As a network analyst it's your job to tailor-make computer systems for large businesses.
Unlike many other IT jobs you'll be really involved on the business side as well as the technical side so you'll need to wear two hats - your non technical hat to identify problem areas in the business followed by your technical hat which suggests computer-based solutions.
So, what will I actually be doing?
The type of projects you might work on include the restructuring of a banks' customer accounts to make them more secure or the integration of phone and internet systems at a call centre to help the staff manage enquiries better.
You'll have to work closely with the IT team of programmers, designers and IT managers to design systems. You'll oversee the installation of them, and once completed you'll have to test and evaluate their success and make sure everyone is trained to use them properly.
Network analyst jobs are often found inside big retail companies, government departments and financial institutions. Alternatively you could work for an IT company which specialises in these kinds of trouble-shooting projects.
Other common titles for the role that you should be aware of include systems analyst and business analyst.
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The nitty gritty
On the whole you'll work a typical 37 to 40 hour week with the odd period where you may have to work late and possibly weekends to meet a deadline or manage some emergency project solving.
Most of your work will be office based - either at your own desk or at your client's site. If you work for clients you might have to travel away from home for short periods during the most critical stages of the project.
Flexible working and some home-working may be possible, but it depends on your employer.
Your more typical progression path includes promotion to senior or principal analyst and then project manager. You could also go into contract or consultancy work and specialise in a particular field, for example finance or security.
There are opportunities to move into other areas entirely, like IT systems architecture, project management, strategic business planning or even a people management role.
Money, money, money
Newly qualified network analysts generally start on around £25,000 per year.
As you get more experienced your annual earnings will increase to nearer £40,000 and once you've been in the job some time there is potential to earn up to £58,000.
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The good points...
There are lots of job vacancies across most industry sectors, from finance to utilities and defence.
If you enjoy travelling and want to work overseas then your luck might be in as there are many opportunities to work on client projects overseas.
...and the bad
Even with programming experience and skills you'll probably go through an intensive period of training when you start your new job.
Is there study involved?
It's quite a senior role so you'll need a degree and some experience to land a job as a network analyst. That said, there are ways into IT which will get you the right experience and allow you to work up from a position like trainee programmer.
The most useful degrees are in computer sciences and business information, but you can take a postgraduate conversion degree to add a technical element to any subject. Employers will probably expect you have some relevant experience too.
It's vital you have some knowledge of programming, as even though you won't write the programmes yourself you'll need to know what's possible. For this reason many employers will expect to see some relevant qualifications on your CV, these include:
- Visual Basic
- Unified Modelling Language
You'll get systems analysis training and the opportunity to keep updating your software skills as part of your long-term training programme.
Some courses will be given in-house but often you'll attend external courses which will lead to professional qualifications from organisations such as the British Computer Society, e-Skills or the Institute of Information Systems.
As with any IT job it's especially important to keep your skills up to date on an ongoing basis as the industry moves on so quickly. You should therefore make sure your employer continues to send you on development courses.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
When you are writing up your CV these are the skills to really focus on:
- An extensive and current knowledge of hardware, software and programming
- An ability to explain technical information to non-technical people
- Excellent communications skills
Good negotiating skills
- A good business understanding
- Team-working and team management experience
- Good project management skills
- Good organisation and problem-solving skills
- A methodical and analytical approach