Networks are integral to the functioning of every business and expertise in the role is increasingly sought after by IT leaders. There is clear demand for these skills and research undertaken by HR giant Robert Half shows UK CIOs rank networking as one of the top five challenging areas to recruit for.
Behind every sizable network sits a team of professionals responsible for keeping things running smoothly. Networking covers a massive range of technology, from local wired and wireless network design to mobile/BYOD and cloud.
As the industry now focuses on shifting to software, code, and open systems – networking remains as crucial as ever. In 2017, migration from hardware to cloud-based storage is fuelling demand for the networking skills needed to support these transitions.
For passionate tech experts, a networking role is an opportunity to develop a rewarding career backed by a great salary. These are the jobs every networking professional should be aiming for.
Senior Network Engineer – £52,500
Network Engineers are responsible for the front line implementation, maintenance, support and development of network technology within an organisation. This is a high pressure role, which requires fire-fighting to resolve issues and prevent outages that could have severe effects across the business.
Network Engineers in senior positions will be expected to keep pace as advances in software defined networking (SDN) and delivery processes like DevOps mean a range of skills are needed to achieve this senior role.
These senior networking professionals will need the skills necessary to work under their own initiative without supervision. This role also places an onus on communications skills to work with both engineers and non-technical customers and colleagues.
Senior Engineers may also be responsible for leading a team of engineers. They’ll be the de-facto expert, available to other engineers for coaching and assistance on projects. This senior role will net professionals a median salary of £52,500 (IT Jobs Watch).
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Network Architect – £67,500
“People at the architect level are sought after, and there’s not much talent that’s available…For an engineer who wants to make that move, there’s opportunity out there,” says Dan Scandalito, division lead of network services at TEKsystems.
Whereas Engineers are responsible for network implementation and maintenance, Network Architects are responsible for the strategy behind an organisation’s network.
Ultimately, Network Architects are responsible for designing, planning and overseeing the creation and testing of computer networks, from local area networks (LANs) to wide area networks (WANs).
The job role differs greatly depending on the employer. In small companies, Network Architects may take over hands-on duties usually given to network engineers; in large enterprises, the job will focus exclusively on the design and topology of a network, as opposed to implementing and troubleshooting.
Network Architects may also specialise their roles to focus on working with Cisco routing and switching technologies.
As the largest manufacturer of networking equipment and services, technical Cisco knowledge is highly valued by organisations worldwide. To this end, Cisco Network Architects will be expected to hold some of Cisco’s own networking credentials, like the Cisco CCNA.
Like Network Engineers, this role is high pressure. Network failures could be traced back to faulty designs or poor vendor selection – both of which are typically within the Architect’s domain.
There’s a lot more on the line, but with average median salaries of £67,500 (IT Jobs Watch), these are highly prized roles.
Cloud Network Architect – £75,000
Businesses worldwide are impatient to take advantage of the benefits of cloud technology. But cloud migration is challenging; for large organisations and enterprises it can be a titanic task.
Better internet access and more reliable WAN bandwidth has made it easier for organisations to migrate network management into the cloud. This is a driver of cloud computing services, which in turn spurs demand for cloud networking as users look for easier ways to build networks with the benefits of cloud.
Because of this, the role played by Cloud Network Architects has become increasingly important. These skilled professionals play a fundamental role in cloud networking – responsible for both physical network infrastructure and virtual networks that can be used in the cloud.
These professionals will have a wealth of experience in cloud networking infrastructure design and implementation and will need great communications skills to advise clients how to solve complex cloud networking challenges.
They’ll also need a deep understanding of cloud (and networking) technologies including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service and software defined networks (SDN).
The expert knowledge required, coupled with increased demand, fuels an impressive £75,000 median salary (IT Jobs Watch) for Cloud Network Architects.
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Senior Network Security Consultant – £80,000
As small businesses work to get their critical networks online and enterprises continue to adapt more advanced networking technology, networking contractors are in high demand.
With the complexity of networks comes vulnerability – unexpected interactions between systems create vulnerabilities, putting businesses at risk from malicious intruders.
Thankfully, businesses have access to the highly specialised skillsets of Network Security Consultants. If network security issues are encountered, businesses (especially SMEs) often turn to these external professionals.
Network Security Consultants are hired to evaluate vulnerabilities in network infrastructure and devising methods of protecting them.
These professionals will need to be experts in analysis tools like Wireshark and have knowledge of TCP/IP, TKIP, IPSEC and high-level communication protocols. Adaptable consultants must also be familiar with Juniper Network’s Junos or Cisco’s router control software.
Network Security Consultants will also work with networks designed and built by someone else, so they’ll need the know-how to reverse engineer these intricate systems.
Consultants are their own boss, but with steady work, IT Jobs Watch predicts an average median salary of £80,000.
Head of Networks – £102,500
This is the top job in networking and only the most determined and talented professionals will achieve it. These professionals will ultimately be responsible for the uptime of all core network equipment across the business whilst guiding networking strategy.
The Head of Networks also provides networking expertise and strategy, as well as technical thought leadership to the business.
These professionals are the interface between senior management and all network activities, so the ability to translate technical networking jargon into understandable business strategies is key.
As the Head of Networks plays a key role in the transformation of networking, this role may also require experience in DevOps and an awareness of new technologies.
Professionals holding this top level role can expect to earn a median salary of £102,500. This information is based on an average of 8 quoted UK Head of Network salaries at the time of publication. There is range for this role to earn less or considerably more than the average, depending on organisation size.