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Network Manager

A network manager is responsible for an organisation's computer network system. A network is designed to give staff in an organisation access to files, documents, business applications, corporate systems, email and internet as well as printers and other devices.

Depending on the size and function of the organisation, there can be more than one network. Networks can be local, within a building, or can link nationally or internationally using satellite communications.

Network managers are responsible for:

  • designing, installing and testing networks
  • maintaining the network and backing up data
  • ensuring systems are secure to prevent unwanted users
  • system documentation
  • managing technical staff working on the network
  • controlling budgets and analysing costs
  • devising a disaster recovery plan.

Network managers usually work normal office hours. Additional hours may be required when installing new networks or upgrading, which could include weekends and evenings. Network managers may also need to be on call to deal with any system outages or failures. They usually work in an open plan office, though there may be some travel.

Salaries may range from around £24,000 to more than £60,000 a year.

A network manager should:

  • have strong technical IT skills and communication skills
  • have an excellent understanding of the business environment in which they work
  • be able to lead others
  • have project management experience
  • keep up to date with advances in IT and technology
  • enjoy troubleshooting and solving problems.

Network managers are employed throughout the UK but with a higher concentration in south-east England. Most organisations with large IT systems employ network managers, including those in commerce, industry, retail, local government, central government and the National Health Service. They are also employed by IT consultancies.

Most network managers have a degree, BTEC Higher National qualification or equivalent, and relevant experience. Some enter direct as trainee network managers, while most begin at a lower level and progress to network management.

Training is generally on the job. Network managers may work towards professional qualifications and undertake training relevant to the networks and systems used by their employing organisation.

Network managers may progress to senior network manager and then to project manager. They can choose to specialise or move into people or team management. Some become IT consultants, move into lecturing or training, or become self-employed and work as contractors.

What is the work like?

A network manager is responsible for an organisation's computer network system. A network is designed to give staff in an organisation access to files, documents, business applications, corporate systems, email and internet as well as printers and other devices.

Network managers may be part of a company or work for an outside agency providing external network support to clients. Depending on the size and function of the organisation, there can be more than one network. There are three main types of networks:

  • local area networks (LANs) which link offices and computer terminals in one building across a limited area
  • wide area networks (WANs) which link computers nationally or internationally
  • global area networks (GANs) which include satellite mobile communications.

Network managers are responsible for:

  • designing, installing and testing networks
  • monitoring network performance
  • the maintenance and administration of the network, for example ensuring that all data is backed up
  • system documentation
  • the long-term growth and development of the network
  • ensuring system hardware and software are secure to prevent access by unwanted users
  • controlling budgets and analysing costs - usually they will have to present their recommendations to senior management
  • devising a disaster recovery plan, to ensure continuity of service in case of systems interruption or failure.

Depending on the size of the organisation, the network manager may lead a team of technical staff. Management tasks will include staff development, managing workloads and devising rotas to ensure that staff cover the network at all times.

Network managers work closely with other members of an organisation's IT support team, often including project managers, engineers and support staff. They may spend time in meetings with clients looking at how to provide a more efficient service. In a large organisation there may be several network managers, each working on a different area. In a small organisation, the network manager can often get involved in all areas of the network, including administration and maintenance.

As a result of the continued growth and expansion in the use of IT, this is a varied role which is challenging and ever changing.

Hours and environment

Network managers usually work normal office hours. Additional hours may be required when installing new networks or upgrading, which could include weekends and evenings. Network managers may also need to be on call to deal with any system outages or failures.

It is usual to work in an open plan office. There may be a limited amount of travelling. Smart casual or business dress would usually be expected.

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • The average starting salary is around £24,000 a year.
  • With experience, network managers may earn between £30,000 and £50,000 a year.
  • Salaries can be over £60,000 for senior jobs.

Skills and personal qualities

A network manager should:

  • have strong technical IT skills
  • have an excellent understanding of the business environment in which they work
  • have good interpersonal and communication skills
  • work well on their own or in a team
  • be able to lead others
  • be able to work to tight deadlines
  • be thorough and precise in their work
  • be able to use their initiative
  • be able to manage a financial budget
  • know how to manage projects.

Interests

It helps to have an interest in:

  • troubleshooting and solving problems logically
  • keeping up to date with advances in IT technology
  • understanding the requirements of clients and customers.

Getting in

The number of network managers has increased over the past few years. They are employed throughout the UK but with a higher concentration in south-east England. Most organisations with large IT systems employ network managers, including those in:

  • commerce, such as banks, building societies and insurance companies
  • industry
  • retail
  • local government
  • central government
  • the National Health Service.

Network managers are also employed by IT consultancies.

Vacancies may be advertised in local and national newspapers and in publications such as ComputerWeekly and Computing. They may also be advertised on the internet by employers and recruitment agencies, and on specialist websites such as that of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT (www.bcsrecruit.com).

Entry routes

Most network managers have a degree, BTEC Higher National qualification or equivalent, and relevant experience.

There is a range of qualifications that provide a good grounding in IT and networks. They include:

  • Diploma in information technology
  • BTEC National Certificate/Diploma for IT practitioners (networking). Applicants need four GCSEs (A*-C) or equivalent qualifications.
  • BTEC Higher National Certificate/Diploma (HNC/HND) in computing. Entry is usually with at least one A level and four GCSEs (A*-C) or equivalent, such as a relevant BTEC National Certificate or Diploma.
  • Foundation degrees in subjects such as computer networking, computer science, electronic engineering and software engineering. Entry usually needs at least one A level
  • Honours degrees in subjects such as IT, computing, computer networking, programming or software engineering. Entry is usually with at least two A levels or equivalent
  • City & Guilds Level 4 Higher Professional Diploma in information management using ICT.
  • the Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS) Foundation Diploma
  • CISCO and Microsoft accreditation.

HND and foundation degree courses usually last two years full time; HNC courses normally last two years part time. Honours degree courses usually take three years full time or four years for courses that include a year's practical work placement. Candidates should check prospectuses carefully, as the content of courses and entry requirements can vary considerably.

An applicant with a relevant HNC/HND, foundation degree or honours degree may be able to enter employment as a trainee network manager. Otherwise entrants begin work in IT at a more basic computing or technical support level and progress to become network managers. One entry route may be an IT and Telecoms Professionals Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer and, from August 2009, pay at least £95 per week. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available on the Apprenticeship page on this website, from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Training

Training is generally on the job and may include in-house training courses.

Network managers may work for professional qualifications offered by bodies such as BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS). They are also likely to undertake training relevant to the networks and systems used by their employing organisation. Such training can lead to qualifications such as:

  • CISCO Associate, Professional and Expert
  • MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer)
  • MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator)
  • Certified Novell Administrator.

Network managers need constantly to update their skills and knowledge as developments within IT are so rapid.

Getting on

Network managers may be promoted to senior network manager and then to project manager.

They can choose to specialise in a technical, hands-on role or move into people or team management. Career structures vary from one organisation to another.

Experienced network managers can also use their business experience and knowledge to work as an IT consultant. They can move into lecturing or training or become self-employed and work as a contractor.

Further information

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA. 01793 417417. Website: www.bcs.org

e-skills UK, 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR. 020 7963 8920. Websites: www.e-skills.com and www.bigambition.co.uk

Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS), 5 Kingfisher House, New Mill Road, Orpington, Kent BR5 3QG. 0700 002 3456. Website: www.imis.org.uk

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

 

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