People in network engineering jobs are responsible for the construction and development of IT infrastructure and hardware pertaining to computer networks. They will connect with site operators in order to determine their needs within a network, then build a solution to meet their needs: whether it is a small wired network or a much larger wireless network.
A job as a network engineer can open up a range of other possibilities in the future, it can be a way to dip your toe into the world of IT. You’ll essentially be working on the ‘digital plumbing’ that holds both small and large organisations together, however, you’ll be exposed to many different facets of IT.
That being said, what are the salary expectations of the field? Let’s take a look.
The average starting salary of a network engineer is £19,000. While this is quite modest in comparison to other IT positions, experience generally yields a substantial increase in pay and it is not unusual for senior network engineers to earn in excess of £50,000. The average salary for a network engineer is £47,500 and they account for 1.36% of all IT jobs advertised in the UK. Of course salary will depend on a number of factors such as the size, sector, and type of business engineers are employed by and indeed the size and scope of the projects they will be working on.
Another method to help expand your options as a network engineer and also increase your salary is to gain a certification. There are several certifications that can be applied for, it also helps if you have a good amount of on the job training - but this isn’t a must. The certifications that you could apply for are:
- CompTIA Network+
- CCNA Routing and Switching
- CCNP Routing and Switching
- Networking Collection
- Juniper Networks Certified Associate
- CCNA Collaboration
- CCNA Security
- CCNP Security
Any one of this would demonstrate your commitment to the role as well as your expertise in whichever your choose to specialise in.
The inherent value of IT infrastructure generally yields a much higher salary, too. Therefore, location plays a critical role in salary expectations and those employed within large urban centres can generally expect to be earning substantially more than those employed in smaller towns or even rural locations. Currently, the most well-paid network engineers can be found in London, Edinburgh, and Leeds.
Self-employment opportunities do exist as a network engineer, but freelance work is considered quite rare in the field and should not be expected. It is generally acknowledged that freelance opportunities generally stem from substantial experience where industry contacts have been built and maintained.
Network engineers typically work a sociable schedule and are often on call for up to 40 hours a week. However, it is not unusual for calls to take place outside of office hours, on weekends, or in the late evening and flexibility is therefore extremely important when considering this position. Network issues can creep up unexpectedly and engineers will be required to support them as quickly as possible, which means weekend plans can become interrupted rather easily. This responsibility is usually shared as a part of a job rota with other network engineers and usually disappears altogether after reaching a more senior level.
Jobs are generally widely available across the United Kingdom in organisations with sophisticated IT infrastructure and systems. Employment opportunities can also be found through agencies, where consultancy work is often widely available.
Network engineers sometimes work very stressful and pressured days and this stress level can reach an all-time high when they are working on troubling tasks, which is often the case. When things go wrong, the engineers are in to sort it out as companies are so dependent on their systems and their working function.
As a consultant, network engineers may spend quite a bit of time in their clients' offices and working on larger installations alongside other engineers. This can mean working for quite a bit of time away from home. It is important to take this into consideration since varying work locations can be perceived as unpleasant to some workers.
Other engineers may find work directly in-house for a specific organisation. This means travelling away as a part of the job will be far less likely, but it is unlikely that engineers will spend much time around their own particular workstation since they will be required to troubleshoot problems within different departments. This is often expected within the role and is usually an attractive proposition to some workers.