Skip to content

Become a Network Engineer

Become a Network Engineer 

If you’ve never considered becoming a Network Engineer, now may be the time. With previous computer or networking experience under your belt (or an interest in getting some), a career in computer network engineering may be right up your alley. If you’re a Veteran, student, or career changer with a strong aptitude for organization, communication, and problem solving, you already have much of what it takes to be successful as a Network Engineer.  

Outlook and Opportunities 

Our world continues to become more interconnected and technology reliant every day, which means the opportunities to build a lucrative and satisfying career in information technology (IT) are constantly growing. IT employers will add more than 600,000 new jobs in the US by 2030. When you consider that and compare to the median annual wage for other occupations, salaries for computer and IT jobs average more than $30,000 higher.  Pursuing an IT career sounds like a pretty smart move! 

Network Engineers earn an average salary of $90,379 per year, and for good reason. The role is absolutely critical to the success of companies and organizations of every size.  

Network Engineers Are In Demand 

The backbone of every organization is information and success depends in large part on the organization’s ability to collect, use, and distribute that information–files, programs, and all manner of digital data. In an age when this data is viewed, shared, and transferred by individuals and entities literally across the globe–and the expectation is that it happens within minutes, if not seconds–the need for efficient and reliable computer networks is key. Network delays, outages, and unpredictability are simply unacceptable and  costly.  

Staying On Top of Emerging Technologies is Key 

Cloud computing, big data, information storage, wireless capabilities, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, cybersecurity–technology is moving fast and changing the way everything is done. As a Network Engineer, it’s YOUR job to stay on top of new and emerging technologies and make sure your employer doesn’t fall behind. 

That’s why organizations rely so heavily on Network Engineers with the right technical skills and training–to design, implement, maintain, troubleshoot, and upgrade the computer networks that keep them up and running and doing business. 

Veterans and Career Transitioners with Technical Expertise + Soft Skills are Highly Sought After 

Professionals with the right technical skills and knowledge are in high demand but in short supply–that means plenty of opportunities with compensation that pays for your expertise. 

You’ll need to bring more than just technical know-how to the table. You’ll also use the “soft skills” that Veterans and career transitioners often have that are absolutely essential for Network Engineering roles such as project management, research, coordination and communication, and critical thinking. Again, employers are seeking well-rounded people like you for their most important IT roles! 

You’ll enjoy job security, interesting challenges, opportunities to shine, competitive salaries, and the chance to work with the latest technology. There’s a lot to enjoy about being a Network Engineer. 

What Do Network Engineers Do Day to Day? 

In your Network Engineering role, you might do a wide variety of things, for example: 

  • Design network layouts 
  • Install and configure servers and workstations 
  • Monitor and improve network performance 
  • Create technology budgets
  • Suggest and implement new technology into existing networks 
  • Work with equipment vendors and contractors 
  • Upgrade, test, and troubleshoot systems 
  • Manage antivirus software and perform security checks

As a well-trained Network Engineer, you may be asked to perform many different tasks, and with the right knowledge base and experience, you’ll be invaluable to your employer, no matter what they throw your way! 

How Do You Become a Network Engineer? 

The traditional path to becoming a Network Engineer might include earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a field like computer science, information systems, information technology, computer engineering, or even network engineering. Some roles may require a master’s degree. Senior-level positions may require 5 to 10 years of experience working in a computer- or technology-related role. 

Employers No Longer Require Traditional Degrees 

When it comes to technology, things move fast. The power and capabilities of the newest systems and products are increasing, pushing “older” systems into obsolescence more quickly. Network Engineers thrive when they are quick learners and proactive problem solvers. 

Future-focused organizations understand this and often seek out outstanding individuals with appropriate network engineering certifications rather than prioritizing candidates with advanced degrees.  

How to Land a Job as a Network Engineer 

As you explore Network Engineer job openings in your area, you may notice that the roles and requirements vary from company to company. Top employers all need Network Engineers, but they might call them network administrators or network architects, and the specific skills and certifications they ask for in the job postings might leave you feeling a little confused. Don’t worry–we’ve got you covered.  

