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Assuming the network manager's role

I am a 24 year old network administrator. I started working with my present employer about 12 months ago, after serving 6 years with the British army. This was a complete career change for me, as I had no networking background and limited IT knowledge.

I started working as a junior network/PC support person. After about 6 months my manager left, which left me in charge. They started to interview people for his position but as I was handling the work load they decided not to fill his position and leave it up to me. Sorry for waffling on but I would like you to understand my position :) Since being responsible for the network over the last 6 months, I have gained a lot of practical knowledge but I have had no training and therefore have no certification. In my job I deal with NT server, Exchange 5.5, IIS, VPN, NT terminal server, SQL and all our virus defense and security. I am also responsible for all contracts with regard to IT services.

I would like to start some formal training to gain certification, but I am not to sure which area to start in. Do you have any advice? I also believe that I, due to my lack of qualifications, am being underpaid as I have had no pay rise since my mangager left and no recognition of the extra responsibilities I have taken on. I know it is impossible to put a price on a job, but knowing my responsibilities, how much would you say this job would be worth?
To further your certification status, I'd urge you to obtain a Windows 2000 MCSE an dpossibly also Cisco and security certifications as well. This will probably take a year (for MCSE) plus at least 6 months each for entry-level Cisco (CCNA) and security (SCCP or something similar) certifications. Hopefully, your employer will be willing to pay for some training, but if not, I'd strongly recommend that you accomplish whatever you can through self-study and self-funding.

I also agree that you should have received a raise in pay for handling a manager's job after being hired as an individual contributor. I urge you to discuss this with your employer and see if you can make some accommodation with them. I'd also urge you to try to sell them on the benefits of getting you trained further. If they prove intransigent on either front, I'd recommend that you begin looking for other employment elsewhere--if they won't keep you trained in your job and won't pay you for the work you're doing, why should you give them the continued benefit of your labor?

As for pay, I'm not as familiar with pay scales in the UK as I am in the US, but I believe that the job you describe should pay at least 25-30K Pounds per year, based on what salary surveys for the UK I can find online.

Good luck with your efforts. If you can't get where you want to be in your current position, you should pursue certification on your own, and then make a switch once you've got the credentials that match your knowledge base and experience.
This was last published in June 2001

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