1) MCSE or 2008 stuff
3) SWIS Level 3 Diploma
4) A+ / N+
5) Relevant MIS qualification/study
Hi, I'm an IT technician in a secondary school with a network consisting of over 300 computers running XP and I have been asked by the management to provide a list of skills or task that are carried out by a technician or network manager that I don't currently have or do so that I can work towards improving my professional development.
What skills or task do you think I should be asking to learn, I know this may be a difficult question to answer as you won't know my current skills or background but if you look at the duties that you carry out and the skills that you have what advice could you give, please feel free to list skills and duties even if you think I may already have them.
Basically what should I be asking from my employer if I wanted to work towards a network manager role from being a technician?
1) MCSE or 2008 stuff
3) SWIS Level 3 Diploma
4) A+ / N+
5) Relevant MIS qualification/study
Mmmm surely as a "technician" the main reason you get paid less than a network manager, manager being the operative word, is because you dont have to do this sort of management task. They (network manager / slt) should know what a technician role entails and for that matter a network manager.
I would say rather than just paper certs and the usual hardware / software experience (which is important) you need to be able to show the ability to manage other people which could include any visiting engineers such as cabling or onsite repair people. Also project management skills would be useful to show you can manage people and resources etc... to a deadline and / or budget with hopefully a positive outcome. Also strategic thinking would be an important thing to demonstrate you can operate at a higher level rather than just at the "which computer do I need to fix today" level. Also to show you can appreciate the needs of the other departments and not always go for the choice which is easiest for the IT department.
Hope some of that is useful.
It doesn't for a second mean I am not fully aware of how I think they should develop and which areas I think they need to train on - it's just helps kickstart a reflective process on their part.
@ Richard, you state "surely as a technician the main reason you get paid less than a network manager, manager being the operative word, is because you dont have to do this sort of management task."
Yes I may get paid less than a network manager but the school wants to develop me so that I am at the same level as a network manager thus me asking for advice. The school offers career development for all of it's employees, once I get to the level of a network manager if our current network manager leaves I would then be in the position to apply for the job or even if the current network manager stays for years my salary could be assessed and I could take on extra responsilities through the skills I had asked to develop.
@ Jizer, I have looked at qualifications/training but it's knowing the right one to start with also on the job training may be more affective than going on courses.
Last edited by ron; 9th October 2009 at 12:24 PM.
Hi Ron, its a very good thing that the school wants to help you develop. However I view it as part of your managers job to help you a bit more than just asking you to guess what tasks you are not doing and come up with the course / qualifications or experience that will allow you to do them. Of course they should enquire what kind of direction you want to take your career and help you to do that as all good employers should.
Also giving you the training etc so you can perform the tasks of a network manager is great but they should not be expecting you to actually take on those jobs as part of your day to day work without adequate compensation. I would also assume it would be difficult for them to pay you more without moving you up the pay scale which can only go so far when you are officially classed as a technician even if you are doing everything a network manager does.
Dont get me wrong take every opportunity to improve yourself when offered but dont let them take advantage and expect you to do the work of a network manager but be paid like a technician, there is a reason why job evaluations were put in place !
Thanks Richard. To sum up my situation I have been working at my school for 5 years and the network manager left at the end of 2008 and I got to interview but they appointed a network manager from outside so now I am looking to build on my quailifcations and skills and I have had no training or help from my previous network manager so I feel that the schools owes me. I understand what you are saying, thanks.
Well one place I would start with is to look at why they employed a new NM instead of promoting you. I would guess it would be due to knowledge of experience of certain areas of IT that you lacked and they had. Find out what these are and build on them. But if you have a current NM then find out what roles and responsibilities they have and compare them to yours. You should see a pattern where your role finishes and theirs begins. It might give you an idea of areas to build on?
This normally means management and planning a lot more than a technician would, although this doesn't mean you need to manage people. Be aware of what things are being developed in school(this can sometimes be hard when your not involved) and see if you can be involved in the decision process.
