Network Manager

The Job and What's Involved

A network manager is responsible for an organisation's computer network system.

A network is designed to give staff in an organisation access to files and documents, corporate systems and email, and access to the Internet.

Network managers may be part of a company or work for an outside agency providing external network support to clients. Depending on the size and function of the organisation, there can be more than one network. There are two main types of networks:

Local Area Networks (LANs), which link offices and computer terminals in one building across a limited area.

Wide Area Networks (WANS), which link computers nationally or internationally.

Network managers are responsible for the following areas:

  • Designing, testing and installing networks.
  • The maintenance and administration of the network, for example ensuring that all data is backed up.
  • The long-term growth and development of the network.
  • Ensuring systems are secure to prevent access by unwanted users or keep out hackers.
  • Managing technical staff working on the networks - from monitoring workloads and personal development, to dealing with rotas to cover the system at all times.
  • Controlling budgets and analysing costs - usually they will have to present their recommendations to senior management.
  • Devising a disaster recovery plan, to ensure continuity of service in case of a serious event.

Network managers work closely with other members of an organisation's IT team, often including project mangers, engineers and support staff. They may spend time in meetings with clients looking at how to provide a more efficient service. In a large organisation there may be several network managers, each working on a different area. In a small organisation, the network manager can often get involved in all areas of the network, including administration and maintenance.

As a result of the continued growth and expansion in IT, this is a varied role which is challenging and ever changing.

Network managers work between 37 and 40 hours a week, 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Additional hours may be required when installing new networks or upgrading, which could include weekends and evenings. Network managers may also need to be on call to deal with any breakdowns.

It is usual to work in an open plan office. There may be a limited amount of travelling. Smart casual or business dress would usually be expected.

The average starting salary is around £24,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The IT industry is a rapidly expanding global market place - there are currently over 1.2 million staff working in IT and telecommunications. Network managers are employed across all industry sectors, from finance, retail and IT consultancies, to public organisations and local government. There are job opportunities throughout the UK, with a higher concentration in south-east England. There are vacancies with large and small businesses and opportunities overseas.

Vacancies are advertised on company and recruitment websites, and in trade publications such as Computer Weekly and Computing. The local and national press also advertise positions. Recruitment agencies are an excellent way of finding job opportunities.

Education and Training

Employers usually expect a degree-level education, which may have been supported by relevant work experience and vocational skills.

There are a range of qualifications which provide a good grounding in IT. These include:

BTEC National Diploma in Computer Studies, IT or Networking - applicants need four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) or equivalent qualifications.

SQA National Certificate in IT - the entry qualifications are four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3).

BTEC/SQA higher national diplomas (HND's) - colleges ask for one A level/two H grades and four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or sometimes BTEC/SQA national certificates/diplomas in relevant subjects.

City & Guilds Higher Professional Diploma in Information Management using ICT, Level 4.

Degrees in IT, computing, programming, software engineering and other subjects: applicants need at least two A levels/three H grades or equivalent qualifications - employers consider academic degree courses such as maths, physics and arts/humanities degrees if candidates have IT skills and a flair for logical problem solving.

Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) BSc Honours Degree, combining a degree with leading-edge learning, teaching and assessment methodologies designed in partnership with premier companies of the IT world.

National certificate/diploma and HND courses normally last two years. Degree courses usually last three years full time or four years for sandwich courses, including a work placement. Please check with individual universities for entry requirements.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Network managers train on the job. Their training includes in-house courses, and qualifications through professional bodies and private sector suppliers. It is vital to keep abreast of new IT developments, systems and languages.

Professional qualifications can be obtained from various bodies, which include the British Computer Society (BCS), Cisco and Microsoft. The courses are expensive but will usually be funded by the employer. Qualifications include:

- CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate)
- CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional)
- CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert)
- MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer)
- MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator)

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A network manager should:

  • Have strong IT skills.
  • Have an excellent understanding of the business environment in which they work.
  • Keep up to date with advances in IT and technology.
  • Have good interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Work well on their own or in a team.
  • Be able to lead others.
  • Be able to work to tight deadlines.
  • Be thorough and precise in their work.
  • Enjoy trouble shooting and solving problems logically.
  • Be able to use their initiative.
  • Be able to manage a financial budget.
  • Know how to manage projects.

Your Long Term Prospects

There are excellent prospects and promotion opportunities, and often good financial rewards. Network managers may be promoted to senior network manager and then to project manager.

They can choose to specialise in a technical, hands-on role or move into people or team management. The career structure will vary from one organisation to another.

Experienced network managers can also use their business experience and knowledge to work as an IT consultant. They can move into lecturing or training, or become self-employed and work as a contractor.

Get Further Information

The British Computer Society,
First Floor, Block D, North Star House,
North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA
Tel: 01793 417417

e-skills UK,
1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR
Tel: 020 7963 8920

Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS),
5 Kingfisher House, New Mill Road,
Orpington, Kent BR5 3QG
Tel: 0700 002 3456

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