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Network engineer: Job description

Network engineers are responsible for installing, maintaining and supporting computer communication networks within an organisation or between organisations. Their goal is to ensure the smooth operation of communication networks in order to provide maximum performance and availability for their users, such as staff, clients, customers and suppliers.

Network engineers may work internally as part of an organisation’s IT support team or externally as part of an IT networking consultancy firm working with a number of clients.

Other job titles used to refer to this kind of work include network support, support engineer, IT support engineer, helpdesk support, network administrator, first-line support, second-line support, security engineer and network architect.

Typical work activities

The work is influenced by the size and type of the employing organisation. In a large investment bank for example, a network engineer may have specific responsibility for one area of the system. In a small company, the engineer may be troubleshooter for almost any IT-related problem that arises.

There are different types of network, such as:

  • LANs - local area networks, linking a limited area such as a home, office or small group of buildings;
  • MANs - metropolitan area networks, linking a large area such as a campus or city;
  • WANs - wide area networks, which link nationally or internationally;
  • GANs - global area networks, combining all of the above with satellite mobile-communication technologies.

The type of network will affect the engineer's responsibilities.

Typical tasks usually include:

  • installing, supporting and maintaining new server hardware and software infrastructure;
  • managing email, anti-spam and virus protection;
  • setting up user accounts, permissions and passwords;
  • monitoring network usage;
  • ensuring the most cost-effective and efficient use of servers;
  • suggesting and providing IT solutions to business and management problems;
  • ensuring that all IT equipment complies with industry standards;
  • analysing and resolving faults, ranging from a major system crash to a forgotten password;
  • undertaking routine preventative measures and implementing, maintaining and monitoring network security, particularly if the network connects to the internet;
  • providing training and technical support for users with varying levels of IT knowledge and competence;
  • supervising other staff, such as help-desk technicians;
  • working closely with other departments/organisations and collaborating with other IT staff;
  • planning and implementing future IT developments and undertaking project work;
  • managing the website and keeping internal networks running;
  • monitoring the use of the web by employees.

Posts entitled 'technical support' usually include responsibility for other IT equipment, such as printers and scanners.


Further information

Written by AGCAS editors
February 2012

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