Career Development

What Does a Network Automation Engineer Do?

Find out what a Network Automation Engineer does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as a Network Automation Engineer.

The Network Automation Engineer plays a significant role in enhancing the efficiency and reliability of network infrastructure through the development and deployment of software and automation tools. This position focuses on streamlining operations, reducing manual tasks, and improving the accuracy of network functions by leveraging technology. By creating custom scripts and utilizing existing automation frameworks, the engineer ensures that network configurations, monitoring, and management are executed with precision and consistency. This role involves a blend of programming skills and networking knowledge, enabling the professional to design solutions that address the dynamic needs of the network environment, ultimately supporting the organization’s goals of operational excellence and technological advancement.

Network Automation Engineer Job Duties

  • Design, develop, and implement automation workflows to streamline network operations and processes, utilizing tools such as Ansible, Python, and Terraform.
  • Collaborate with network engineering teams to identify opportunities for automation, ensuring alignment with business objectives and network architecture standards.
  • Perform rigorous testing of automation scripts and tools in a lab environment before deployment in production to ensure reliability and efficiency.
  • Manage and maintain the network automation infrastructure, including version control systems and automation servers, to ensure high availability and performance.
  • Develop custom scripts to automate data collection for network performance monitoring and generate reports for analysis by the network operations team.
  • Implement security practices within automation workflows to safeguard network data and infrastructure from unauthorized access or breaches.
  • Troubleshoot and resolve issues within automated processes, applying debugging tools and techniques to ensure minimal disruption to network services.
  • Document automation processes, including code comments, user manuals, and operational procedures, to ensure knowledge transfer and adherence to best practices within the team.

Network Automation Engineer Salary & Outlook

Salary for a Network Automation Engineer is influenced by their experience level, particularly in Python, Ansible, and other automation tools. Industry demand, the complexity of the network infrastructure managed, and the engineer’s role in developing or maintaining automation scripts also significantly affect compensation. Specialization in cloud services can further elevate salary potential.

  • Median Annual Salary: $110,250 ($53/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $153,000 ($73.56/hour)

The employment of network automation engineers is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

This trend is primarily due to advancements in AI and machine learning technologies, which allow for more sophisticated automation tools that reduce the need for manual network configuration and oversight, thus diminishing the demand for Network Automation Engineers.

Network Automation Engineer Job Requirements

Education: A Network Automation Engineer typically holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Information Technology, or related fields. Relevant coursework includes programming, network design, systems engineering, and automation technologies. Advanced degrees, like a Master’s, can enhance prospects, focusing on specialized areas such as cybersecurity or cloud computing. Academic projects or internships that offer hands-on experience with network configurations and automation tools are highly beneficial for this role.

Experience: Network Automation Engineers typically emerge from a background rich in hands-on experience with network operations, system administration, and scripting. Their journey often includes substantial on-the-job training, where they refine their skills in automating network tasks, deploying software-defined networking solutions, and managing large-scale network infrastructures. Participation in specialized training programs further enhances their expertise in programming languages relevant to network automation, such as Python. This role demands a blend of practical experience in network engineering and a deep understanding of automation tools and methodologies to innovate and streamline network processes.

Certifications & Licenses: Network Automation Engineer roles typically do not require specific licenses. However, certifications such as Cisco Certified DevNet Professional, Juniper Networks Automation and DevOps Certification, and Red Hat Certified Engineer in Ansible Automation can be beneficial. These certifications demonstrate proficiency in network automation tools and practices.

Network Automation Engineer Skills

Scripting: Automation of repetitive network tasks through efficient, reusable code minimizes human error and boosts operational efficiency. It facilitates quick deployment of network changes and updates, keeping networks agile to meet new business demands or technological shifts.

Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) Pipelines: Automated pipelines streamline the deployment of network configurations and code updates with minimal manual intervention. They enable the swift rollout of new features and quick fixes to issues, enhancing network reliability and performance.

Network Configuration Management: Automation tools and scripting are employed to deploy, operate, and manage network devices and configurations with precision. This approach ensures network reliability and consistency, reducing manual configuration errors and improving responsiveness to changing business needs.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC): Programmatic management and provisioning of networking devices and services through IaC eliminate manual processes and mistakes. It fosters the creation of repeatable and consistent network environments, simplifying deployments and operational tasks.

Cloud Networking: Expertise in designing, implementing, and managing virtual networks within cloud platforms ensures seamless connectivity and security across distributed infrastructure. Knowledge of cloud service providers and automation tools is essential for efficient deployment and maintenance of network configurations.

Network Security Automation: Implementing automated protocols for real-time threat identification and mitigation leverages in-depth understanding of network infrastructure and cybersecurity. Scripting and enforcing security policies and procedures automatically across the network guarantees consistent protection without the need for manual intervention.

Network Automation Engineer Work Environment

Network Automation Engineers often find themselves in dynamic workspaces that blend traditional office settings with the flexibility of remote work options. Their environment is equipped with advanced tools and software necessary for scripting, coding, and managing network operations efficiently. This role typically involves standard work hours, yet the nature of network emergencies can sometimes demand availability outside the conventional nine-to-five.

The dress code leans towards business casual, reflecting a balance between professionalism and comfort suitable for both in-office and virtual meetings. The culture within these teams emphasizes collaboration and continuous learning, with a strong emphasis on innovation and problem-solving. Interaction with colleagues is frequent, necessitating good communication skills, yet the work also requires periods of focused, independent effort.

Health and safety measures are observed, particularly in physical office spaces, ensuring a comfortable and risk-minimized environment. Noise levels are generally low, conducive to concentration. Opportunities for professional development are abundant, with access to the latest technologies and methodologies in network engineering, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and adaptation.

Advancement Prospects

Network Automation Engineers can progress to senior roles within network engineering, focusing on designing and implementing complex automation solutions. Advancement often involves leading projects or teams, requiring strong leadership and project management skills.

Specializing in areas such as cloud automation or security automation presents significant opportunities. Engineers can transition into roles like Cloud Automation Architect or Security Automation Specialist, where they design and oversee the automation of specific network functions in cloud environments or for enhancing network security.

To achieve these advancements, gaining experience with a variety of automation tools and scripting languages is crucial. Engineers should also develop a deep understanding of the network technologies they aim to automate. Engaging in high-impact projects and continuously improving automation strategies will showcase their expertise and leadership potential, paving the way for career progression.


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