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Career Path: How to Become a NOC Engineer

You have chosen your career and are now ready to go down the path of becoming a NOC (Network Operations Center) Engineer. Companies and governments are in constant need of IT technicians to directly support their efforts of remote monitoring and management of software and hardware in complex networking environments. Besides desks for engineers to operate, these datacenters usually contain servers and other equipment for maintaining the network.

Getting Through the Door

To land an entry-level job as a NOC Engineer or Technician, you will need to have obtained so...more

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Career Path: How to Become a NOC Engineer

You have chosen your career and are now ready to go down the path of becoming a NOC (Network Operations Center) Engineer. Companies and governments are in constant need of IT technicians to directly support their efforts of remote monitoring and management of software and hardware in complex networking environments. Besides desks for engineers to operate, these datacenters usually contain servers and other equipment for maintaining the network.

Getting Through the Door

To land an entry-level job as a NOC Engineer or Technician, you will need to have obtained some basic skills. Knowing how to install, configure and manage a computer networking system is a must for the job. You can expect to work in a team environment, so having good interpersonal and communication skills are needed. In an entry-level position, you may also have a customer service role that involves answering technical questions and emails, as well as troubleshooting applications within the network.

Other key technical skills that can improve your advantage include hands-on experience with routers and switches. Experience with VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and IPNs (Intrusion Prevention Systems) are also important to know. Some other minimum requirements employers might look for in entry- to junior-level engineers include:

  • Understanding of basic network design
  • Monitoring infrastructure environments and application services
  • Create and track incident tickets and assignments
  • Issue outage notification event communications
  • Manage work requests to meet service levels and objectives
  • Ability to multi-task and work in a high-stress environment
  • Willingness to learn and keep up with new technologies

Degrees and Experience

Employers look for NOC engineers to possess either an associate's or bachelor's degree in network operations, information technology, computer science or other related fields. Companies will also hire individuals with certifications and hands-on experience. Being knowledgeable of WAN (Wide Area Network) and LAN (Local Area Network) is something that companies look for in NOC engineers.

Working as a Junior-Level Engineer

As a junior-level engineer, you will be tasked with installing and configuring network devices. You can diagnose and resolve communication hardware and software problems. Implementing and monitoring systems security products and procedures is expected for the job. You will utilize tools and solutions to increase the efficiency of operations. Junior-level engineers in this field can also manage fault tolerance systems, application alerts, DDoS Attacks, power outages, routing black-holes and network failures.

Moving Up the Ranks

You have now obtained more experience as a NOC engineer and are ready to move up in your career. Keeping up-to-date on emerging technologies in the field is a good way to acquire the knowledge needed to grow. Expanding your technical skills, as well as becoming certified as a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) or acquiring a CompTIA A+ or Network+ certification will help you achieve your goal.

Advance Your Career: How to become a Senior NOC Engineer

Senior NOC Engineers have a lead role. They will design, plan and set standard practices for NOC implementation. These techs can resolve issues to meet the company's requirements and escalate them if necessary. Senior NOC engineers will be responsible for monitoring both the internal and external applications, microservices and infrastructure elements for incidents and outages. They may provide configurations for telecommunications systems, as well as give guidance, technical support, supervision and training to junior engineers.

Study the Core Fields

To become an expert NOC engineer, you have to be skilled in your field. This involves researching the latest advancements in technology, which includes network operating systems, architectures and protocols. Being able to assist with root cause analysis of recurring incidents and accurately documenting all issue details. You can also boost your qualifications by obtaining more certifications, such as an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) or MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist), as well as an advanced degree in networking or management.

Invest in Yourself

As a senior NOC engineer, you can manage the challenges that come with the job. By continuing to be proficient in Windows, UNIX and Linux operating systems, as well as monitoring systems and tools is a good way to get ahead. Being a good communicator in order to consult and provide technical support to the team is something that will catch the eye of employers. Maintaining excellent management, problem-solving and multitasking skills is also important.

