Network engineers plan, construct, and manage computer networks inside and across organizations.
You’ll help users, who might be workers, clients, customers, or suppliers, and resolve any emerging difficulties. In other cases, this may necessitate the establishment of new networks.
Your aim is to ensure the integrity of high-availability network infrastructure to provide your users with the best possible performance.
You might be part of an organisation’s IT support team or an outsourced IT networking consulting firm with several clients.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- decide how data is sent across computer networks
- set up accounts, permissions and passwords for users
- make sure security is at the right level to block unauthorised access
- find and fix network faults
- give technical support to people who use the network
- train staff on new systems
- plan and implement future developments
- record the decisions you make.
- Salaries as an apprentice start at around £19,000 to £21,000.
- With experience, you can expect to earn around £35,000 to £55,000+.
- Senior network engineers can earn from £50,000 to in excess of £70,000 a year. Salaries for experienced contract workers may be higher and rates can vary from £175 to in excess of £500 per day.
You’ll typically work a standard week, 38 to 40 hours a week. However, you may be on call outside office hours, at weekends or in the evenings, and need to be flexible in case of major technical problems occurring.
You could work in an office or at a client’s business.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice network engineer include:
- Level 4 Network Engineer – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship. This qualification takes 30 months to complete.
On a network engineer apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
- analytical thinking skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work well with others
- to be flexible and open to change
- the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
- to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications.
You can work for any organisation with large, sophisticated IT systems. Typical employers include:
- banks and building societies
- retail groups
- large government departments
- schools, hospitals and local authorities
- utility companies
- transport providers
- management consultancies.
Many local governments and other public sector bodies outsource their IT systems to experts.
A large IT company may engage network engineers to manage their systems or to work on contract services.
Large firms, such as Microsoft, provide a broad range of installation and customer support services, and they recruit graduates and experienced IT experts in all fields.
A plethora of small consultancies also set up and maintain systems for organisations that are too tiny to warrant full-time IT assistance.
Because the industry and the skills necessary are constantly changing, you’ll need to make training a regular part of your professional development.
When new systems are launched or IT facilities are developed, large organisations may send you on training courses.
However, whether you seek a promotion, a job change, or are self-employed, you will often need to seek out adequate training.
The scale of the organisation you work for, as well as the breadth of its IT systems, will have an impact on your career path.
As you gain experience, you can move to senior network manager and network management positions. Some network engineers want to further their careers by working in IT, customer service, or management. There are alternatives for technical or infrastructure project management and network architecture.
Help-desk technicians may move to network engineer roles, senior network support, and network controller positions (mainly involved in decision-making, staff management and advice on future strategy). This might be regular operating practice in a large organisation, such as a bank or government agency.
If you work for a small organisation, you may be the only network controller, in addition to other IT and technical support responsibilities.
There are additional chances for self-employment and IT contracting.