What Is A Network Engineer And Why Are They Important?

A network engineer at work, answering the question of what is a network engineer

In order to answer the question of ‘What is a network engineer?’, it’s important to explore what a network engineer does and why they are needed in a business.

As businesses become more digitalised and take on new technologies, keeping all of your systems up to date, secure, and online has never been more important. This is where a network engineer comes in particularly useful.

Below I’ve set out what is a network engineer, what they do, and how to hire a network engineer. It’s a summary of everything you need to know if you want to employ or contract a specialist in the field.

What is a network engineer: the job role

If you’re not an IT professional yourself, you might be wondering what does a network engineer do exactly? In essence, they design, build, implement, maintain, and troubleshoot your computer network infrastructure. This includes routers, switches, firewalls, and wireless access points; meaning that they cover everything from printers and staff desktops to cable management, mail servers, and web servers.

Often, they will work within your company to offer support and fixes to your staff, or customers, depending on what is within their remit. They are particularly important as when there is an issue in your network and your computers, internal systems, and operations are down you lose valuable business time and money. The longer you wait to get it fixed, the more it will cost your company. This means hiring a network engineer for your company is invaluable as they would already be on hand to provide solutions.

What is a network engineer: skills and responsibilities

Now that I’ve explained what a network engineer does, here are the hard and soft skills, and the responsibilities that are needed for the role. A person who epitomises all of these elements would be a fantastic addition to your team:

Hard skills

  • Knowledge of the main networking concepts including TCP/IP, DHCP, UDP, and routing
  • Experience with troubleshooting and fixing network hardware and infrastructure such as routers, hubs, servers, VPNs, and switches
  • Understanding of firewalls and security

Soft skills

  • High-level analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Great communication skills
  • Ability to communicate technical issues and problems to colleagues/ clients who don’t have any knowledge in the area
  • Good time and project management skills


  • Supporting the management and maintenance of networking and security systems, including installation, testing, commission, and replacements
  • Ensuring networks are protected from malware, including installing and maintaining firewalls
  • Providing technical support and assistance to employees
  • Implementing new solutions to the network
  • Making sure all systems are optimised and easily accessible for employees
  • Arranging scheduled updates to the network

How to hire a network engineer

When hiring network engineers there are two things to keep in mind.

Firstly, you need to decide exactly what you require them to do. This can be achieved through conversations with your current IT department, and then through further clarification with a network engineer recruitment agency like VIQU.

  • What projects do you need them to work on?
  • What technologies do they need to understand?

Ensuring these expectations are in place and agreed upon by all parties in advance will help you/your network engineer recruitment agency to advertise the role clearly and concisely.

Secondly, you must decide whether you need to contract the individual for a short period of time or if you’re looking for a permanent employee. This will depend on your IT department setup and needs. They are crucial to keeping your business and systems online, however, if you already have an established IT team that covers a number of an engineer’s responsibilities, you might want a contractor to just fill the gap, or someone to upskill and train your current employees.

The network engineer recruitment process

Once you have the previous two aspects sorted, you can start on the recruitment process. This can take place via a recruitment agency or through your internal talent team.

Attracting top network engineer talent

Network engineers play a crucial role in the company, so you’re going to need an effective recruitment process to secure the best talent.

Inside an effective network engineer recruitment process is a well-defined EVP (Employee Value Proposition).

An EVP is essentially your employee experience. From your company culture to training opportunities, compensation, and your values, having an attractive and well-defined EVP will increase recruitment and retention. Whilst all companies have the aspects of an EVP, a network engineer recruitment agency like VIQU can help you to define it and promote it properly.

Additionally, you must continually assess whether you are conducting a successful recruitment campaign.

  • Are you setting clear objectives and following them?
  • Is there a defined candidate specification you are targeting?
  • Are you keeping candidates engaged throughout the process?

Interview questions for a network engineer

If you’re looking for more practical advice on how to hire a network engineer, here are some of the questions you can ask them during the interview. But please remember that these need to be tailored to your company and your needs.

  • Tell me about a time you’ve scaled a network to accommodate business growth or change
  • What’s your network troubleshooting process?
  • What experience do you have working with other departments?
  • Describe your project management experience in network engineering
  • What is your network security experience?
  • Tell me about how you stay on top of industry developments
  • What is the largest network you’ve engineered?

Hiring network engineers that will complement and improve your business is a difficult and technical task. For help finding the perfect network engineer for you, contact us for a bespoke and tailored recruitment experience.

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