How to Get a Job as a Network Engineer | 5 Tips

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Network engineers design, administer, and optimise computer networks for businesses. Learn how you can get the education you need to get started as a network engineer.

[Featured image] A network engineer sits in front of their computer workstation smiling at the camera.

Network engineers play a key role in helping individuals and organisations maintain and improve their communication systems. Because of their important expertise, the demand for network engineers is high in many industries. As digitalisation continues to grow in the UK, many forward-thinking, technologically-savvy individuals are turning to this exciting career for its diverse responsibilities and expanding job prospects.

Let’s take a closer look at what this high-paying career involves and how you can get started. 

What is a network engineer?

Computer network architects and engineers design and build data communication networks and monitor network systems. These could range in size from a connection between a couple of offices to an intricate cloud infrastructure serving a multinational company. 

Network engineers are often also responsible for protecting these networks from all sorts of external threats—from phishing schemes to ransomware to denial-of-service attacks—with a process known as network security. 

At smaller companies, you may be responsible for both architecture and security. Working in larger companies often means specialising in one area of network engineering, such as architecture, security, or administration.

Network engineer salary

According to the UK National Careers Service, Network Engineers can expect an average annual salary ranging from £21,000 to £52,000, depending on experience [1]. However, individual salaries will depend on the company and industry you work for, where you’re located, and your job responsibilities.

Tips for getting a job as a network engineer

If you enjoy working with computers and solving problems, then a career in network engineering could be a good fit. Here are some tips for starting your career in the field.  

1. Build foundational knowledge. 

Most network engineering jobs require at least a university degree as an entry-level requirement. If you are looking for a degree that will prepare you with a relevant background consider concentrating on the following subjects:

  • Network engineering

  • Computer science

  • Electronic engineering

  • Network security

  • Software engineering

Taking courses in maths, electrical engineering, and physics will also help you build the quantitative skills needed to perform tasks on the job. To apply for a degree, students typically need 1 or 2 A levels for a foundational degree and 2 to 3 A levels for a degree.

For those without A-levels, working in an IT apprenticeship can be a great way to gain relevant experience and make connections in the field. Typically, 4 to 5 GSCEs at grades 9 to 4 are required to enter into an apprenticeship. More advanced apprenticeships can typically be sought with A levels or additional coursework in maths.


2. Start with an entry-level role. 

Network engineers often have several years of experience working with IT systems. To gain relevant experience and build your technical skills, consider starting with an entry-level role in IT support, network cable installation, or digital and technical solutions. An apprenticeship in these areas, starting as a network technician, is also a potential route to a career in network engineering.

3. Learn relevant skills. 

Network engineers typically require a wide range of skills to be able to solve a variety of technical problems. The following are some skills that you should be knowledgeable of: 

  • Network security

  • Information architecture

  • Malware protection

  • Firewall installation

  • Data analysis

  • Computer infrastructure 

Having these skills may help you think critically and develop comprehensive solutions for the role. While many of these skills can be built through experience, taking a relevant course or certification is a great way to gain structured knowledge and ensure you have a deep understanding of the field. 

4. Continue learning new programs. 

New technologies and systems emerge frequently in this field, so learning about the latest programs can help you be successful in this field. Whilst it’s not always necessary that you know how to code to work as a network engineer, learning a programming language or two can increase your skill set and help you pick up new technologies.

5. Get certified. 

Some companies require that their network engineers and architects are certified in the products the company uses. Check job descriptions for the types of positions you’d like to apply to learn about what’s required. Vendor-neutral certifications can validate your skills to potential employers.

Many companies recognise Cisco Certified Network Associate certifications and Professional CompTIA Network certifications, making these desirable choices when entering into this industry.

Get started with Coursera

If you’re interested in becoming a network engineer, start building job-related skills in less than 6 months. Consider completing a Google IT Support Professional Certificate on Coursera. This programme covers how to perform common IT support tasks, provide comprehensive customer support, and use popular systems such as Linux and Binary Code. With this certification, you can look for your first IT position, or build on these skills to move into more advanced IT and network support positions.

Article sources

  1. National Careers Service. “Network engineer,” Accessed on October 26, 2022.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.