Don't Stop at Engineering

Expand your knowledge by taking advantage of educational opportunities while on the job. There are organizations where you can gain valuable insight like the AITP (Association of Information Technology Professionals), the NPA (Network Professional Association and the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology). This can further accelerate your goals by helping you keep up with industry trends and building a strong network of skilled individuals that may offer access to potential employers or clients.

NOC Engineer Job Description

We’ve done the research for you. After evaluating numerous job descriptions, we’ve written our own representative job description for a mid-level engineer with between two and five years of relevant experience.

NOC Engineers will provide technical support for network connectivity issues and ensure that it's stable. They can monitor the infrastructure's security and capacity. NOC engineers are also able to work independently, as well as efficiently in a team environment on critical projects to get them done. Our embedded engineers are self-motivated and display leadership qualities. We welcome diversity and encourage healthy debate and discussion.

What We Need Your Help With

  • Monitoring of applications and network servers to minimize downtime
  • Ensuring a timely resolution to trouble tickets and follow-up with customers through e-mails or phone calls
  • Installing, updating and troubleshooting of application software
  • Configure and perform maintenance as needed on hardware equipment, including routers and firewalls
  • Detecting, troubleshooting, isolating and repairing failures
  • Provide operational support for systems hardware, software and peripherals
  • Map DCS cross-connects in the network and perform router configuration on VPN switching platform
  • Monitor for common threats, DOS attacks and viruses
  • Perform VoIP and video data management, network analysis and system backups, as well as documentation and reporting

What We Look For

  • 3+ years working in NOC, a datacenter or networking
  • 2+ years of data network integration and operations
  • Experience with communications systems and services
  • Experience using bug tracking, source control and ticketing systems
  • Experience supporting Windows Server 2003, 2008 R2 and 2012
  • Experience with IP routing protocols, including tools and troubleshooting techniques
  • Experience with TCP/IP concepts, as well as common router user interfaces and command structure
  • Experience responding to events in multiple environments, including Windows and Linux operating systems
  • Experience with scripts to perform start/stop and new deployments of server sets and database configurations
  • Familiarity with ITIL processes and relevant utility operations
  • Knowledgeable of IT standards, practices and procedures
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suites
  • Critical thinking, problem-solving,
  • A.S or B.S. in computer science, network operations, engineering or equivalent experience

These Would Be Nice

  • Experience with configuring IoT devices, as well as AWS and Microsoft Azure
  • Experience with SAP, HP Operations Manager for Windows, Orion or other work management software
  • Experience building dashboards with visualization tools such as Grafana, Kibana and CloudWatch
  • Experience with SQL, Cisco, telecommunications, RF, Microwave and WiFi
  • CCNA, CCISP or other field certifications

Senior NOC Engineer Career Paths: Where To Go From Here

You have shown that you are skilled at what you do and are now ready to move forward in your career. As technology continues to advance, so does the demand to meet system requirements. Because of this, companies are starting to look at global network operations centers (GNOCs) with experts in different areas around the world ensuring smooth connectivity and operations. You possess 10 years of experience as a senior NOC engineer and are also up for the challenge.

Senior NOC Engineers can transition into the role of a Senior Systems Engineer whose responsibilities include managing and maintaining tools and computer systems, identifying and resolving issues, as well as developing automated frameworks. There's the role of the IT Manager who supervises a company's computer infrastructure and provides training, and updates procedures and documentation and technologies. The position of the IT Director involves managing and directing IT operations for an employer along with creating strong relationships with vendors. Another career path is that of Chief Information Officer (CIO) who is responsible for making decisions for a company's information framework, such as evaluating strategies for services and products, overseeing development teams and determining what equipment is to be purchased. From this point, there's the VP of IT who oversees a company's technology initiatives, updates to all projects and IT changes. This role is also responsible for helping to create budgets and authorize purchases, as well as develop policies and relationships with vendors.

The positions listed generally require a bachelor's with a master's degree being an employer's preferred choice, as well as an MBA in some cases. Managerial and industry certifications along with years of expertise are a must-have on this journey. You will also need to possess not only superb communication skills but be able to work independently, lead effectively and make important decisions for the company as a whole.

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