience and job and the answer of how to become a network engineer is to find a job that you don’t need experience for. This will be some kind of entry-level job in the field of networking or network engineering. It doesn’t need to be specifically a network engineering role; it just needs to be related to that field. So have a look around your favourite jobs portal for network related jobs that don’t need experience; this normally is specified within the job description. They would most likely be lower-paying than other jobs in the field, but that’s okay; you are only really looking for them to get the experience, money will come later down the track. Such jobs might be in places such as schools or universities, which are both great places to start a networking career.
Yet, another way to get started is to complete a certification in the field. Several companies offer these certifications that I mentioned before and the main companies are Cisco, Microsoft and CompTIA. Cisco CCNA is a well-known entry level certification that can be taken with minimal on-the-job experience, but it’s a lot of study. Microsoft also offers the MCITP, and the MCTS which have several branches for networking. And the CompTIA Network+ certification is also a vendor-neutral certification for the networking industry. I believe at the time of this write-up, the MCITP for Microsoft has been discontinued, but there are other ones that are available. Certifications will give you some great knowledge in the field of network engineering and we’ll give you a boost when looking for jobs. But employees usually prefer experience over certifications. However, if you don’t have experience, certifications are a great way to start.
What is the actual job role of a Network Engineers?
The one thing to understand about not just Networking or desktop Support is understanding the expectations; anybody who wants to get into I.T or information technology should understand that there are certain things you have to expect from this profession. First you will spend the first part of your life in this field with a operational and support roles; what that means is that something is broken and you have to fix it. And this could happen at 3:00am in the morning, it could happen at 5:00 p.m. on Christmas day, it all depends. That’s one of the things that you have to expect in this role, it’s going to happen. And what your roles is going to be is an operational and support role for fixing issues. But also getting your hands involved with configuration and a little bit of deployments a racking in terms of data centers. In terms of IT you’re always learning. IT and technology always changes, therefore you have to always be learning just because you know OSPF inside and out or BGP for example doesn’t mean that that’s going to remain the same. There are new VPN technology such as GET VPN or DMVPN which are making VPN connectivity more robust and dynamic. So there is always a need to learn further.
The final tip I have is to work on your soft skills, the skills which aren’t technical or able to be taught by technologies. These skills will help you in any role you come across, and help you stand out from the crowd of other applicants. For most jobs in the industry communication, negotiation, problem-solving, professionalism, time management and other soft skills will help you in interviews, on the job and eventually getting promotions. It is these soft skills that will mean that once you have landed a job, how well your fare in comparison to your peers who are virtually doing the same job as you.