Network engineer

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Network administrator

Network engineers design, implement and maintain the way data is transferred across digital and telecommunications networks.

Salary Range: £18,000 to £40,000

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How to become a network engineer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
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University

You could take a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:

  • network engineering
  • computer science
  • electronic engineering
  • network security
  • software engineering

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

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College

You could do a college course, which may help you to get a network technician’s job. Once working, you could do more training to qualify as an engineer. Courses include:

  • Level 4 Certificate in Networking and Architecture
  • Level 4 Certificate in Network Services
  • Level 4 Diploma in Network Security

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, a level 3 diploma or relevant experience for a level 4 or level 5 course

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Apprenticeship

You may be able to do a network cable installer advanced apprenticeship, a network engineer higher apprenticeship, or a degree apprenticeship in digital and technology solutions.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

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Work

You could start as a network technician and take industry-recognised training and certification on the job, like Cisco Certified Network Associate or Professional or CompTIA Network+.

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Career tips

Experience in related areas like IT support or computer service and repair could be useful.

Further information

You can get more advice about careers in networking from Tech Future Careers and The Chartered Institute for IT.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your tasks may include:

  • designing the way data is sent or ‘routed’ across computer networks
  • setting up user accounts, permissions and passwords to allow access to the network
  • making sure security is at the right level to block unauthorised access
  • finding and fixing network faults
  • giving technical support to people who use the network
  • training staff on new systems
  • carrying out day-to-day administration
  • planning and implementing future developments
  • documenting the processes used in your job

Working environment

You could work in an office or at a client’s business.

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Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress into network management or you could move into other areas of IT like project management, information security or consultancy.