Network engineers are the backbone of the computer infrastructure of a company. Large companies are able to employ many network engineers, while smaller ones often need to hire a consulting group. These engineers update a computer network and fix problems whenever they arise. If you want to become a network engineer, you need a love of computers as well as terrific problem-solving skills.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Bachelor's degree in computer engineering or computer science.
Study a computer-related field in college. Despite the name, network engineering doesn't require an engineering degree. You could also study a completely different major and minor in information technology.
Get a job at your university's office of information technology. Most large schools hire student IT support to work in both classroom and dorm environments. These jobs generally require 1 to 2 years of computer-related study and are a great way to build your resume.
Learn to use all different kinds of operating systems. Most network administration computers use a different operating system than the office computers and company laptops. You'll need to be familiar with all of them in order to become a network engineer.
Look for an internship with the IT department of a company or with a computer consulting firm. The number of students majoring in computer-related fields is growing, so you will need experience to help you stand out from the pack.
Work on your communication skills. If you become a network engineer, you'll often have to work with people who aren't as tech-savvy as you. You should learn to explain computer problems in straightforward language. Consider taking an acting, improv or speech class to hone your communication skills.
Tips and warnings
- Some people are able to become network engineers without a college degree. These people have innate computer skills, but they are in the minority of network engineers.
- Be prepared to describe your problem-solving skills when you interview for network engineer positions. Employers realize that many computer workers learn skills as needed, and they look for employees with the ability to adapt to a variety of situations and problems.
- You can get involved with designing new network equipment at some companies, but these positions usually require advanced degrees.
- Network engineers often work different schedules from the rest of the company. Engineers often come into work late and stay into the evening so that they can work on the network without upsetting other employees.