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Five Tips On How To Become A Network Engineer

How To Become A Network EngineerSo, you want to know how to become a network engineer? That’s great – the network engineering field can be enjoyable, high paying and challenging. You also have opportunities to move up in the field to other positions if you’re interested in that. But to do that, you need to start somewhere!

 

Where To Start – Degree Or Certifications?

This is a big question in the field of networking and IT in general – should I get a degree first or get a certification? This comes down to your personal preference and circumstances.

I think they are 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, Information Technology degree, or other degree. Getting a certification – either a vendor specific certification such as Microsoft or Cisco, or a neutral one such as CompTIA – is also important.

Ideally, you should have both – they both work together to give you a great amount of information to become a network engineer. However, I would say that the certification is more relevant to this particular field.

 

How To Become A Network Engineer – Experience Is King

The number one way to get and advance a career in networking and network engineering is hands-on experience. Nothing beats this. 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 the job you need experience for.

You may also have experience working on a home-based network. This is still better than nothing – it shows you know the basics of setting up and managing a small network.

 

Look For Entry-Level, “No Experience Necessary” Jobs

The way to break this chicken-and-egg type cycle of experience and job, and the answer to 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.

Look around your favourite job sites for network-related jobs that don’t need experience – they should specify that in the job description. They will most likely be lower paying than other jobs in the field, but that’s OK. You’re only really looking for them to get the experience – the money will come later down the track. They might be in places such as schools or universities which are both great places to start a networking career.

 

Get A Certification In Networking

Another great tip on how to become a network engineer is to complete a certification in the field. Several companies offer these certifications, and the main companies are Cisco, Microsoft and CompTIA.

Cisco’s CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) is a well-known, entry-level certification that can be taken with minimal on-the-job experience (but a lot of study!). Microsoft also offers MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) or MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) which have several branches for networking, and CompTIA’s Network+ certification is a vendor-neutral certification for the networking industry.

Certifications will give you some great knowledge in the field of network engineering, and will give you a boost when going for jobs – but employers usually prefer experience over certifications. If you don’t have experience, the certifications are a great way to start.

 

Work On Soft Skills

The final tip for becoming a network engineer is to work on your soft skills, the skills which aren’t technical or able to be taught like technologies. These skills will help you in any role you come across and will help you stand out from the crowd of other people in the industry. Communication skills, negotiating skills, problem solving, professionalism, time management, and other soft skills will help you in interviews, on the job, and eventually getting promotions!

 

I hope these tips have answered some of the questions you’ve had on how to become a network engineer. If you have anything to add, post it in the area below!

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  • http://www.networkingstudent.com Jason Crawford

    I passed my CCNA with lots of study because I have no experience in networking besides working on my own Cisco lab at home. Now I plan to get an entry level job as a network support person. I hope to get some hands on experience with a live network even if I only get access to “show” commands only. Thanks for your helpful article.

    • admin

      Glad to help! Congratulations on passing your CCNA as well!

    • James Sweeney

      How was the CCNA? I’m in a similar situation. I have no experience and am currently in marketing but want to make the career switch. I’m considering going for a Masters in Information Systems while working as a network support person. Does anyone have tips on how to make that kind of career switch when your undergrad degree was not in an IT-related field? Thanks!

      • admin

        What a great question! Switching from another career into IT is a common activity and can be quite difficult, depending on where you’ve come from! I think there’s so much to say on this topic, I’m going to write an entire post about it! I’ll link it here when I’m done.
        I think you should be using the skills you’ve learnt in marketing and enhancing those with the skills needed for your chosen IT field. If you want to move into networking, then you’d need some knowledge of the field as well as the technical knowledge of how things work. You can get this from certifications (such as the CCNA).
        What does everyone else think?

  • Lucky

    Interesting articles, but my case is that here in South Africa it is rare to get jobs that requires no experience, I’ve got MCITP ENTERPRISE ADMINISTRATOR Certification but I been looking for entry level job with no success

    • Lucky

      How Do I delete my comment/question since no ever replied?

