The Network Manager: Keeping Organizations Connected

Starting pay for network managers will increase in 2014.

The network manager keeps an organization’s communications and data networks running at peak performance, ensuring network uptime and connectivity. Those in this vital role must be well versed in networking technology and equipment and have excellent problem-solving skills, so they can swiftly troubleshoot network issues.

“An organization’s network facilitates all of the communication needed for the business to run,” says Eric Younkin, Branch Manager at Robert Half Technology’s Cleveland location. “It’s the job of the network manager to ensure the network is up, connected and healthy at all times.”

Network manager salaries on the rise in 2014

As organizations become increasingly reliant on networks for everyday operations, more chief information officers are looking to hire skilled networking professionals. Many seek network manager candidates with proven leadership capabilities and tenure in the industry. Compensation trends for this key position reflect hiring demand: The average starting salary for a network manager in the United States is expected to increase 6.2 percent this year.* Starting compensation is projected to range from $94,000 - $130,000. (You can use the Robert Half Technology Salary Calculator to find salary information specific to your city.)

Network manager job description

So what does it take to be a network manager? Here are some key qualifications you'd find in a network manager job description:

  • Practical data and voice networking experience
  • Excellent operational knowledge of network hardware and software
  • Outstanding interpersonal, management and verbal and written communication skills
  • Multitasking capabilities
  • More than 10 years of experience in a networking environment (depending on the organization's requirements)
  • Three or more years of experience managing technical personnel

Younkin notes that many employers also look specifically for network managers who have earned in-demand professional certifications, such as those from Microsoft and Cisco. “For a network manager candidate, certifications are a great way to show that you have a solid understanding of the technical aspects of the job, even if you have less hands-on experience in a networking environment than an employer may seek,” he says.

 How to become a network manager

The core responsibility of a network manager is to direct day-to-day operations and maintenance of an organization's networking technology. Some network managers oversee and train a staff of network technicians and collaborate with a team of network professionals to implement, test, deploy and integrate computer network solutions. A network manager also may be expected to create and present network system reports —for example, system performance, utilization and compliance reports — to IT management.

The network manager role requires more than just IT skills, however. Candidates for the strategic role of network manager should be able to demonstrate they can plan for the future with a vision that makes sense for the overall health of the business. That requires a strong blend of networking knowledge and business reasoning.

Younkin says if technology professionals are interested in pursuing network manager positions, they should take time to learn the business aspects of the industry. “Show that you understand more than just how to fix something that’s broken,” he advises.

Additionally, Younkin suggests that network manager candidates be able to demonstrate strong leadership and communication skills to potential employers. “Prove that you can think on your feet when making decisions and can effectively explain technical things to nontechnical people,” he says.

Look to Robert Half Technology's latest Salary Guide for a network manager job description and descriptions and starting compensation trends for a wide range of IT jobs.

*Network manager salaries in Canada are projected to increase 5.9 percent in 2014, ranging from $83,750 - $109,750 (CAD).