Networking pros face strong 2023 job market, greater demands

Despite the volatile economy and tech industry, networking pros should see a strong job market in 2023, with opportunities for better salaries and increased skill sets.

With all the publicized layoffs among tech companies in the summer and fall of 2022, one might believe the IT sector is vulnerable on the hiring front. But networking professionals can expect hiring to remain strong for their ranks in 2023, at least on par with 2022.

Mike Tischler, senior IT recruiter at Staffing Technologies, who has been placing IT professionals for 24 years in Dallas and Atlanta, expects the demand for infrastructure professionals in 2023 to be consistent with 2022.

"While many organizations will not hire as aggressively in 2023 because of a [possible] pending recession, others will continue to pursue cloud infrastructure and security-related initiatives," Tischler said.

Where networking pros might see changes in the 2023 job market is with shifts in who does the hiring, said Jonathan Reardon, senior IT recruiter with the Kelly Science, Engineering, Technology and Telecom practice. For example, tech organizations might hire more while contractors see increased demand.

"I think traditional network engineering and associated roles will remain a steady need," Reardon said.

Top trends and industries driving job growth

As with everything IT, networking is experiencing a transition to cloud-based infrastructure, Reardon noted. Many organizations are outsourcing some or all of their IT needs, using hosting platforms and third parties. Candidates that have more exposure to virtual networks will be more in demand than those without, he said.

In terms of top hiring industries, the financial services, healthcare and retail sectors are especially good for networking job candidates, due to the high volume of transactions and need for cybersecurity, Tischler said. Manufacturing and logistics-based companies are also good options.

Top skills see significant rise in salary potential

Basically all job roles in IT infrastructure are in high demand, especially because of a labor shortage for proficient and skilled candidates. Many candidates also left their former jobs for fully remote positions, Tischler said.

He said some of the most wanted skills are the following:

  • cybersecurity roles;
  • proficiency in load balancing; and
  • enterprise-level network architecture with cloud experience.

Senior network engineers can easily reach an average salary of $140,000, Tischler said.

"But I have seen more specialized engineers -- Microsoft Office 365 engineers and those with cloud experience or with advanced certifications -- command $160,000 to $180,000," he said.

Skilled networking pros that change jobs can also see substantial salary increases, sometimes with raises of $20,000, Tischler said.

"I have not seen these salary increases since the dot-com days," he said. "It's also important to note that many of these jobs do not mandate a college degree in computer science."

Additionally, he noted that 30% to 40% of qualified network engineers didn't obtain a college degree compared with 95% of programmers who did.

Experiences, skills and traits of top networking talent

With salaries for networking pros now at levels that were reserved for CIOs only a few years ago, organizations are obviously picky about what the ideal job candidate looks like.

J.M. Auron, IT resume writer at Quantum Tech Resumes, said two factors will help IT pros stand out -- and both are a bit counterintuitive.

First is interpersonal skills.

Whether you're an engineer or a networking leader, it's the ability to communicate -- with technical peers, users, business stakeholders and leaders -- that will make you really stand out.
J.M. AuronIT resume writer, Quantum Tech Resumes

"Whether you're an engineer or a networking leader, it's the ability to communicate -- with technical peers, users, business stakeholders and leaders -- that will make you really stand out," Auron said.

Most users don't understand what networking pros do and don't see the necessity of networking, he added. They just want to do their jobs. But networking pros with interpersonal skills can build bridges to those users and communicate the importance of networking. Those skills will help pros get the resources they need to keep things up and running effectively and keep them top of mind when the next promotion comes up, he said.

The second important skill is understanding business value.

"Networking -- and IT generally -- is still too often seen as a cost center. And no one wants to spend money, especially these days," Auron said.

It's critical for networking pros to focus on the value their work delivers to the business and watch how their works aligns with strategic business goals, he added.

"I realize that's not always easy -- especially if you're in a very hands-on role. But the more you can think about business results, the more you'll be able to accelerate your career," Auron said.

This was last published in January 2023

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