Summary of occupation
Network engineers set-up and maintain the infrastructure of a computer network. They work on a range of computer networks including, Local Area Networks (LANS), which link a small number of computers in an office environment, right through to Global Area Networks (GANS) which links smaller networks with satellite communication technologies to create mobile, global networks. In addition to installing and maintaining the hardware that makes up these networks, network engineers also arrange access for users, monitor network usage and maintain network security to ensure only authorised users have access. They may also provide technical support to network users.
Plans, develops, deploys, tests and optimises network and system services, taking responsibility for configuration management and overall operational readiness of network systems, especially environments with multiple operating systems and configurations, and provides troubleshooting and fault-finding services for network problems.
A network engineer needs:
- good communication skills
- a logical approach to problem solving
- a high level of patience
- an interest in electronics and computers
- to keep up-to-date with technological advances
In Western Australia the majority of network engineers work in offices in the Perth metropolitan region. Depending on the size of the network they are working on they may work in a single office, or be required to travel to between a number of sites around the state, country or even the world. They usually work standard office hours, though weekend and evening work may be required when installing new networks or performing major upgrades on existing ones. Some network engineers may have on-call duties in case of network problems that occur outside of normal office hours.
Graduate network engineers, classified under IT, telecommunications and electronics engineer, can expect to earn approximately $961 per week ($50 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for. With experience their earning potential may increase substantially.
Network engineers may work with a range of network technologies including, Ethernet, ISDN, ADSL and wireless technologies. They also use a range of software programs to monitor usage of the network and maintain security, such as firewalls and anti-virus software.
To become a network engineer you usually have to complete a qualification in networking and computer engineering.
The Diploma of Information Technology Networking is offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia (WA).
You may improve your employment prospects if you complete a degree in engineering with a major in computer systems or computer systems engineering.
Most universities in WA offer relevant degrees. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.