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How to Become a Network Engineer

So you want to become a network engineer?  I have a lot of people asking that exact question – “How can I get into Networking?” or “How to become a Network Engineer?”.  I personally think that anyone who asks these questions and has a desire to learn about computer networks is doing themselves a big favor that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

There are many reasons to want to work as a network engineer: great pay, great companies, good benefits, or to simply work with great technology. In addition, it opens the door to the IT world and maybe you can find yourself learning further technologies such as Linux to be  a Operation Engineer or coding to be a Developer. When you work as Network Engineer, the exposure is huge since you’ll be working on the “plumbing” that allows an IT system to work.

According to PayScale, a network engineer in United States earns an annual salary between $44,858 – $98,042 (plus additional benefits).

But getting yourself into a position like this may not always be the easiest thing to achieve. In today’s market competition is fierce. In this post we will list some ways that may help you get that cool network engineering job and potentially boost your career.

 

Network Engineer Training and Certifications

The first and most direct way to easily get a job working as a network engineer is to do some self study and get a vendor certification like a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). Anyone who already has an IT certification knows these certification tests are not easy.  And Cisco tests are, in my opinion, the hardest tests out there.

The current CCNA test not only will test your book knowledge on the theory of computer networking, TCP/IP, and the OSI model, but will also test  your “practical knowledge” of actually performing the task that may be called upon you as a junior network engineer.

The one thing that set Cisco tests apart from other vendors are the router emulators. Router emulators are very common on the CCNA and are very realistic. For this reason people who pass a Cisco exam not just good test takers, they are know their stuff.  To pass the CCNA I would highly recommend starting with one of the great books on the CCNA.

Go the book store and find books that keep your attention and are easy for you to read (here our selection of best books about computer networking).  Next, invest in a practice exam like one from Boson. Test questions are worded very tricky and taking these practice tests will guarantee you getting the multiple choice stuff correct. Finally, you will need to work on your router skills.

Either purchase a router on ebay or download GNS.  GNS is a free router emulator that can help you immensely and best of all its free.  These three things combined will land you that certificate, they will increase your value in the work place, and will most likely get in the door to do some real hands on networking. Of course you still have to pass the interview 🙂

And talking about certifications, nowadays Cisco is not the only option anymoreJuniper Networks is gaining traction in the market and as a consequence Juniper experts are in high demand. You don’t need Cisco to be a great network engineer, You can become Juniper Networks Certified Associate – Junos (JNCIA-Junos) in a few weeks and unlock access to more advanced certification tracks.

 

On the Job Training

Sometimes poring over the Career Builder web site or the Monster job boards can yield you a nice selection of network jobs you may qualify for without having a certification.  These jobs will typically pay less however will offer the opportunity to learn and may provide training to advance yourself to get a CCNA or even superior certifications.

 

Self Study

For some people, the best way to learn about a new topic or field of interest is self study, intended as getting a course of some kind (e.g. books, audio, video, etc.) and wotking on it. We have a great article about the 10 top books for Network Engineers, check it out! For audio and video courses, a great resource is the evergreen Youtube which offers free content.

 

College

Colleges today recognise the demand for skilled I.T. people in the work place and have started to establish certification programs that will allow you to earn your CCNA or CCNP which will definitely launch you in the the networking hot seat.  The benefit of College programs is that these often qualify for grants and loans that may not otherwise be available.

 

Military

This option seems to be overlooked and is last on the list of where to find quality training, but really this should be one of the first on many peoples list.   The biggest problem is that working in the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marines is often misunderstood.   Each branch is significantly different and each has their own training and benefits.

Most people envision Hollywood movie footage of “Black Hawk Down” living in the dessert eating C-rations.  Of course those jobs, locations, and duties do exist,  however life in the military is far different and the educational benefits are tremendous!  The US military offers some great programs that will get your hands on some of the latest technology and networks that you can find in the civilian world.  No where else can you find a place that will immediately give you a paycheck, provide you with all the food you can eat, comfortable living quarters, new clothes and a world class education.

How to Become a Network Engineer: Passing the job interview

Get That Network Engineer Job!To help you jump-start your career,  we released our new eBook Get That Network Engineer Job!

What you’ll learn:

  • The Interview Process explained
  • The Types of interviews and how they differ
  • Pre-Interview Work you have to do
  • Soft skills questions to prepare
  • Technical Questions (with answers)
  • What to do After the Interview
  • Preparation checklist: Interview DO’s and DON’Ts
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Summary

There are lots of ways for motivated people to change their life, and land a job as a network engineer.  Doing so will allow you to make a good living and work with some awesome technology.  Getting there is up to you. Whether it be self-study, class-room training, college or the military, if you truly want to work as a network engineer there is a way.  You just have to do it, with passion and determination.