  • james vincent

    I found this post rather heplful. I want to be a network engineer, but I dont know much about P.Cs and dont know anything about networking. Could you suggest the most basic introduction course to get the ball rolling? It’s been suggested that I start with CompTIA A+, But after reading up on things I find the CompTIA Network+ would be more relevant to what I want to do. So… Should I take ComptTIA A+ first? or is there another course before this?
    Thank You. James

    • admin

      Hi James,
      Thanks for your comment. Well done on making the decision to become a network engineer – it can be hard to work this out!
      Regarding the first step and which certification to take – both the CompTIA A+ and Network+ are useful certifications for someone looking to start in IT. The A+ is more focused towards PC basics and desktop computers (computers that people use, as opposed to servers or other hardware involved). The Network+ expands on this and is more about networking concepts.
      I would recommend that you get both. A very popular way to start in IT is getting the A+ first, and then the Network+. This should give you a great start into a potential career. You could alternatively look at the CCENT (provided by Cisco), but the A+ and Network+ might be more beneficial at this stage.

      Hope I can help!

      • James Vincent

        Thank you very much for the advice. I feel it has helped, and definatly know to start with the A+. I will be taking a more basic introduction course to computers, which will introduce me to the CompTIA A+. Then away I go. [Sorry I can’t think of the name of it right now.

  • waquar

    i am a student of b tech 3 rd year in c.s department,
    Prblm is that i m nt intetrested in programming or coding,
    So what are the diffent areas of scope related to c.s in future?
    Whethr netwrkng is gd 4 me?
    Or i wd prefr 4 dba or security system?

    • admin

      Hi Waquar, I assume your CS stands for Computer Systems? You say you’re not interested in programming but want to work in IT – that’s still OK, there are many jobs that don’t require programming. The areas you mentioned – networking, DBA or security are all non-programming jobs. DBA does require some knowledge of databases and the SQL language, so it’s related to programming in that respect. Networking is an option for you – is it something you enjoy at the moment in your course?

  • waquar

    thanks sir 4 ur advice,
    Sir i like subjects as operating system,computer organization,and very much addicted to graph theory,
    But doesnt lyk algorithm,
    I want to ask u ,which is more paying job programming or networking in india or abroad,in my family all peoples are wrking in programing but i hate that prgrmng,
    So except programng whch job is better in all aspects regarding to job promotion,salary,and future demandng.

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      Hi Waquar,
      That’s a hard question to answer. I think in the long term they are both in demand, but it’s hard to tell as technology is changing so quickly. Also, I don’t know a lot about the Indian job market. I think, as long as you do something you’ll enjoy, it will be satisfying – whether that’s programming, networking, or something else.

  • Asad

    I am a undergraduate student of IT. Please give me the road-map to became a network specialist….

  • Aubrey

    Am a south african citizen am doing my A+ n+ and ccna at boston,currently i have a higher certificate in i.t support services at rosebank college…do u thnk after graduating at boston wth a+ n+ and ccna,, wil get a networking job?

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      Hi Aurbey, I think that with A+, N+ and a CCNA you may be able to get a job in the networking field. Those certifications would be the minimum needed for the entry-level jobs. I would suggest starting with an entry-level or junior position, and after a few years your experience will help you get promoted.
      Good luck!
      Ben

  • richard

    this is a big issue with experience here in UK. i finish CCNA two years ago and did not find any entry job. i practice with my home lab and GNS3. Not finding job i continue to study CCNP and finally passed TSHOOT two months ago while studying MSc in Data Networks and Security. I will finish the MSc program in five months. I’m out going and very sociable, however i really find is difficult to understand why i’m not getting anything. Most jobs i see need experience. Ive been looking for entry level job to get a good CV which is somehow difficult. what do i do friends? I’m 34 years

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      Hmm that’s a tough one. It’s hard to get experience for a job when all jobs ask for experience.
      I would be looking to create your résumé that focuses on the positives – the fact you’ve done your CCNA and CCNP, and have almost finished your MSc. Focus on the skills that you might have – I’m sure you have better communication skills and work ethic than some of the junior people in the industry! Skills can be taught but attitude is harder – so try to use those as your strengths.
      Good luck!

