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Network Engineers work with computer networks, or communication systems. They create and install these systems, and also look after their maintenance.
These networks allow people and organisations to communicate and share information with each other, and to provide services.
Networks could be set up on a small local scale, known as a local area network or LAN, right up to a global scale, known as a global area network or GAN. LANs connect computers in a small area, such as a building, while GANs, as the name suggests, connect networks spanning the globe.
A Network Engineer may be required to install software and hardware for the network, solve problems with it and look at preventing problems in the future through maintenance.
When dealing with network users, an Engineer may need to set up user accounts and passwords, provide technical support and also give training on use of the network.
They’ll also be expected to ensure that the network is secure.
How to become a Network Engineer
Entry can be gained through an apprenticeship within an IT company or department.
Otherwise, the skills needed for this career can be gained through a City & Guilds Diploma, or a BTEC or OCR (iPro) Certificate, for IT Practitioners. The Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) also runs certification courses.
Prior IT experience in other disciplines could also provide a springboard into this career.
Once employed as a Network Engineer, it is up to the individual to continue their training throughout their career to ensure that they keep up with industry and technological developments. To do this, there are further certificates, diplomas and HNDs or degrees that can be taken.
e-skills UK is a helpful website for the early years of a career in IT, and could help give guidance on courses and apprenticeships.
Skills and knowledge required
- Good IT skills and the ability to keep abreast of changes to technology
- Good communication skills
- The ability to organise and prioritise
- Good people and teamwork skills
Entry level positions can pay between £15,000 and £22,000 a year, with mid-level roles earning anything from £23,000 to £35,000. The most senior staff in this field can expect to bring home over £40,000 per annum.
Usually normal full-time hours: 37-40 hours a week, although overtime and unconventional hours could be worked when installing systems to meet deadlines and avoid disruption to a business during the working day.
www.e-skills.com – e-skills UK
www.bcs.org.uk – British Computer Society
www.comptia.org – Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)