As a network engineer, you'll have responsibility for setting up, developing and maintaining computer networks within an organisation or between organisations. You'll offer support to users, who can be staff, clients, customers and suppliers, and troubleshoot any problems that arise. This may, in some cases, involve designing new networks.
Your aim is to ensure the integrity of high availability network infrastructure to provide maximum performance for your users.You may work internally as part of an organisation's IT support team, or externally as part of an outsourced IT networking consultancy firm working with a number of clients.
As a network engineer, you'll need to:
establish the networking environment by designing system configuration, directing system installation and defining, documenting and enforcing system standards
design and implement new solutions and improve resilience of the current environment
maximise network performance by monitoring performance, troubleshooting network problems and outages, scheduling upgrades and collaborating with network architects on network optimisation
undertake data network fault investigations in local and wide area environments using information from multiple sources
secure network systems by establishing and enforcing policies, and defining and monitoring access
support and administer firewall environments in line with IT security policy
report network operational status by gathering and prioritising information and managing projects
upgrade data network equipment to the latest stable firmware releases
configure routing and switching equipment, hosted IP voice services and firewalls
provide remote support to on-site engineers and end users/customers during installation
provide remote troubleshooting and fault finding if issues occur upon initial installation
undertake capacity management and audit of IP addressing and hosted devices within data centres
liaise with project management teams, third-line engineers and service desk engineers on a regular basis
speak to customers via email and phone for initial requirement capture.
Salaries at entry level start at around £19,000 to £20,000.
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.
Benefits can include a pension, car allowance, private health insurance and a bonus scheme.
Salary depends on the size, type and sector of the organisation you work for, and the size and scope of its computer and network installations. The value of the IT infrastructure also affects salary, so network engineers
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an up-to-date knowledge and understanding of your employer's business and industry needs, as well as the technical demands
to recognise the importance of customer focus and/or of serving the needs of the end user
excellent communication skills, particularly the ability to communicate with staff who aren't technically trained
the skill to take on a variety of tasks and pay attention to detail
analytical and problem-solving ability
teamwork skills and the ability to feel comfortable working with different teams, clients and groups of staff across an organisation
organisational skills and the ability to prioritise your workload.
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Due to the rapidly-changing nature of the industry and the skills needed, you'll need to make training a constant part of your career development.
Large companies may send you on training courses and will provide training as they introduce new systems or expand their IT facilities.
However, you'll often have to seek out appropriate training for yourself, especially if you're seeking promotion, a career move or are self-employed.
Relevant qualifications include:
Cisco Certification Program - available at entry (CCENT), associate, (CCNA), professional (CCNP), expert (CCIE) and architect (highest level of accreditation achievable) levels
CompTIA Certifications - including CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+
Juniper Networks Certification Program (JNCP) - available at associate, specialist, professional and expert levels
Microsoft Certifications - including Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and the higher-level Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE).
Having gained experience, you can progress to senior network manager and network management positions. Some network engineers choose to broaden their careers into other IT, customer-related or management functions. Technical or infrastructure project management and network architecture are possibilities.
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