IT Infrastructure Engineer Job Description
IT infrastructure engineers build and maintain the hardware and software components of their employer’s IT network. When servers, routers, PCs, and other equipment need to be set up or fixed, an IT infrastructure engineer is usually the point person for the job. With the increasing ubiquity of computer and internet technology in all facets of the economy, these professionals can be found in any company as well as government and nonprofit entities. They typically work regular business hours in an office environment; however, roles focused on technical support may require more travel and on-call time, as well as rotating shifts.
IT Infrastructure Engineer Duties and Responsibilities
IT infrastructure engineers have different responsibilities depending on the specific role they perform in an organization, but certain elements of their jobs remain similar:
Establish Network Infrastructure
Whether they’re building a whole IT network or setting up a PC and access permissions for a new hire, IT infrastructure engineers provide the technological foundation for much of their organization’s day-to-day operations. This process involves both hardware and software setup and often interaction and basic training with end users who may not be familiar with the finer points of IT.
Provide IT Support
Because IT systems are so crucial to the daily operations of most organizations, IT infrastructure engineers must quickly solve problems. Issues are typically “escalated” from a worker or nonspecialist for resolution. Depending on the scope of their duties, the engineer may be responsible for liaising with affected stakeholders, identifying the problem, devising a solution, and implementing that fix.
Maintain Network Components
Minimizing IT outages requires constant upkeep of the network infrastructure. IT infrastructure engineers handle updates, upgrades, and other maintenance tasks in both hardware and software areas. Additionally, they look for ways to make the network more efficient, cost-effective, and secure.
IT Infrastructure Engineer Skills and Qualifications
An IT infrastructure engineer relies on a deep body of knowledge and a wide variety of hard and soft skills to go about their work. These include:
- Software knowledge – IT infrastructure engineers work with a variety of software. A working knowledge of how these various systems interact virtually helps the engineer conduct rapid troubleshooting
- Hardware knowledge – routers, servers, PCs, printers, and other equipment all fall under the IT infrastructure engineer’s purview. The engineer also knows how to manage LANs and wired/wireless networks to connect these devices
- Problem-solving skills – getting many pieces of hardware and software to work in harmony is an ongoing and challenging task. Strong deductive reasoning and patience serve engineers well here
- Customer service – infrastructure engineers tend to work with internal rather than external partners. Communicating well with these “customers” helps the engineer resolve outages quickly and build strong working relationships
- Teaching ability – engineers may need to explain complex technical concepts to nontechnical colleagues and train them to use software and hardware
- Organization skills – whether keeping cable sprawl to a minimum, documenting their work, or prioritizing requests for support, IT infrastructure engineers need to stay organized to keep on top of their tasks
Tools of the Trade
IT infrastructure engineers work with a wide variety of equipment and software:
- Ticket or support software (such as Zendesk or Freshdesk)
- Linux and Windows-based servers and associated hardware
- Office 365, SharePoint, Citrix
IT Infrastructure Engineer Education and Training
IT infrastructure engineers typically hold bachelor’s degrees in computer engineering or computer science. Some entry-level positions may require an associate’s degree. Continuing education, while not always formalized, is crucial for infrastructure engineers due to the rapid pace of changes in computer technology.
A notable example of an advanced degree held by senior IT infrastructure engineers is the master’s of business administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems. This degree combines both business and computing courses and takes about two years to complete.
Certifications are an important part of credentialing for IT infrastructure engineers. Professional certifications designating the holder as a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V), or Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect (AWS CSA) give aspiring infrastructure engineers a leg up at companies using the relevant technologies.
IT Infrastructure Engineer Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median pay for network and computer systems administrators at $81,000 per year, while computer network architects make $105,000 per year. IT infrastructure engineers have many responsibilities that overlap with these similar job titles.
IT professionals can draw on a wealth of resources as they navigate their careers. Here are a number of resources to get you started:
Excellence in IT: Achieving Success in an Information Technology Career – based on extensive real-world experience, this book discusses the daily life of IT professionals and offers suggestions to enhance both career advancement and personal satisfaction. Topics covered include stress management, continuing education, and dealing with problematic stakeholders
IT Career JumpStart: An Introduction to PC Hardware, Software, and Networking – this book covers topics of interest to those looking to break into the IT field. It covers many basic elements of computer engineering and networking
MCSE Certifications – many employers seek IT infrastructure engineers with the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification. This website from Microsoft discusses the different types of MCSE certification and how to get them. It also discusses the entry-level MTA and MCSA certifications, which can help give new IT professionals a leg up in their job searches
IT Core Infrastructure – this large LinkedIn group has over 50,000 members and facilitates discussion of key IT infrastructure technologies
Association of IT Professionals – with a membership that includes not only IT professionals but the employers and recruiters looking to hire them, AITP is a superb networking resource. The organization has 32 chapters across the U.S. and a variety of online resources
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