Learn the Fundamentals and Gain Certifications 

Here are the fundamentals and skills you’ll need to confidently step into just about any network engineering position and hit the ground running: 

  • Cloud computing for managing on-demand computer system resources, data storage, and computing power 
  • CompTIA Network+ in establishing, maintaining, and troubleshooting essential business networks. 
  • CompTIA Linux+ for configuring, monitoring, and supporting Linux servers. 
  • Python scripting for developing websites and software, automating tasks, and writing and executing program commands. 

You’ll also need certifications that will make you a standout to employers including: 

  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner 
  • CompTIA Certified Professional – Network+ 
  • CompTIA Certified Professional Linux+ 

How to Become a Network Engineer – Four Potential Training and Certification Options

There are several pathways for obtaining the necessary training and certifications, but they are NOT all created equal. As you evaluate your options, be sure to think about how much a program costs and the length of the program before you start working and earning. Consider, too, which programs may be paid for through the VA–this benefit might be a game-changer for you! 

4-year Colleges and Universities 

Arguably the most “traditional” route for obtaining an IT education, unless you’re pursuing a professional goal that requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree, this may be a longer and more expensive road than makes sense for your situation. 

Pros: Knowledge and prestige of earning a bachelor’s degree.  

Cons: Instruction is primarily textbook-based, focused on technical skills, and the pace can feel slow. Some programs may be cost-prohibitive. Real-world technology developments might outpace the program curriculum. No meaningful hands-on experience until internship which may be unpaid.  

2-year Community and Technical Colleges 

A traditional educational route that’s shorter than pursuing a 4-year degree, but still might be more time-consuming than is practical for your goals. 

Pros: Shorter overall instructional time and less expensive than 4-year colleges and universities.  

Cons: Instruction is mostly textbook-based, focused on technical skills, and can feel slow. Real-world technology developments might outpace the program curriculum. No meaningful hands-on experience until internship which may be unpaid.  

Certificate Only Programs 

This pathway is likely the least efficient way to get the knowledge and skills needed to become a highly qualified network engineer candidate. The short, fast-paced programs may seem the most efficient unless you understand that they’re NOT designed to provide the comprehensive instruction and practical hands-on skill development required by in-demand employers like Amazon and Microsoft.  Assess these programs carefully before signing on the dotted line. 

Pros: Can be an efficient way to learn a new skill to add to your resume. Programs are shorter and focused. 

Cons: Narrowly focused instruction that is not intended to prepare you for the job role.  

Registered Apprenticeship or Pre-Apprenticeship – The Best Pathway for Veterans and Transitioning Military 

A Registered Apprenticeship is an ideal option for Veterans and military career transitioners because it provides instruction AND structured, on-the-job, skill-based training. Once you have completed an apprenticeship, you will be granted your journey-level worker’s card through the U.S. Registered Apprenticeship approval system. 


  • The cost is typically covered by VA funding, making the entire training affordable for Veterans. 
  • Learning and training are hands-on and competency-based, giving you real-world, project-based experience. 
  • You earn sooner and get paid benefits. For a registered apprenticeship When you complete training, you transition to paid on-the-job training. Respected companies like Amazon rely on Apprenti and TLG Learning’s Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship programs because they know they benefit from selecting candidates from a pool of highly motivated professionals who are ready to step into the Network Engineer role and hit the ground running.  

Cons: Competition for acceptance into apprenticeship programs can be fierce.  

Comparing Your Network Engineering Education and Training Options 


Certificate Only Programs 

2-year Community or Technical College  

4-year College or University  

Registered Apprenticeship  

Time to complete  

8 – 24 weeks  

2 years  

4 years  

14-17 months  

Training cost  

Free to $26,000 

$3500 annually (average in-district price)  

$9500 annually (average in-state price)  


Timeline for getting paid  

Depends on program length and paid or unpaid internship (these are not apprenticeships)  

2+ years, depending on paid or unpaid internship  

2 to 4+ years, depending on a paid or unpaid internship  

18 weeks, including benefits  

What is taught, and how  

Focus on specific topics vs.  instruction across the breadth of skills needed to step into the role of network engineer for a company or organization.  

