Network engineer jobs usually have a massive set of responsibilities, which is why the typical network engineer salary tends to be high. If you’re interested in a career in the field, it’s worth asking how education, experience, and skillsets all tie into compensation.
According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, network engineers are in high demand (147,448 job postings over the past 12 months), with a projected growth rate of 6.5 percent over the next 10 years. The job will only get more complex, requiring that network engineers keep their skills cutting-edge if they want to stay in demand. For example, if you’re tasked with building scalable network architecture in the cloud, you’ll need to know how to smoothly handle massive, occasionally unexpected increases in traffic (and you’ll definitely be asked about such things in network engineer interview questions).
Threats to networks also change constantly, requiring that network engineers keep their cybersecurity skills high (and awareness of those threats relevant). Let’s dive down into the particulars of a network engineer salary:
What is a network engineer’s average salary?
The ever-helpful Burning Glass tells us that the median network engineer salary is $100,909. That’s noticeably higher than the technology industry average of $94,000 in 2019, as estimated in Dice’s annual Salary Report. Those in the upper ranges of the professions can make quite a bit more.
The Dice Salary Report plugged the average network engineer salary at $89,596 in 2019—still high, but not quite as high as Burning Glass’s numbers, due to differing methodology. One thing the Dice data noted: network engineer is a rapidly growing profession, salary-wise, which is great (salaries rose 4 percent between 2018 and 2019, for example).
Do network engineers get paid well?
As you might expect, the average network engineer salary rises with experience. Those with more than nine years of experience can usually expect to comfortably make six-figure salaries, and that’s before you throw in other perks and benefits, such as stock options or expense reimbursements:
Education also has an impact on salaries:
What are the most valuable skills for a network engineer?
The following chart shows some of the specialized network engineering skills that pop up frequently in job postings. It’s also worth noting that any job will demand you not only possess a cluster of technical skills, but also “soft skills” such as communication and teamwork. Network engineers must interface on a pretty consistent basis with executives, teammates, and those in other divisions.
Do I need a degree to become a network engineer?
According to Burning Glass, some 85 percent of network engineering jobs ask for a bachelor’s degree, while very few ask for any kind of advanced degree. That’s good news for aspiring network engineers who don’t necessarily want to spend extra years earning a master’s degree or PhD. It also means that, to land a suitable network engineering role, you’ll really need to demonstrate to employers that you have the right mix of skills and experience.
In terms of those skills, a number of employers ask that their network engineers possess certain certifications. Here are the ones that tend to pop up in job postings with relative frequency:
As you can see, security-related certifications are a very big deal, and with good reason: It’s one of the most crucial aspects of your typical network engineering position. Employers want to feel comfortable with your cybersecurity knowledge, and certifications are a straightforward way of demonstrating that.
It’s important to make sure that you can display all your skills that will put you ahead of the competition on your network engineer resume.