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How to become a Network Engineer

network engineer careers

What does a Network Engineer do?

Network engineers, sometimes known as network administrators, are responsible for installing and maintaining computer communication networks within an organisation or between organisations. Engineers can be found in any area of commerce and industry which relies upon IT systems. For example, an engineer may be responsible for installing and servicing a bank's ATM network. They may work as part of a company's in-house IT support team or for an IT networking consultancy firm, working with a number of clients.

There are four types of computer network:

  • local area networks (LANs), which link offices in one building or branches of the same company within a limited area
  • metropolitan area networks (MANs), link offices across a region
  • wide area networks (WANs), which link nationally or internationally
  • global area networks (GANs), combine all of the above with satellite mobile communications technologies.

In setting up a network for a client, the engineer works with the network manager or general IT manager in designing and configuring systems that optimise performance and manage capacity to meet client business needs. Once installed, network engineers may continue to be involved in the day-to-day administration of the system.

Typical duties include:
  • installation and support for new software and hardware
  • setting up user-accounts, permissions and passwords
  • maintaining adequate security, especially where networks link to the internet
  • monitoring network usage
  • fault diagnosis and rectification
  • implementing preventative maintenance schedules
  • technical support for end-users
  • providing training on new systems
  • working with other IT professionals in day-to-day administration and monitoring of networks
  • planning and implementing future developments.

What's the working environment like working as a Network Engineer?

Network engineers normally work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. They may need to work outside office hours when installing systems to minimise disruption to a client's service. Engineers are often on-call to cover breakdowns outside normal working hours.

Work is normally office-based and may be at one site or, if involved in a large network operation, involve travelling between sites.

What does it take to become a Network Engineer?

As a network engineer, you should:

  • have excellent IT skills
  • have excellent analytical skills
  • be able to prioritise tasks
  • be able to explain technical issues clearly
  • be able to work within a team
  • have good interpersonal skills
  • have an excellent working knowledge of networking technologies and be able to keep up to date with latest developments.

Network Engineer Career Opportunities

Networking engineers work in a variety of sectors including finance, retail, local and national government, the health service and utility companies. Opportunities exist within larger IT firms, either dealing with the company's own systems or working in their contract services.

With experience, engineers can progress to network management roles or, with additional training, move into other areas of IT such as project management.

A popular progression route is consultancy work as a network analyst, either with an IT consultancy firm or on a self-employed basis.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Network Engineer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

e-skills UK
1 Castle Lane
London
SW1E 6DR
www.e-skills.com

British Computer Society
1 Sanford Street
Swindon
Wiltshire
SN1 1HJ
www.bcs.org.uk

The Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)
www.comptia.org

Cisco Systems (UK and Ireland)
www.cisco.com/global/uk

Microsoft UK
www.microsoft.com/uk

Novell UK
www.novell.com/offices/emea/uk

Facts and Stats:

  • There are 76.5m Internet users in the USA.