Textbook-based learning of technical skills; minimal hands-on learning until internship or job.  

Textbook-based learning of technical skills; minimal hands-on learning until internship or job.  

Well-rounded, intensive IT curriculum with hands-on learning of networking fundamentals, essential Linux skills, Python scripting for Network Automation Cloud computing, and business and career skills. Courses are taught like A-School after basic training. The apprenticeship includes 1-year on-the-job paid training.  


The Ideal Pathway for Veterans: Apply for an Apprenticeship with TLG Learning and Apprenti  

Pursuing a career as a Network Engineer through a Registered Apprenticeship has numerous clear advantages over the other more costly and more time-consuming pathways. If this sounds appealing to you, keep reading to learn about TLG Learning and Apprenti’s Apprenticeship program. 

Get Classroom Training Plus On-the-Job Experience 

There are two parts to the apprenticeship program once you are accepted: 

First, you’ll complete 13 weeks of practical classroom training from TLG designed to keep you engaged while building your foundational skills and knowledge.   

Second, you’ll get real-world experience during one year of on-the-job training with your new employer. 

Apprenticeship Includes Placement with a Premium Employer 

TLG is a training provider for the Apprenti program, and Apprenti has relationships with employers who use the program to bring in apprentices for on-the-job training. For more than 25 years, TLG IT Careers has placed aspiring candidates with premium companies and government agencies such as these: 

  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Accenture
  • T-Mobile
  • Schneider Electric
  • IBM
  • JP Morgan
  • Watchguard
  • Oracle

These are just some of the companies TLG IT Careers partners with. Our goal is to find the right fit so our students and partners enjoy productive, satisfying, long-term relationships. 

Network Engineer Application and Apprenticeship Process 

The apprenticeship program pathway has five steps: 

Step 1. Complete an online application 

Step 2. Take the Apprenti Aptitude Assessment 

Step 3. Interview with Apprenti, TLG, or a hiring partner 

Step 4. Learn the technical fundamentals during 3 to 5 months of instructor-led training 

Step 5. Train on-the-job with a premium employer 

Acceptance into the program is competitive, but don’t let that stop you from getting started! There are two starting points for applying: 

Option 1: Apply with Apprenti 

Apply for apprenticeship with Apprenti at  

Next, you’ll take the Apprenti Aptitude Assessment.  

Then, you’ll either interview with Apprenti and a hiring partner OR you’ll interview with TLG. 

If you’re accepted, you’ll enjoy 3-5 months of instructor-led training followed by 12 months of on-the-job training. 

Option 2: Apply with Amazon 

Apply for apprenticeship with Amazon at 

Next, you’ll take the Amazon Assessment.  

Then, you’ll interview with Amazon. 

If you’re accepted, you’ll enjoy 3-5 months of instructor-led training followed by 12 months of on-the-job training. 

Your New Career as a Network Engineer is Waiting for You 

If you’d like more information on how to launch your IT career, hop on a quick call and get started! 

TLG IT Careers, a division of TLG Learning, has been trusted for over 25 years by aspiring IT professionals to deliver effective, specially tailored training programs and dedicated job placement support. With expert instructors and end-to-end career success coaches, TLG IT Career students are confidently accepting roles as software developers and network engineers with Fortune 500 companies like Amazon and Microsoft. 93% of IT Career alumni graduate on time. 91% of students are placed within 60 days of graduating and are offered an average entry level pay of $82,000. TLG offers several Apprenticeship options too. Over 70% of TLG placements are in paid IT Apprenticeships. 99% of over 10,000 students trained worldwide would recommend TLG Learning. Completely devoted to student success, TLG IT Careers provides monthly, free digital orientation classes for potential students to learn more. 

TLG Learning’s programs are offered online and at company headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, and can also be found at Camp Murray in Washington.