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  • Two men are standing in a room with many large computer cabinets.  There are lots of different-coloured cables coming out of one of the cabinets in the foreground.  One of the men is typing on a computer console keyboard.

    Network Engineers are responsible for the performance, availability and security of computer networks.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, looking at a computer screen.  On the screen there is a colourful spreadsheet.  On the desk, there is a paper printout of the spreadsheet.

    Managing the network training budget.

  • Two men are standing by a desk in an office.  On the desk there is some computer equipment, along with various cables and boxes.  One of the men is holding a computer cable.

    Setting up a test network for training.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, looking at a set of paper plans.  He is highlighting something on one of the plans with a yellow marker pen.

    Planning an extension to the computer network in a new building on the site.

  • Two men are standing in a room with many large computer cabinets.  There are many different-coloured cables coming out of the cabinets.  One of the men is typing on a laptop that has been connected to the network by a long purple cable.

    Checking on a problem with the network.

  • A man wearing a striped shirt is sitting at a desk, typing on a computer keyboard and looking at the screen.  There are various paper charts and lists on the wall behind the desk.

    Writing a report for senior managers.

  • Two men are standing in a room containing large computer cabinets.  There are lots of different-coloured cables coming out of one of the cabinets in the background.  One of the men is typing on a computer console keyboard.  The other man is watching and smiling.

    Checking the firewall security log.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, reading a journal called Networking.  He is making notes on a yellow memo pad.

    Keeping up to date with new developments in computer networking.

Computer Network Manager - deprecated

Introduction

Computer network managers develop, support and maintain the computer networks used in many organisations. A network is a group of computers linked together, usually through a powerful central computer called a file server.

Also known as

  • Network Manager

Work Activities

Computer network managers design, develop, maintain and support the computer networks used in many large organisations. A network is a group of computers linked with one another, usually through powerful central computers known as file servers.

Networking offers a number of possible advantages for organisations, for example:

  • The staff of the organisation can share information and resources. Staff teams can work together on a project or document, even if they are based in several different offices.
  • Data (for example, about customers, total number of sales/enquiries, financial information) can be collected and analysed centrally.
  • Equipment such as printers and scanners can be shared among a number of users.
  • Staff can communicate easily, using email across the network.

Network managers have overall responsibility for one or more computer networks. Organisations might have several networks: for example, a local area network (LAN) within an office or department, and a wide area network (WAN) linking all the organisation's branches across the UK or worldwide.

Network managers are responsible for staff who perform tasks such as connecting new users to the network, issuing passwords and removing log-ins for staff who have left the organisation. Managers monitor the performance of the network to make sure that all systems are operating in the most efficient way.

They make sure the network is secure, risks are analysed and minimised and that only people with the proper authorisation can have access. They usually have overall responsibility for the selection, maintenance and updating of firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spam protection.

Network managers are responsible for disaster recovery planning. An important responsibility is checking that regular back-ups are performed. At the end of the day (or overnight), all the current data on the network has to be saved on to a separate storage device.

This is then kept in a secure place, well away from the main file servers. In the event of an accident or network failure the following day, all data up to the previous night can be restored from the back-up.

When there are problems with the network, managers are responsible for investigations to try to resolve them as quickly as possible. To do this, they might need to negotiate with, and work with, hardware and software suppliers and specialist agencies such as internet access providers. They might allocate this work to members of their staff.

Computer network managers are usually involved in budgeting and forward planning, including updating network hardware and software in accordance with the organisation's current and predicted needs. They research new technologies and produce reports for senior managers. They develop the network so that the future demand for IT can be met.

Managers might also have to visit other offices and sites, for example, when network hardware and software is being installed or updated.

Computer network managers typically supervise a small team of network administrators, technicians and support workers. They have an in-depth knowledge of computer systems, as well as business knowledge and some programming and telecommunications skills.

When there are problems, network managers might have to work outside normal office hours. They could also be 'on-call' at other times, in case there is an emergency, such as a systems failure.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As a computer network manager, you'll need to be able to:

  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of network hardware and software.
  • Keep up to date with new technologies.
  • Manage budgets.
  • Organise and prioritise workloads.
  • Lead, supervise, develop and motivate your team.
  • Negotiate with hardware and software suppliers.
  • Analyse information and assess risks.
  • Plan ahead to avoid, or be prepared for, problems.
  • Manage projects.
  • Solve problems.
  • Cope with stress, especially when the network is not working correctly.

You will need good written and spoken communication skills together with numeracy and time-management skills.

For some jobs, you might need a driving licence if you have to travel between sites.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

Salaries vary depending on role and responsibilities. The pay rates given below are approximate.

Salaries are in the range of £26,000 - £33,500 a year, rising to £42,500 - £55,000. Higher earners can make over £70,000 a year.

Salaries might include performance-related pay, profit share or company bonuses.

Hours of work

Computer network managers usually work a basic 37-hour week, Monday to Friday. Late finishes and weekend work might be required, and they could be called out to deal with emergencies.

