Network Engineer vs. Systems Engineer
What is the difference between a network engineer and a systems engineer? They’re job titles that employers use interchangeably. However, network engineers and systems engineers have a few things in common, and some points where they separate:
Network engineers build and manage networks. System engineers construct and manage infrastructures. Systems engineers also design the entire system and make sure it’s secure. Network engineers take care of the network side of the system, making sure the network is working correctly.
Whether you’re considering the path of a network engineer or a systems engineer, you’ll enjoy reading this report. It’s a comparison between the two most prominent fields within Information Technology (IT).
What Do Network Engineers Do?
Network engineers are responsible for network integration and troubleshooting. Their goal is to connect the elements of the network (routers, switches, servers, etc.) as securely as possible.
Notice that networking engineers contain several subcategories within it. Think of it as a division or a team.
A cloud engineer might be responsible for cloud servers. Other network engineers would work on different roles to keep the network safe and working correctly.
The larger the organization, the more the contrast between these roles is evident.
In a small- and medium-sized organization, the lines between network engineers and systems engineers blur. So, network engineers wear a lot of hats.
In general, the responsibilities of a network engineer include:
- Design and set up wireless networks.
- Build virtual networks.
- Consult clients with their network needs.
Senior network engineers lead the whole team, so they’re effective communicators.
Junior network engineers usually start by building phone systems. It may come as a surprise because it has nothing to do with computers.
The thing is, network engineers, build networks. You’ll quickly learn that not all networks are computer networks.
Phones, servers, switches have networks. Basically, all networked devices will be your responsibility, whether for your employer or your clients.
What Do Systems Engineers Do?
Systems engineers are responsible for building computerized systems for employers and clients. As systems engineers, the title describes a whole lot of tasks. It’s a team of engineers, programmers, and administrators focusing on building systems.
You’ll also be responsible for improving standing systems to adapt them to your employer’s requirements.
Responsibilities of systems engineers include:
- Choosing operating systems.
- Maintain the system security.
- Make changes to the system.
- Software development and testing.
So, how do network engineers and systems engineers work together?
Network engineers are responsible for the hardware side of the system, while systems engineers develop the software.
So, think of building a large-scale IT infrastructure for a multinational company like Coca-Cola. Network and systems engineers would work together to design the system, determine the hardware, and install the system.
Their roles might overlap as they work together to keep the system whole and secure.
Systems engineers also share the responsibility with network engineers to keep the system secure.
So, imagine a small circle that’s called network engineering within a larger circle called systems engineering.
Sometimes, the small circle enlarges to contain the large circle. Sometimes, they overlap. Other times, they work separately.
Confused yet? Perhaps, the following pros and cons list will clarify the matter once and for all.
Pros vs. Cons
If you can’t see yourself in one or the other, consider your working style. Do you like standing on your legs all day or sit on a desk? Check out the pros and cons for both.
Network Engineers Pros
- A high salary that’s beyond the dreams of avarice, especially when you climb the IT ladder.
- You call the shots when it comes to network installation and configuration.
- Your employer will pay for additional training and certification.
Network Engineers Cons
- You’re responsible for the network’s security, speed, and reliability. Any network error will be on you.
- You’ll need to monitor the network 24/7 and wake up at inopportune times if need be.
- You’ll divide your time between keeping up to date and fixing the network.
Systems Engineers Pros
- Most of your work is remote, and you can do it anywhere you wish.
- The results of your work are instantly visible and have the most impact.
- You get to design the system according to what you see best. Nobody tells you what to do.
Systems Engineers Cons
- The problems you solve might take a few weeks to resolve.
- Everyone in the company will think you’re the only IT specialist around.
- Your work is never done.
What Certifications To Take?
Both network engineers and systems engineers earn their bachelor’s degrees in information technology, computer science, or computer science.
Then, they get a master’s degree, and they’re off to the races.
But if you have your degree with ten years of working experience, a certificate will be the only edge you need to push your career in one of the two directions.
So, here are some certifications you might want to consider:
- Cisco CCIE
- Cisco CCNP
- VMware Certified Professional
- CompTIA Network+
- ONF Certified SDN Associate
- Certified Wireless Network Administrator
- AWS Certified Advanced Networking
- Juniper Networks Certified Enterprise Routing and Switching Expert
- Cisco CCNA
- CompTIA Security+
- Master Certified Electronics Technician
- Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional – Architecture
- Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician
- Cisco Certified Network Professional
Whether you choose the network engineer or systems engineer path, you need to stay focused. Like they say in the military, know your mission.
Both careers are lucrative, with an abundance of engaging problems to tackle. All you need to do is find new ways to do things better.
Network engineers work on making the whole network work like a clock while systems engineers focus on the entire system. They share similar goals and work on different aspects of IT.
Either way, they’re exciting careers to take. And they’ll lead you to the top of the IT pyramid.
If you want a hint, network engineering is sexier and more popular. But that’s up to you to determine.
Break a leg!