Network engineers work with large IT systems, ensuring that operations run smoothly for both companies that they work within and clients that they work for.
As a network engineer you are likely to work within one of the following:
Essentially, a network engineer optimises and ensures the productivity of IT systems within any organisation that relies on them – which in the 21st Century means almost every organisation. This means that there are many career opportunities for those with these highly specialised IT skills.
Whilst most of the time network engineers will work set office hours (approximately 9am to 5pm), the nature of technology means that sometimes you will need to be on call outside of these hours should a problem occur.
As an engineering apprentice you are likely to earn around £200 per week.
Once you start a full-time job as a network engineer you should earn around £19,000, rising to £35,000 with a few years’ experience.
Since their skills are essential and much sought-after, the earning potential for engineers is high – depending on location, senior engineers with a lot of experience and skill could earn between £50,000 and £100,000 per year.
If you want to start your career as a network engineer straight after GCSE or A-Levels, your best route is an apprenticeship. This will see you working in a real company for part of the week receiving the practical training you need, whilst spending the rest of the week in college working towards your qualifications.
If you want to go to university, almost all institutions can offer the degrees that are needed. The best degrees to take include:
You will need to study maths, science and/or IT-based subjects at A-Level, although if you have taken a BTEC or another more practice-based qualification this will also be accepted by some universities.
The top skill requirements for engineers are practical – you will need to be focused, good with your hands, and of course have the scientific and/or IT knowledge and expertise required to diagnose problems and rectify them.
Other essential skills include:
You should try to get as much work experience as possible, as aside from giving you on-the-job experience and practical skill will also prepare you for taking on a job role later.
If you decide to take on an apprenticeship the work experience aspect of your training will be covered by the time you spend with your employer.
Likewise, if you decide to go to university it is likely that your course will include a sandwich, in which you will be able to work within a company learning the skills needed.
Aside from this, you should approach companies and ask if you can go in for work experience or work shadowing during your school or university holidays.