Hiring a System Engineer vs. Network Engineer: What You Need to Know

By Robert Half on 30 May 2022
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

The pandemic has brought with it a huge shift in the way we live and work.

From the rapid rise in the remote workforce to the digitisation of sales and processes, organisations across the globe are increasingly reliant on technology to grow their business and operate efficiently.

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, IT specialists are in high demand. Having strong, robust, and efficient IT networks and systems is now an essential pillar of every mid-large sized business.

To achieve this, you need the right people in the key roles of System Engineer and Network Engineer—and while these job titles are at times used interchangeably, and there are crossovers in their roles, there are also some key differences that set them apart.

So, if you are looking to hire a candidate for either role in your business, we have put together a comparison of a System Engineer vs. Network Engineer, including an overview of what each role entails, the differences between them and what you should look out for when choosing a candidate.

What is a System Engineer?

System Engineers are responsible for constructing and designing computerised systems for businesses, managing infrastructure, and ensuring security of the system.

Their day-to-day tasks are varied and may include developing, testing, and maintaining operating systems to improve their efficiency, in response to the changing needs and demands of the business.

In addition, they must also keep informed of the latest threats and developments through industry resources, research, and data analysis.

Related: How to hire a Software Engineer

What is a Network Engineer?

Network Engineers are primarily focused on designing, building, and managing networks, and overseeing the operation to make sure it is all running smoothly.

They work on the integration and troubleshooting of hardware such as routers and servers, to keep the network secure and running optimally with maximum uptime.

In addition, they are responsible for arranging scheduled upgrades, investigating faults and reporting to stakeholders.

Like System Engineers, staying up to date with current trends and technological developments is critical to maintain security and performance.

Related: How to hire a Network Engineer

What is the difference between System Engineer vs. Network Engineer?

While system and Network Engineers deal with different aspects of the system, they both share the same overall goals—to create, maintain and continually improve the IT operations within the organisation.

The major point of difference is that System Engineers work with the software and systems, while Network Engineers work with the hardware that powers the network.

For example, if you are looking for an IT specialist to upgrade your data network to better support your remote or semi-remote workforce or need a permanent team member to monitor the network to maximise performance, including arranging upgrades, investigating faults and updating equipment, a Network Engineer would be an ideal match.

Alternatively, if you need to change, upgrade, or increase the efficiency of your operating system, a System Engineer can help. They can design, implement, and manage your new system, and be proactive in protecting your system from security threats.

What is driving the demand for these roles in Australia today?

The impact of the pandemic on our lives and work has led to an explosion in technology use, which has accelerated the demand for IT professionals across the board.

When comparing the opportunities of System Engineer vs. Network Engineer, the future demand for both roles in Australia is predicted to be very strong.

A combination of factors is driving the push for more IT engineers. From a decentralised workforce that requires new ways of working, to increasingly sophisticated cyber-security threats, these days, every business needs a strong and effective IT network and system behind them to drive growth.

Customer behaviour has changed too, which has created new revenue opportunities—but only for those businesses who are prepared with efficient virtual services up and running and ready to go to take advantage of them.

Which skills, experience and qualifications should you look for when hiring a System Engineer?

When looking for the right person for a System Engineer role, there are some key skills, experience, and qualifications they must have. They should be agile, adaptable, and always ready to embrace change.

Experience working well under pressure, problem-solving and demonstrating confidence in their own abilities to work on complex processes and operations is a definite advantage.

The ideal candidate will also hold a degree or formal qualification in information technology, computer science, software development or another related field.

An understanding of the tools of the trade is a must and certifications such as Citrix, Red Hat, Oracle Java, Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (MCSE) can really set them apart.

Which skills, experience and qualifications should you look for when hiring a Network Engineer?

A Network Engineer should possess an analytical mind, excellent problem-solving abilities and be a confident and clear communicator.

They will hold a degree in a relevant discipline such as computer science, computer systems, network security management or electrical engineering.

They may also require specific certification, for example, CCNP, depending on the role and organisation.

Get expert help to land the right candidate

In a competitive landscape where IT talent is in high demand, engaging the help of a specialised recruitment team will give you the resources and edge you need to find the perfect fit.

When it comes to a System Engineer vs. Network Engineer, our team can help you clearly define which role will deliver the outcomes you require and connect you with the best candidates to bring you ongoing growth and success.


Get in touch with our expert team to find out how we can help today.

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