As Yoda once said - "Do or Do Not, There is no Try."how to become a network engineer

How to Become a Network Engineer
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About Joe

Senior Network Engineer, technology enthusiast, guitar and bass player. Joe Wilson is the creator of RouterFreak.com as well as other niche websites that can be found around on the Internets.

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213 comments

  1. Gedion zekariyas gebreeysus

    I have my ccna but where can i find a job that will have
    HELP LEARN AND GAIN MORE KNOWELEDGE?

    AND for those of u dat want to register for CCNA u can email me to get started. [email protected]

    2407553587

  2. hii i want to know what r d skilks i have to improved to job as fresher networking engineer nd how? plz mail d reply at [email protected]

  3. I recommend not using TestKing or Pass4Sure, as both provide answers to questions on the real exam and usually leads to people just memorizing the answers rather than learning the material on their own. Boson and a few others offer practice tests that are not directly pulled from the exam, and don’t break Cisco rules.

  4. I HAVE MY CCNA BUT WHERE CAN I FIND A JOB THAT WILL
    HELP LEARN AND GAIN MORE KNOWELEDGE?

    AND for those of u dat want to register for CCNA u can email me to get started. [email protected] or call mu numbers 09034434666/08035133561

  5. l have just finished my exams of ISC so what should I do to become a network engineer ???

  6. Hello. I want to become a Network Engineer but was wondering will majoring in Information Systems take me there? I was also wondering if Information Technology and Information System are the same. Am I able to get to work in the IT field (non-managerial) with a Information Systems degree? Thank you.

  7. I just like to be an networking engineer, I’ve no idea about it, I don’t have any certificate to prove, I just want to start, where can I start from?

  8. I HAVE MY CCNA BUT I FEEL LIKE I DONT KNOW ANYTHING. WHERE CAN I FIND A JOB THAT WILL HELP LEARN AND GAIN MORE KNOWELEDGE?

  9. Small correction, GNS is an emulator not simulator.

  10. hi sir i just want to conform whether they are jobs in networking field for freshers

    • Hi Gundiga you can check in our jobs page, there are many options

      • Hi, I’m recently out of college and on the job search. I’m currently just working a regular job and was thinking about joining the military to get administration training and experience. I have a bachelor’s in computer science and currently no certifications. I did take CCNA courses in college so I know some things I just need to refresh my knowledge to get a certification. Mostly I’m interested if you know anyone who joined and made a career out of the military. Specifically what branch and MOS they had. Short term need to pay expenses is currently an issue so the military seems like a good decision

  11. M in college. What subjects should I take to be a networking engineer

  12. Meant I don’t have a bachelors degree.

  13. I don’t a bachelors degree but I started a path to get my CCNA CCNP and CCIE are those enough to become a network engineer?

    • chris, Honestly if you have good knowledge you are on good path to start , you don’t need anything. as long as you understand what you dealing with and I know so many people who have Masters do nothing,. CCNP equals to Masters already if you qualify in all three Papers. CCIE is like PHD if you qualify with all Test along with LAB

      I have worked for Corporate companies for 6 years and now working for Corporate IT consultancy to build networks.

      I would suggest you first to join any company no matter how much they pay at least you gain experience from there you get a lead your self within a years.

      I have no Bachelor’s too :)but I make good buck’s

  14. I am a higher secondary passed, I am from Bangladesh.I Have completed CCNA (online certified) and completed CCNP (also got certified)recently can I apply for a networking job in us? or do I need more degrees like diploma in ‘computer hardware & networking’? what should I do?

    • Hi Sharif,

      I think that having those certifications is great, but nothing beats real life experience.
      In any case, I recommend you to go ahead and apply to all the jobs that interest you.
      In parallel you can continue with your education, but without trying you’ll never know how much is “enough”
      Good luck!

  15. Just got my CCNA. I recommend Odem’s ICND 1 & 2 books, a great simulator, and plenty of study time and hands on. I did for a year and fully understand all CCNA concepts. The best way always to learn is actually doing it! I wish all of you’ll good luck! I have become a Cisco switch & router freak! I love your site Joe! Thanks for all the good info. Now on to CCNP.

    • Hi Ryan,
      Do you mean this one?

      • Yes i do. But those will be obsolete after September 31. The new CCNA test begins which is a lot more of IPV6. Good luck to all. Wendell Odem does have his new ICND1 & 2 books out for the test on Amazon and a new simulator coming in October. I learned a lot from his books. Also Todd Lammile is right behind him in study material. Remember don’t just depend on one book. Use multiple study material. Thats what i did, but Odem’s books are the best in my opinion.

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