  • Eddie

    I am just about to finish up my associates in Network Systems Management and will be getting my CCNA, CWNA, N+, and maybe A+ (why not? ;P) I have 1 year experience working as an IT Desktop support, what should i be marketing myself as and what jobs should I be looking for?

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      Hi Eddie,
      That’s a great start to your career – a couple of certifications as well as a year of experience. Well done! I think what you market yourself as depends on what field you want to get into. Based on your CCNA and CWNA, it seems you’d like to move into a networking support or administration role, possibly at the junior level (such as Junior Network Administrator). I would look up some job advertisements for the kind of roles you want, and tailor your application process to meet them.
      Focus on the positives – the fact you have both experience and certifications, and other positive traits you have. This should help with getting a job. Once you know what kind of role you want, you can work backwards and determine what’s needed.
      Hope it helps.
      Ben

  • Miguel

    Well well well, this is what I did ans so far is turning good on me.
    Start it with a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering, probably a wrong choice since ME is not doing good these days, always loved computers and everything related to it, I said to myself, let me take Comptia A+, took it pass it, got layed-off from a construction company I used to work, then decided to change jobs from ME to IT, got a entry position, thanks to A+, then the good part start. let me make some numbering now;
    1. CompTIA A+ (because is always good to have some general knowledge about computer)
    2. Network+ or CCNA (took CCNA and passed it, why CCNA? more name, more money but of course a lot more study)
    3. CCDA (took it pass it, why CCDA? I have general knowledge in computer and Network knowledge now, so now I want to Design a network using these previous two certification/knowledge.
    So far this is what I have and working as a System Engineering in a IT Consultant company.
    Guys, from A+ to CCDA only 3 years had passed. Tomorrow I am taking CXFF (my company need this for a Cisco Partnership thingy, no very important to us but always good if they pay for it).
    I am not saying for you guys t follow my steps but I did prepare for all this since the first day the lay-offs started (this is where my engineering came handy).
    Resuming….
    General knowledge (A+) , Network (CCNA), Design (CCDA), and my next one this year, Security (CCNA Security).
    With these you can do a lot for a company, expect no less from them…
    Thanks for reading!!!!!
    P.S: I not a brain or anything like but believe me that if I can do it you can do it,…..graduated with a 2.90 average.

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      What a great story Miguel! It’s always tough making a career change, but you’ve shown it can be done with a bit of study and perseverance!
      Glad to hear you’ve got a job in the IT industry and it’s worked out well for you.

  • http://gmail.com krish

    hi sir I am a computer science engineering student studying 2nd yr…I want to become a networking engineer…as u provided ..may I want to complete all the courses such as ccna,mcitp,comptia or else completion of only one course will value my skills?? plz reply me ….thq sir…

  • Vidur

    Sir,

    I have cleared my CCNA and my Checkpoint certification (CCSA) about 8 months ago and i havent got a call from any recruiters yet.
    1. is the the job market of network engineers in india bad ??
    2. Would an experience in BPO help in removing the tag of “FRESHER”?

    awaiting reply

    Thanks in advance
    Regards
    Vidur Ramnarayan

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      Hi Vidur, congratulations on finishing the CCNA and CCSA! To answer your questions:
      1. I’m not sure about the job market in India for this particular role. Are there many jobs on the job board websites for it?
      2. It may – I think the tag of fresher applies to recent graduates, so you would need some work experience to remove that.
      Could you start in a related role, such as support or network technician?

      Ben

  • ravinder kamidi

    I was completed MCA, and i have 2 yrs of exp in it field.Now i want to change it to networking side.Now i what i want to do please help me.

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      You’ve got an MCA and 2 years experience, well done. I think if you want to move into networking, you’ll need either experience or qualifications. Two years with an MCA may not give you that experience. I would suggest starting with some certifications for networking.
      The Network+ is generally the first one to get, but this may be below your experience level. If so, then perhaps have a look at the CCNA certification – it’s a good place to start for those looking to get into networking.

