A Glimpse Into the Future of Network Engineers

This article was originally published on CareerBuilder.com on 9/26/2016.

Currently, network engineers make an average wage of $85,000 per year. They have demanding jobs that compensate them well, and they’re constantly expanding their understanding of networks, platforms, software applications, and other facets of their careers. If this sounds familiar, you’re likely a network engineer, and you might have some concern about your future in the industry.

Businesses Still Need Network Engineers

Some believe that automation will take over network engineers’ jobs, but the data doesn’t back up those claims. It’s true that automation will become a more predominant part of this industry, but network engineers will simply shift their approach to their work — and they might have to learn a few new skills.

In short, you enjoy excellent job security. If your job changes, you’ll roll with the punches.

In an interview for TechTarget, veteran network engineer Leon Adato points out that professionals in his field have constantly existed in a state of flux. Just 10 years ago, cloud computing didn’t exist, many people still used dial-up internet services, and 3G networks had just appeared for cell phone users. According to Adato, network engineering will change in the future, but it won’t displace the people who work in the industry.

Network Engineers Might Need to Learn New Skills

Marcos Hernandez, a network virtualization engineer, says that he’s already developing his software skills to meet industry demand. As more and more networks become automated, his job has shifted from manual labor into more creative work. Instead of creating line upon line of networking code, he’s working in languages like Java and teaching himself to program and code so he can keep up with the latest applications.

The IT industry has always involved periods of intense change. Tech engineers, for instance, once only worked as safety and quality assurance professionals, inspecting products and procedures to verify their validity. Now they’ve branched out into documentation and system administration support. Similarly, network engineers won’t go away — they’ll simply adapt to an ever-evolving landscape.

Say Goodbye to Complexity

At one time, network engineers slaved over network construction and configuration, but automation will relieve some of those menial frustrations. Professionals in this field can focus instead on simplifying the results for the end user. Businesses want to deliver the fastest, most efficient service possible to their customers, and their networks must support their goals.

To do that, they will need to hire people who understand the back end of networks. Network engineers don’t need to fear reduced job security; instead, they must figure out how their roles will change and what skills and knowledge they need to develop. As this next wave of change occurs,engineers’ jobs will become less complex and more results-based. For young network engineers in particular, this might serve as a welcome evolution.

Keeping track of your career’s future can help you plan for it. Consider taking classes in coding and programming now so you can meet tomorrow’s demands. If you stay ahead of the curve, you’ll gain additional job security and become more in demand.