Where could I work?

Employers include those in industry and commerce, including banks, building societies and insurance companies, and in the public sector with local and central government departments and the NHS. Network managers are also employed in universities and colleges.

Opportunities for computer network managers occur in towns and cities throughout the UK. A significant number of vacancies for IT and telecoms professionals are in London and the South East of England.

What's happening in this work area?

The IT industry is predicted to grow much faster than the rest of the UK workforce over the next decade. The recession has affected the IT industry, but overall it has emerged in a very strong position.

One reason for this strength is the realisation, by the global economy, of the importance of IT in helping businesses to survive the recession and economic downturn. Investment in technology is also viewed by many as a way for public bodies to become more efficient.

There is a shortage of candidates with IT skills and qualifications in the UK.

Future skills needsTechnical skills are highly important in this industry. However, employers have also highlighted the need for the following non-technical skills:

  • teamworking skills
  • good communication skills
  • business skills.

Self-employment

There can be opportunities for experienced network project managers and network architects to work on a freelance or consultancy basis - usually on short-term contracts.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on specialist IT job boards and employers' websites, in computing magazines and professional journals, in local/national newspapers, on Universal Jobmatch and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Most computer network managers have a relevant degree and/or postgraduate qualification, such as network management, computer systems and networks, networks and security, or network technology, for example.

Many entrants also have skills gained in a role such as IT support engineer, network technician or network administrator.

An Advanced  and Higher Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start.

Different courses have different emphases, and it is important to check prospectuses carefully to find those courses most likely to meet your future career hopes.

Full-time and part-time foundation degrees and full-time HNDs are offered in various computing and network subjects.

A number of universities offer the Information Technology Management for Business degree that has been jointly developed with major employers. Some universities and employers offer internships or student placements that develop business, communication and interpersonal skills.

New entrants often have additional skills in systems analysis or network administration/support, together with the CompTIA Network+ or similar qualification.

Training

Many network managers study part-time for further qualifications, for example, the professional qualifications of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, or the Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS).

They might also study for qualifications relevant to the specific networks and systems used in their organisation, for example, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), or Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). Studying for these qualifications typically involves attending short, intensive courses at specially accredited training centres.

Progression

Computer network managers can progress to senior IT management posts after further experience.

Qualifications

Most computer network managers are graduates or holders of HNDs.

The usual requirement for entry to a relevant degree is:

  • 2/3 A levels (some courses ask for Maths or a science/technology subject)
  • GCSEs at grade C or above in 2/3 other subjects
  • English and Maths, and sometimes a science subject, at GCSE.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • Edexcel (BTEC) Level 3 National qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma (some courses ask for Maths and/or a science subject at Higher level).
To get onto an Advanced or Higher Level Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least five GCSEs at A* - C, including English and Maths, and possibly two A

Levels.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Entry

Some employers will consider applicants with broad relevant skills, even if they do not have the usual entry qualifications.

Some entrants have a background as a network technician or network administrator, sometimes gaining certified qualifications.

Courses

A range of manufacturer-accredited courses are available on an intensive basis, often flexible and part-time, including evenings and weekends.

A number of universities offer postgraduate degrees in related subjects by part-time study.

Access courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course, for example, Access to IT/Computing, could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Distance learning

Distance learning for computer networking professionals is available from Computeach. The Open University offers degrees and postgraduate qualifications in computing and networking subjects.

The University of Portsmouth offers degrees in Business Information Systems and also Computing and Information Systems by distance learning.

Queen Mary, University of London offers an MSc in Computing Information Systems by distance learning. The University of Liverpool offers the MSc in Information Systems Management.

Statistics

  • 4% of people in occupations such as computer network manager work part-time.
  • 17% have flexible hours.
  • 2% of employees work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.

The Tech Partnership

Skills for business and information technology

Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR

Tel: 020 7963 8920

Email: info@e-skills.com

Website: www.e-skills.com

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090

Website: www.open.ac.uk

Inside Careers

Specialists in graduate careers

Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU

Tel: 020 7565 7900

Website: www.insidecareers.co.uk

BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT

Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA

Tel: 0845 3004417

Email: custsupport@bcs.uk

Website: www.bcs.org

Big Ambition

Email: bigambition@e-skills.com

Website: www.bigambition.co.uk

Bring IT On

Irish enquiries

Website: www.bringitonni.info

Guardian Technology

Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU

Tel: 020 3353 2000

Email: tech@guardian.co.uk

Website: www.guardian.co.uk/technology

Computeach

Address: University House, Jews Lane, Gornal, Dudley, West Midlands DY3 2AH

Tel: 01384 458515

Email: info@computeach.co.uk

Website: www.computeach.co.uk

Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS)

Address: Suite A, (Part) 2nd Floor, 3 White Oak Square, Swanley, Kent BR8 7AG

Tel: 0845 8500006

Email: central@imis.org.uk

Website: www.imis.org.uk/information/careers_information

Professional Issues in Information Technology

Author: Frank Bott Publisher: Chartered Institute for IT (BCS)

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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