Computer systems and communications systems operate on networks that require network engineers and network administrators. Network engineers and network administrators are responsible for the timely construction and operation of networks. The engineers and administrators have some functions and requirements that are the same, but most of their functions are very different.
Network engineers are responsible for the design and physical construction of a network, whether it is for computer communications or telecommunications. This includes the placement of all of the physical equipment such as routers, communication switches and all of the cables and wires used to connect the equipment. Network engineers are also in charge of any electronic equipment used to activate each piece of equipment. Some devices, such as a communications multiplexer, require electronic cards to operate. A network engineer is responsible for making sure these cards are ordered and available to activate the equipment on time.
Antennas used for wireless communication are also designed by network engineers. They determine the size, shape and location of communication antennas in order to give the widest wireless area of coverage possible. Network engineers also handle the design and placement of all physical equipment used to power and support the antenna.
Network administrators, also known as systems administrators, take over where the network engineers stop. Network administrators are in charge of running and maintaining the network once it is turned up and operational for the first time. They handle all new software installations, software compatibility problems, and any system problems. These administrators are usually on call at all times, ready to respond to any system problem that may arise. Network administrators spend a lot of time in front of computers monitoring the network to ensure it is working at its designated capacity. If the system goes down, this usually costs the company operating the network a lot of money for each minute the system is down. For this reason, network administrators are expected to work diligently and nonstop until the network is back up and running.
While network engineers and network administrators jobs are very different, there are some similarities. Both engineers and administrators must know and understand the basic operation, terminology, and capacity of the network they are working on. This allows for better communication between engineer and administrator should a problem arise that requires input from both. Another common aspect of both network engineers and network administrators is that they must be team players and able to work well with others. They allows problems to be solved more quickly and efficiently.