As a network manager, yours is a role of two halves. You’ll be responsible for installing and maintaining your company's computer networks, and also to train staff to provide first rate technical support.
If there are problems with the system, it’ll be down to you to have a recovery plan to minimise any disruption to the business. As most organisations are becoming increasingly reliant on technology, this makes your role particularly vital to the smooth running of the business.
Depending on the size of the organisation you may have more than one type of network to manage. As well as existing systems, you may also need to help develop new systems to assist with the continued growth of the company.
You'll work as part of an IT team with project managers, network engineers and support staff. You could also be asked to attend meetings to discuss the IT needs of the business, from an operational or profit/service related viewpoint.
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As many companies are reliant on technology you could choose to work in house, or for a specialist company with a range of clients - depending on your personal preferences.
You could also specialise in working for a business that manufactures computers and IT systems or the installation and servicing of computer networks.
As a Network Manager, once you gain enough experience you can progress to become a senior network manager. Alternatively, you could move into a career in project management, business analysis, systems architecture or freelance consultancy. The benefit of freelance work is that it offers you a high amount of working flexibility and can fit around your lifestyle.
Being a network manager is a varied role as it combines both strong IT and leadership skills. Employers will expect you to have the following:
• In-depth knowledge of all networks, especially those used by the company
• Interpersonal skills and experience in presenting
• Problem solving and project management experience
• Negotiation skills
• Team working skills
• Understanding of business
• Financial planning and budgeting experience
Training to become a network manager can start straight from school, provided you have good GCSE grades in English, Maths, IT and Science. Although a degree or BTEC HND in a relevant computer course can give you an advantage.
To enter the profession at network manager level you'll need a proven track record, and relevant experience such as a previous role as a network engineer, IT support technician or IT manager.
If you're moving into a network management role from an existing job, experience in management is particularly useful, but a management course would be equally as valuable.
Your level of training will vary depending if you’re on a trainee scheme or enter directly at network manager level. However, it’s likely to include a mix of in house courses and qualifications through professional bodies. It's vital you keep up to speed with the latest in technical developments as the industry changes so fast.
Recognised, relevant courses that can help you stay up to date with new languages, software and programs include: City & Guilds Higher Professional Diploma for IT Practitioners, OCR Higher Level award for IT professionals, BTEC/HND in Computing and NVQs for IT professionals.
Hours and environment
As a Network Manager, you’ll often work 37 to 40 hours a week in and office or between office sites. When a new system is being installed it may be necessary to work out of hours or at the weekend to minimise disruption to the office.
It’s possibly you’ll be on call during the evenings to manage any network problems, but this is usually on a rota basis.
The average starting salary as a network manager is approximately £24,000 to £31,000, but will reflect your experience and qualifications. With more experience, your annual salary will rise to around £33,500 to £47,000.
Senior Network Managers with strategic responsibilities can earn over £50,000
Contracting and freelance work usually require some specialist skills which mean you can earn a higher salary.
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