Network Engineer Career Ladder

Aug 28, 2019

Network engineers design, implement, and maintain an organization's computer network. Their knowledge of computer languages, applications, and technologies place them in a strong position for advancement up the computer management ladder.

Career Advancement for Network Engineers

Network engineers, also known as network architects, are responsible for an organization's computer network from initial design to creation and maintenance. Network engineers also track usage data and stay current on new technologies and trends in order to prepare for future network upgrades. They are comfortable with a wide variety of network technologies, languages, and applications. A bachelor's degree in computer science or similar field, as well as 5 to 10 years of IT experience, are common qualifications that a network engineer brings to their field. This combination of skill, experience, and education can enable a network engineer to move up in their career within the IT field. Four advancement opportunities are examined here, including additional qualifications required for each.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2019)* Job Growth (Computer & Information Systems Managers; 2016-26)** Qualifications
IT Project Manager $87,311 12% Leadership & project management experience; possibly project management certification
IT Security Manager $104,914 12% Master's degree in computer science field; previous IT security experience
IT Director $118,098 12% IT management experience; possibly leadership or technical certification
Chief Technology Officer $156,978 12% IT management experience; possibly master's or doctorate in computer science field

Sources: *, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

IT Project Manager

A network engineer with proven experience in managing company projects could move into the role of an IT project manager. This leadership position requires an ability to direct and motivate other employees toward the project's goal. The ability to creatively problem-solve through issues, work within an assigned budget, and complete a project on time are other necessary skills for this role. In addition to a bachelor's degree in the computer science field, applicants are expected to have demonstrated management skills, several years of related experience, and possibly even a certification in project management.

IT Security Manager

The security of an organization's network is often in the hands of an IT security manager. These IT professionals remain up to date on possible computer system threats and the ever-changing ways to prevent them. They oversee the installation and maintenance of security software and direct IT staff in security-related projects. IT security managers may also be in direct contact with security vendors. Clear communication skills and an attention to detail are important. Applicants are expected to have experience in network security. Employers may also require a master's degree in the computer science field.

IT Director

Several years of leadership experience in the IT field can lead to a job as an IT director. An IT director is an advisor at the management level, providing guidance on technical needs and issues that arise within all company departments. They are responsible for company-wide software and hardware selection, testing, and deployment, and often work directly with vendors to ensure the best use of corporate resources. The ability to communicate complex, technical concepts to non-IT staff, manage a budget, and find creative solutions to a variety of issues are all necessary skills for an IT director. Applicants are expected to have several years of IT management experience; a professional certification in leadership or technology may also be required.

Chief Technology Officer

A network engineer who has moved up the ladder of IT management may have the opportunity to become a chief technology officer (CTO). A CTO is the member of an executive team charged with leading all technology efforts throughout the organization. A current knowledge of all relevant technology advancements, their uses, and possible implementation within the company are important for this leadership position. To this end, research and reporting are standard tasks for a CTO. A CTO must also be able to cast a vision for technology within the company, considering not only current but future needs. Several years of proven IT management experience, problem-solving, multitasking, and clear communication are necessary for a successful CTO. Educational requirements vary depending on the employer; a bachelor's degree may be suitable for some positions, while other employers require a master's or a doctorate in the computer science field.

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