Proposal: Network Engineering

I'm thinking of transitioning from programming to a network admin role. I am studying for the CCNA. I only have a vague idea of what a network engineer does, and what little I know comes from sites like bls.gov, studying for the CCNA, or reading job descriptions. Without any anecdotal experience, I don't really have an idea of what exactly a network engineer does during day. I don't really get the chance to interact with anyone who has network engineering experience.

To put all my questions into one real question: on average, what are the day-to-day tasks of a network engineer, and about how many hours are spent on each?

(e.g. 4 hrs/wk cabling, 20 hrs./wk. troubleshooting, 6 hrs./wk remote support, 6 hrs./wk extra on-call time, etc.)

It's not that easy to find a good place to ask a career question. Last I asked, the meta and faq pages of stackoverflow, serverfault, and programmers considers these sorts of questions off-topic, and this might be too specific for workplace.

  • We're glad you found a proposal that interests you :) However, discussions here should be about the proposal, not discussing the actual topic beyond how it relates to what kinds of questions would or would not be on topic for the proposed site. If you've committed to the site, you'll be able to ask questions once it progresses to private beta.
    – Tim Post
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 4:58

2 Answers 2


I work for a hospital with around 4500 staff, we have 3 6500 core switches with around 300 access switches and 250 access points. Day-to-day duties include

  • System checks (core switches, network monitoring servers)
  • Adding users to the wireless network
  • Dealing with any network connectivity faults

less common duties (maybe week-to-week duties)

  • Getting quotes for structured cabling / switches / access points
  • Troubleshooting network routing/switching problems
  • Replacing faulty/dead switches and access points
  • Patching ports for new PC's and moves.

Even less common (ad-hoc duties)

  • Network design (e.g. server team are implementing a virtual environment and need redundancy etc etc)
  • Working with project managers to implement IT projects (e.g. recently implemented the infrastructure for a new video conferencing suite)
  • This is a nice, descriptive answer. It seems that you get to do a fair amount of work away from the desk which is appealing
    – T. Webster
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:59

It all varies on your actual role. Some lower-level guys might spend their day making a bunch of cable, while others may only do it occassionally or go a year without making one.

From my perspective, I'm a managed services intern. Everything I do can be done remotely. I do checkups and backups on customer equipment, configure customer equipment, troubleshoot equipment with customers over the phone(or without. all very situational), document networks with designs and/or notes, etc. The reason it's hard to find answers for your question is because there's so much variety with every role. Also, you'll rarely be kept inside your job title. You'll find yourself having to do some other things from time to time and it's best to not fight it.

Hopefully that helped a little.

  • It does, you have my upvote
    – T. Webster
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:59

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