Network systems engineer
What does a network systems engineer do?
Computer networks play a huge role in broadcasting. Network systems are used to connect much of the technical equipment, linking up equipment in the studio with that of the post-production house and distribution centre. Network systems engineers make sure the whole process runs smoothly and that everyone can access the data they need. Their work might ensure a production team can check scripts or budgets at any time of day, that cameras can be controlled by remote computer systems, or that footage shot in a studio reaches a post-production house many miles away. Computer networks are being used more and more in broadcasting technology, so network systems engineers are very important.
Network systems are made up of hardware – such as servers, network switches and computer terminals – and software, like databases and editing programmes. They also involve data – like video footage, draft scripts and budget spreadsheets – that is usually stored on a shared drive or cloud, accessed over the internet. Network systems engineers look after these systems so that broadcast software runs effectively and content can be accessed by those with permission. If there’s an issue with a network, network systems engineers figure out what has caused it and come up with a solution.
Network systems engineers sometimes go on to become systems architects, who are responsible for designing network systems.
Who does a network systems engineer work with?
What is a network systems engineer good at?
- IT skills: having a thorough knowledge of how IT network systems work
- Troubleshooting: finding and analysing problems
- Communication: being good at understanding colleagues’ or clients’ problems and being able to explain how to fix them
How do I become a network systems engineer ?
You need a keen interest in computers and knowledge of how software and hardware work together. Network systems engineers often have a background in computer science or similar fields. Consider finding courses or apprenticeships that can give you experience working with electronics.
At school or college
If you’d like to be a network systems engineer, getting an A-level in computer science is a good first step. If you’re interested in a career in broadcast engineering generally, maths and physics would complement this well and open up your options.
The following Level 3 vocational qualifications are also relevant to this role:
- Level 3 Certificate in Programming
- Level 3 Diploma in Software Development
- BTEC National Extended Certificate in Information Technology
Selected schools and colleges have also started offering T-levels – a qualification equivalent to three A-levels that is designed to help you get into the industry of your choice. Study is 80% classroom- and 20% work placement-based. The following T-levels are about designing and developing software and digital infrastructure:
- Digital Production, Design and Development
- Digital Support Services
- Digital Business Services
If you’re interested in broadcast engineering but not sure which area you want to specialise in, you could choose another engineering course that includes software modules. You can then specialise in network systems as your career progresses.
Apprenticeships are jobs with training. Search for apprenticeships in broadcast engineering with broadcasters like BBC and Sky. Go to What’s an apprenticeship? to find out more and Where can I find an apprenticeship? to find apprenticeships in your region.
Alternatively, you can approach companies directly. Take a look at our list of apprenticeships to find the schemes of the main broadcasters. The BBC has a three-year apprenticeship in broadcast engineering that offers experience in all the areas a technical manager must master. You might want to start your career with a digital and technology solutions professional apprenticeship or with a software engineering apprenticeship.
Get a degree
A degree in a maths or science subject would stand you in good stead for entering the world of broadcast engineering. Computer-related courses like computer science, electronic engineering, computer engineering and software development are especially relevant if you’re already aiming for this particular job. Go to ScreenSkills Select to find university and college courses accredited by ScreenSkills.
Look outside the industry
Network systems engineers are needed across all industries, so even if you’ve developed the skills to design computer systems in a completely different one, you’ll be able to move into broadcasting. If you want to choose a similar industry, go for telecoms, live events or radio.
Get work experience
Write to specialist IT firms and ask if they offer work experience. Take a look at the BBC’s software engineering graduate scheme. Big broadcasters like ITV, Channel 4 and Sky also offer work experience opportunities and graduate schemes. University courses can help you to get work experience placements; some include a year in industry.
Working on your own projects, like building a computer from scratch or doing some coding, will also give you great experience.
Take a short course
Check out ScreenSkills’ Training and opportunities page and click on Training to see what courses are available, whether they are in person or online. The training doesn’t have to be linked directly to broadcast engineering; for example, a short course on developing resilience would help you understand how to thrive in challenging circumstances.
If you want to develop coding skills, there are lots of good short courses and bootcamps accredited by the Chartered Institute for IT. Although network systems engineers don’t do much programming day to day, these could help you in your career overall.
Create a LinkedIn profile. See if there are Facebook pages or other social media groups for IT professionals, or people who are interested in programming.
Search for jobs
Search for jobs on the broadcasters’ websites as well as on LinkedIn and other job-hunting websites. Make use of the ScreenSkills jobs board. You can also send a short speculative letter with your CV to the head of technology or head of IT support.
You might also be interested in…
- Why the Industry needs more Broadcast Engineers | NFTS
- British Film Commission list of UK studios
- Engineering Council
- Rise: Women in Broadcast
- The Institution of Engineering and Technology
- The International Trade Association for the Broadcast & Media Industry
- The Media Production & Technology Show
- Society of Media Professionals, Technologists and Engineers
- International Broadcasting Convention
- BBC Academy
- ITV Entry Careers
- Sky early careers
- 4Skills (Channel 4)
- Bectu (the media and entertainment union)
- Bectu Ratecards