I have never really been all that swayed by these expensive cisco or micrsoft etc... qualifications myself. Just because someone can pass an MCE exam isn't enough, practical experience and the ability to logically approach a problem or project is far more valuable as far as I am concerned. For example before I got my current job my employer got someone in short term to cover the post who had microsoft qualifications coming out of his ears. However he could not perform the most basic of practical tasks such as attaching a printer to a PC, never mind install the software. He had no practical experience at all just theory. However it could always come down to who might be interviewing you in the future, if they have no IT background its often the case that they fallback on the MCE CCNA type qualifications as an absolute requirement and by not having one you might not even get an interview.
Do you have a testing environment (network) that you can use to gain experience in installing and configuring server software, domains, virtualisation, clustering, scripting etc... if not then maybe that would be something you might want to consider. Are there any projects coming up or can you think of anything that you might be able to take the lead on, such as a new email system or server upgrades ? Is there any new hardware or software, such as macs, that are due to be implemented that maybe you could be trained in using to then cascade to technicians or other staff ?
As far as project Management skills go look up "prince2" (but also with project management, prince2 is just a very good framework). Prince2 is used in all the goverment information systems + many others and is all about cutting the bullsh*t.
Also ask for a few specific projects for example a new it room and you project manage that with the help of the current NM.
@ Richard, well foremost my employer is notorious for employing candidates from outside, it has never promoted an internal candidate EVER!! So it's nothing personal, I do have IT qualifications but I pride myself on the knowledge and skills that I have but as the offer is there to improve myself this is what I would like to aim towards.
I would go for vendor neutral training like A+, N+, Server+ if you want to get yourself some qualifications, just because you can do things the MS way doesn't necessarily mean it's the only way (or logical way in some cases).
If you want to get 'management' training, it's not quite as simple, the best way is to learn from your LM or ask to join in on the LMs training, things like prioritising, people management, implementing procedures & protocol - as it's dependant on how your school runs.
Ask for more responsibility at your current job, say you want to take things on and run them yourself, like if they need a new website and you've got a bit of know-how take the lead - managing is leading too, it's taking the shoutings when things go wrong - it's not all about better salary, sitting around typing e-mails & buying things... alot of what I have to do is things i'd not want my technicians to do, mind numbing admin work & the like... but if they offered i would be very happy, shows they want to learn more things and they want to get more knowledge.
If you're good at your job & you know your stuff it can't hurt to have a few quals behind you, if you want to step up ask for responsibility, take the lead - show you're wanting to move up. Training for schools is difficult, they don't want to train someone who will leave - learning second hand from your NM isn't always the best way as you may all be very busy:-(
We had the exact same issue as I was starting, staff were very unhappy as they were basically in-charge of everything, they had to be in total control of the network during transition and had pretty much kept the school going during the transition from old to new manager.
I asked them honestly what they wanted when I started and what plans they had for the next 3 months, then went to my LM as Network Manager and had told them they felt the wage did not match the work they did nor did it match the qualifications & experience they had. I then went back with responsibilities of the staff after discussing with them, then went back to my LM. It was a slow process, it took nearly 4 months but they did get the salary changes they were expecting (even backdated slightly).
Schools are painfully slow for progress i've found, it's amazing that you've stuck at your job that long within a school, it sounds harsh but it's definitely the most difficult to effectively plan for as teachers are strange creatures.
I think from your POV you need to ask your NM for a meeting, if he can't make time ask the NM's LM (perfectly fair, the NM may genuinely be too busy) - obviously don't go in with guns blazing but state you feel you're now in a position to undertake new responsibilities (maybe offer ideas for where you could take over things and how you could improve it) and suggest that maybe you can take the lead on responsibilities of a senior technician (if you aren't one already, if you are - asst NM?) and see how it goes from that point on. Be very careful how you word the money concerns, your NM and NMs LM understand money makes the world go round but don't make it the focus. You have every right to want to progress, the schools SHOULD be offering staff development based on what you want as well as what the school wants, regardless of what area you work in.
You may be unlucky, you may have a NM who likes to keep things in his control - if this is the case, try to get on-top of any new projects, for instance wireless projects etc.
Last edited by dwhyte85; 9th October 2009 at 09:06 PM.
ron (13th October 2009)
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