What does it take to become a network specialist?

It’s no secret that it’s a candidate’s market out there – particularly within the realm of IT. In fact, the global skills shortage is at a 16-year high making the industry even more attractive to get into. And as businesses continue to build momentum across their transformation projects, IT contracting is a particularly popular choice for many seeking a varied and lucrative career path.

So, what about networking? Well, it turns out these types of positions are in huge demand too! Senior IT Recruitment Consultant, Chris Byrne explains all.


Why are network specialists in such high demand right now?

“We’ve reached a point of acceleration. A lot of businesses are getting back to focusing their digital transformation projects – many of which were put on hold during the pandemic. So, what we’re seeing is a huge increase in demand for IT specialists in general,” says Chris.

“Network engineers and specialists are in particularly high demand because a lot of delayed projects and network upgrades are starting to be scheduled now. Some clients of ours are also growing their businesses and acquiring other companies along the way, which brings about a great need for these types of roles. When you merge several systems together that use different network and security technologies, companies need network experts to safely carry this out. It can be very complex and you need experienced individuals to complete these tasks successfully and securely.

We’re also seeing networks being moved more to a software defined model (SDN) to improve management, performance and monitoring – so this is also bringing about new projects.”


What are the different types of network specialist?

“Network specialists can be split out into three main categories. Network Engineers, Network Consultants and then you have Network Architects who are the most experienced. Furthermore, you’ll find there’s a range of different levels for all of these roles,” explains Chris.

“Network engineers perform ongoing support such as taking care of all the routers and switches, firewalls and any wireless infrastructure too. Network consultants perform more complex tasks such as implementing new infrastructure but more often than not this will have been previously designed by a network architect – so they’re the most experienced.”


What qualifications do you look for in network specialists?

“Cisco is one of the most mature and widespread networking technologies we see, so the Cisco CCNA qualification is a good starting point. However, along with focusing on qualifications, we really look for experience. Many Network Engineers specialise in particular vendor technologies – Cisco, Palo Alto, Check Point, HPE and Fortinet are the main ones our clients ask for. Experience too of different environments is also key. The same technology can be implemented in lots of different ways depending on a business’s needs and the size of the business will also impact how everything is set up.”


Is there much progression in network engineering?

“There’s a huge potential for progression within networking. There are a lot of different technologies and they’re always evolving too – there’s always something new to learn and specialists who have experience with these new technologies – as well as the more widespread technologies – are always in high-demand.”

“That’s also why contracting is so key in terms of career development – not just for networking but for any IT specialist. Contracting allows you to experience a multitude of IT environments so a network specialist who has a list of successful projects behind them, compared to a network specialist with the same number of years’ experience but from only one or two jobs, will be considered a lot more experienced and knowledgeable.”


What is the salary like?

“It’s a very well-paid area and as I said, it’s a candidates’ market so the salary range is extremely competitive. We always have a huge number of networking roles available, particularly in Dublin and in Cork. The majority of our clients are asking mainly for specialists who can work on a hybrid basis so a few days at home and then a couple of days onsite each week – that’s usually the requirement.

But any network specialist can come to us and we’ll keep them busy – there’s no worry there!”


Find out more

If you are a networking specialist looking for your next role, then the IT Recruitment Specialists here at itContracting are the best people to speak to. Whether you’re seeking permanent or contracting positions, we can help, just get in touch.


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