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How to Become a Network Operations Manager

A company that has hundreds, even thousands of employees, needs to have a scaling number of IT staff to match. For every server room, cubicle area, WAP, LAN, router, and type of software, you’ll need groups of people ready to implement, monitor, update, and repair.

Network operations managers handle departments of engineers, technicians, architects, and more to ensure seamless and efficient use of their talents. They handle administrative tasks, such as budgeting and delegating tasks, hiring and training staff, and providing plans for the implementation and maintenance of company networks.

If you’re looking to become a network operations manager, you’ll want to have great leadership skills alongside policy development experience. It helps to have keen attention to detail, strong troubleshooting skills, and excellent written and verbal communication. Any amount of experience in network operations will greatly help.

Sample job description

Network Operations Managers use their understanding of network equipment and protocols alongside their management skills to maintain, direct, and coordinate the network needs of their business. They install, maintain, upgrade, and monitor all network strategies while training and leading teams of network engineers while maintaining company policy and guidelines. Are you a great planner? Are you a network master with a thorough understanding of the hardware and software needed to keep your company’s employees talking to each other and the world? If so, you might love being a network operations manager for our company! Please apply.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Plan, direct, maintain, and coordinate network installation, maintenance, and operations
  • Recruit, manage and mentor a team of network engineers
  • Create troubleshooting and maintenance protocols
  • Select hardware, software, and vendors according to organizational needs and budgets
  • Ensure compliance with company policies and guidelines
  • Configure, monitor and troubleshoot network problems

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Some employers prefer that job candidates have a master’s degree for certain jobs and career advancement.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Proficient in recruiting, leading and mentoring employees
  • Thorough understanding of wireless networking and general IT functions
  • Policy development and enforcement skills
  • Expertise in written and verbal communication
  • Excellent troubleshooting, problem-solving and collaborative skills 
  • Keen attention to detail 

Preferred qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 6 or more years of experience with providers and analytics
  • Strong Excel skills
  • Strong network operations acumen with proficiency in process, project management, and auditing

Typical work environment

The network operations manager will spend a significant amount of time in an office environment. Most of this time will be seated at a computer and any business locations that require networks to be installed. This may mean travel and visitation of sites, and long hours standing, squatting, or walking may be necessary to complete tasks. 

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a network operations manager are from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Available certifications

As network operations managers work in a variety of industries, there are many institutions that offer certifications, including:

  • Network5. This EC-Council beginner-level course provides the holder with basic networking concepts and best practices. You’ll be introduced to the world of networking, and learn the vital processes of how businesses interact internally, and with their clients and customers. This is an excellent introductory course to begin your journey to a senior-level position within the field.
  • Project Manager Professional. After obtaining this designation, you’ll demonstrate a solid foundational knowledge of competent project management. You’ll be thoroughly tested in the domains of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing a project. This globally recognized certification will take you far in demonstrating your leadership ability.
  • Security5. This certification offered by EC-Council provides the holder with the invaluable knowledge of setting up a secure network for a company. You’ll learn basic network literacy and foundational security concepts needed in the entire IT world. By obtaining this certification, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to keeping your company’s data and business operations safe.
  • CCNP Service Provider Operations. This Cisco certification offers knowledge and skills required by high-level engineers to troubleshoot and resolve complex network issues. With this on hand, you demonstrate your ability to isolate performance problems within a network, design and implement proactive measures to prevent interruptions, and learn management processes, frameworks, and network management systems.

Career path

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, although a master’s degree is generally preferred. A network operations manager will typically advance to more executive positions such as director of information systems, chief information officer (CIO), or VP of technology after years of experience.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-3021

2020 Employment482,000
Projected Employment in 2030534,600
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 11% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift52,700 increase

According to the website Network World, one trend that will affect networking sectors is the expanded use of wireless technology. Innovation in smart devices means accessing networks will need to improve. Another growing trend is the switch to systems that favor SD-WAN technology. With the growth of multi-cloud networking and the need for secure access to cloud applications, more businesses are willing to re-tool their networks to ensure security.