  • mathew

    hi,

    I am an ex BT telecoms engineer in the UK, i have worked in customers houses setting up routers and modems and some very basic IT knowledge, i want to know what is best way to pursue a career in IT, i eventually want to become a network engineer – (voice-switch) CCNA is what i have heard to be the best preferred vendor cert to get. I understand comptia + is a good place to start but i was thinking about going back to college and doing an IT BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary/Extended Diploma – Edexcel… this is a 2 year classroom course, is this recommended for someone with little or no experience looking to start a new career in IT??

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      Hi Mathew,
      You’ve got quite a few options there!
      I don’t know a lot about the IT BTEC diploma you mentioned so can’t really comment on that. To move into network engineering, I would also recommend the CCNA. The network engineer is more of a senior position, so if it’s what you enjoy doing, certifications are almost a must. Working through some of the Cisco certifications (CCNA, CCNP, perhaps even the CCDA) would certainly help.
      Get some experience in this field, even at a junior position, as it will help advance your career.
      Good luck!

  • roshan ghimire

    I have completed my academic Bachelors of Engineering in Computer and i am thinking to study Masters of Information System and then going into network field. Should I have to take some extra trainings or not? Please help.

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      Hi Roshan,
      Congratulations on completing the Bachelors degree! It depends on where in the network field you want to start. In most cases, a Bachelor’s degree is enough to start a career in the IT field. Some certifications may help, but you don’t need them right away if you have a degree.
      Have a look at some job openings for network positions in your area. Read what their requirements are, and see if you match them.
      Good luck!

  • Deepak

    I am about to complete my btech(ece) iam in my final semester ,and i want to pursue my career in networking which i ahave a little knowledge.so what should i do wheather to do ms in cse or go for any certifications.if i have to go for any certifications which one should i do first.

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      Hi,
      If you’d like to get into networking, it helps to have a relevant certification. I come from a software background, but I’ve learnt that networking careers need certifications more than software careers.
      I would suggest a Cisco or perhaps a relevant Microsoft certification.
      Have a look for some junior networking positions on job websites, and see what they are asking for. This should give you some idea as to what certification you’d need to do.
      Hope it helps.
      Ben

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  • Kiran james

    Hi,
    Excellent article.
    I’ve completed my btech in electronics and communication. I’m very much interested in networking,troubleshooting,security & all. I need to know the perfect path for me to achieve my goal as a network engineer. The courses which i should take one by one would be really helpful.

  • jay

    hi,
    i completed my btec in electronic n telecom, i did ccna certification. and tried to find a job, nothing helped, now doing ccnp, what else should i do? mcse or redhat? or both?will it be beneficial in future? i asked many of my friends about this, they said to stick to networking and some said to mcse and redhat. full confused. pls help me

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      Hi Jay,
      I think if you have the certifications and bachelor, then it’s a good start to getting a job. Do you know why you’re not getting a job? Perhaps the jobs don’t match up with your experience.
      A good way to find out what you can do next is to have a look for some job advertisements for what role you want, and see what the requirements are. If they need more experience, then you should look at a different role. But, if they suggest the Redhat or MCSE certs, or others, then you can look at getting those.
      Hope it helps.
      Ben

  • john

    Sir ,Basicaly im an electronics & communication eng, i desire to be a network engineer.i have two question..whether technical support engineer can become a network engineer without certification of CCNA,is CCNA very harder to be certified, As i’m a fresher i want to know more about it. whether the network engg job is so stressed as programing..please help on my queries

  • Vista

    hi every one.
    I’ve studied for CCNA and CCNP R&S,but i didn’t have the chance to be certified.
    I’ve worked as IT help desk for 4 years and by chance I found a job in a telecom company as transmission engineer.
    they have trained me and i’m working here for about 1 and half year,but I want to back to networking and i guess i should have study more than switching and routing to get a better job with good salary.but i don’t know where to start ,what to study how should I prepare my self for a better job in networking .
    could you please help me,give me some advice?