Network engineers install, configure and maintain computer network systems, including servers, switches and routers. While this term is common in the computer industry, it is not often used as a job title. Someone responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of a computer network usually is called a network administrator or computer systems administrator. Those who design and install new networks most often are called network architects and usually are paid more. Network support specialists are generally paid the least.
In 2011, a network administrator earned a median wage of $34.12 per hour, or $70,970 per year, according to O-NET. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2010 showed similar median wages of $33.25 per hour. Median means that half earned more and half earned less than the figures cited. The BLS estimated that in 2010 the top 10 percent in the field earned more than $108,090, or $51.97 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent of earners made $42,400 or less, or $20.38 per hour.
The BLS estimated median earnings for network administrators in 2010 based on four industries. Network administrators working in the education sector earned $28.48 per hour. Those working in health care and social assistance earned a median wage of $31.04 per hour. Those working in the manufacturing industry took in $32.63 per hour. Median wages of network administrators in finance or insurance were $34.93 per hour, while those employed by computer systems design companies and other information technology firms earned the most, $35.69 per hour.
Network architects design and implement networks rather than maintaining networks for day-to-day operations. This can require advanced knowledge and expertise in order to determine the appropriate use of new technologies in existing networks as well as designing new networks to meet specific hardware or software requirements. According to a Robert Half Technology survey, network architects made between $95,500 and $137,000 in 2012. Based on the same 40-hour workweek used to determine the hourly pay of network administrators, this amounts to an average between $45.91 and $65.87 per hour.
Network Support Specialist Pay:
Computer network support specialists are primarily involved in troubleshooting network problems and determining network usage, server loads and Internet connectivity. While some support specialists work directly with equipment on site, others work from remote locations such as call centers. According to O*NET, the median hourly wage for this position averaged $22.91 per hour, or $47,660 annually. In 2010, the BLS estimated the median wage to be $46,260 annually, or $22.44 per hour. In 2010, the bottom 10 percent of earners made $13.61 per hour, or $28,300 annually, or less. Those in the top 10 percent took home $37.00 per hour, or $76,970, or more.