Cisco Engineer: Job Description & Career Info

Learn about the work responsibilities of a Cisco Engineer. Discover what skills and education are required as well as salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition

Cisco engineers are a type of network administrator who specialize in networks built using Cisco products. Cisco engineers work for companies, governments, non-profits and any other entity that needs to build or maintain a large computer network. Common duties of Cisco engineers include designing and building networks, providing technical support and identifying and resolving recurring issues.

How to Become a Cisco Engineer

Required Education

While many jobs in network administration, including jobs for Cisco engineers, require a 4-year bachelor's degree in a field like information technology or computer science, some positions require only an associate's degree. Common courses in a 2- or 4-year program that will help prepare you to become a Cisco engineer include networking concepts, networking infrastructure, networking technologies, Windows client operating systems, Windows server operating systems and hardware installation.

Additionally, many employers look for candidates who are Cisco Certified Network Associates (CCNA), which validates that candidates can install, troubleshoot, maintain and configure a network; the certification must be renewed every three years and requires passing an examination, www.cisco.com.

Skill Requirements

Because Cisco engineers work as part of a team to install and support networks and their users, they must have good communication and interpersonal skills. Strong analytical skills are also critical for identifying, troubleshooting and solving problems.

Employment and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook for network and computer systems administrators, including Cisco engineers, is good; data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment in this field may increase 12% from 2012-2022. According to the BLS, network and computer systems administrators made median annual earnings of $72,560 in 2012.

Alternative Careers

Computer Network Support Specialist

For those who want to maintain computer networks and diagnose performance issues, becoming a computer network support specialist may be a good career option. Under the direction of a network administrator, these support specialists observe network activities and make sure all equipment and software is running properly. Although many duties are similar to what a network administrator does, some network support specialists may only have to earn an associate degree or take computer technology courses to qualify for employment. However, a bachelor's degree may be necessary for more technically advanced positions.

Based on BLS projections, job opportunities for computer network support specialists should increase 7% through the 2012-2022 period. In May of 2012, the BLS estimated that these computer workers earned a median annual salary of $46,420.

Computer Network Architect

If working on the design and set up of computer networks seems like an interesting job, consider a career in computer network architecture. Network architects select networking equipment that meets organizational needs in addition to setting up access and security processes, creating plans for future expansion, determining equipment layout and researching new advances in technology that may be beneficial.

To enter the profession, earning a bachelor's degree in information systems, engineering, computer science or a related field is essential, as is prior work experience in an information technology position. Some employers may additionally require an MBA, based on the complexity of an organization's technology.

As seen in BLS reports from 2012, approximately 143,000 computer network architects were employed in the U.S. and earned a median yearly income of $91,000. Employment growth of 15% is expected for network architects from 2012-2022, according to the BLS, and much of this growth will be in the healthcare, mobile and wireless technology industries.

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