Network Engineer

Overview

Network Engineer Overview

Network Engineer apprentices are taught how to design, install, maintain and support communication networks within an organisation or between multiple organisations. They'll understand network configuration and administration, the cloud and monitoring tools; and be able to give technical advice and guidance.

To achieve their Network Engineer apprenticeship, apprentices must:

  • Demonstrate competence - against three knowledge modules: Network Principles, Network Systems and Architecture and Network Security. These are assessed by examinations set by the British Computer Society and regulated by Ofqual. Apprentices must pass all three modules.
  • Submit a portfolio of evidence - showing how they have applied the knowledge from these modules to projects and activities in their workplace.
  • Complete their formal End Point Assessment - which comprises: a synoptic project to showcase knowledge and skills from across the apprenticeship; a review of their portfolio of evidence; and a final interview with an independent EPA assessor.

Successful Network Engineer apprentices go on into roles such as a Network Technician, Network Engineer, Systems Engineer and Network Administrator.

Technical Competencies

Upon completion of their Network Engineer apprenticeship, individuals will be able to:

  • design simple networks from a well-defined specification and apply appropriate security products
  • install and configure network components, including switches, routers and firewalls
  • optimise the performance of network systems and services
  • monitor, test and adjust network systems and performance to meet accepted standards
  • document work done in accordance with agreed procedures
  • apply diagnostic tools and techniques to identify the causes of network performance issues
  • undertake system upgrades to network hardware, software and operating systems
  • integrate network related software into an existing network environment
  • interpret written requirements and technical specifications for network activities
  • maintain accurate records of network maintenance activities
  • operate within the parameters of service level agreements, standards and/or agreed response times
  • operate effectively in the business environment and respond to business issues related to network engineering
  • log and respond to network service calls and provide technical network support to end users as required
  • apply structured approaches to troubleshooting network issues and repair faults in hardware, software products

Technical Knowledge and Understanding

Upon completion of their Network Engineer apprenticeship, individuals will:

  • understand and apply the principles of networking, protocols and associated technologies (specifically this should include the latest published versions of OSI layer model, IP, TCP/IP, routing and switching, WANs, LANs)
  • understand and apply the applied maths required to be a network engineer (e.g. algorithms, data, binary, probability and statistics)
  • understand the causes and consequences of system failure including load balance and storage protocols and respond appropriately
  • understand the architecture of a typical business IT system, including hardware, OS, server, virtualisation, middleware and applications
  • understand and respond to security threats, firewalls and vulnerabilities

Underpinning Skills, Attitudes and Behaviours

  • Logical and creative thinking skills
  • Analytical and problem solving skills
  • Ability to work independently and to take responsibility
  • Can use own initiative
  • A thorough and organised approach
  • Ability to work with a range of internal and external people
  • Ability to communicate effectively in a variety of situations
  • Maintain productive, professional and secure working environment

Qualifications

Apprentices will achieve two BCS qualifications and one vendor certification.

Funding

£18,000

Level

This is a level 4 apprenticeship.

Professional Recognition

This apprenticeship is recognised for entry onto the register of IT technicians confirming SFIA level 3 professional competence and those completing the apprenticeship are eligible to apply for registration.

Duration

The duration of this Firebrand apprenticeship is 16 months. Because this period involves both training and the final End Point Assessment (some of which must be carried out in the workplace), employers need to ensure the apprentice’s contract covers the full programme duration.

Registration to the Register of IT Technicians (RITTech)

Once apprentices have completed their apprenticeship they are officially recognised by the British Computer Society (BCS) for entry onto the Register of IT Technicians, confirming SFIA level 3 professional competence.

Curriculum

Network Engineer curriculum

Firebrand’s apprenticeship programme covers all mandatory knowledge and skills outlined in the apprenticeship standard. Every Firebrand apprentice attends a suite of market-leading training programmes, to cover knowledge required from the apprenticeship standard. This training is then fleshed out through a package of selected online learning, which also allows apprentices to explore any topics of particular interest/importance to them in greater depth.

How are apprentices taught?

Apprentices receive a range of market-leading training as part of their qualification – typically between three and five courses per apprenticeship - giving them fundamental skills at speed.

We'll deliver all the knowledge apprentices need to learn for each knowledge module in the Standard through our Lecture | Lab | Review delivery. Apprentices then attend a Syllabus Review Session to cover the knowledge content covered in the apprenticeship standard.

The information below outlines the training curriculum delivered for each Knowledge Module through Firebrand's residential classroom-based training and online learning modules.


Knowledge Module 1: Network Principles

Upon completion of this Knowledge Module, Network Engineer apprentices will:

  • Understand and apply the principles of networking, protocols and associated technologies
  • Understand and apply the applied maths required to be a Network Engineer

Read through the full curriculum for Firebrand's classroom-based training and supporting online learning modules below.

Networking Concepts

  • Explain the purposes and uses of ports and protocols.
  • Explain devices, applications, protocols and services at their appropriate OSI layers
  • Explain the concepts and characteristics of routing and switching.
  • Given a scenario, configure the appropriate IP addressing components.
  • Compare and contrast the characteristics of network topologies, types and technologies.
  • Given a scenario, implement the appropriate wireless technologies and configurations.
  • Summarize cloud concepts and their purposes
  • Explain the functions of network services.

Infrastructure

  • Given a scenario, deploy the appropriate cabling solution.
  • Given a scenario, determine the appropriate placement of networking devices on a network and install/configure them.
  • Explain the purposes and use cases for advanced networking devices.
  • Explain the purposes of virtualization and network storage technologies.
  • Compare and contrast WAN technologies.

Network Operations

  • Given a scenario, use appropriate documentation and diagrams to manage the network.
  • Compare and contrast business continuity and disaster recovery concepts.
  • Explain common scanning, monitoring and patching processes and summarize their expected outputs.
  • Given a scenario, use remote access methods.
  • Identify policies and best practices.

Network Security

  • Summarize the purposes of physical security devices.
  • Explain authentication and access controls.
  • Given a scenario, secure a basic wireless network.
  • Summarize common networking attacks.
  • Given a scenario, implement network device hardening
  • Explain common mitigation techniques and their purposes.

Network Troubleshooting and Tools

  • Explain the network troubleshooting methodology.
  • Given a scenario, use the appropriate tool.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot common wired connectivity and performance issues.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot common wireless connectivity and performance issues.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot common network service issues.
  • Networking Fundamentals Part 1
  • Networking Fundamentals Part 2
  • Network Architecture
  • Networking Operations
  • Networking Security
  • Troubleshooting
  • Industrial Standards, Practices and Network Theory

Total time: 33 hours 23 minutes


Knowledge Module 2: Network Systems and Architecture

Upon completion of this Knowledge Module, Network Engineer apprentices will:

  • Understand the causes and consequences of system failure including load balance and storage protocols and responds appropriately
  • Understand the architecture of a typical business IT system, including hardware, OS, server, virtualisation, middleware and applications

Read through the full curriculum for Firebrand's classroom-based training and supporting online learning modules below.

Load Balancing Failures

  • Describe the causes of and impact of DNS round robin failures and summarise the appropriate response for each
  • Explain causes and consequences of network load balancer failures and summarise the appropriate response for each
  • Storage Protocol Failures

  • Identify the reasons for and the impact of locally attached storage protocol failures (SATA, SCSI, SAS) and summarise the appropriate response for each
  • Describe the causes and impact of failures of RAID (0,1,5,10) and summarise the appropriate response for each
  • Describe the causes and impact of failures of network shares and network attached storage (NAS) and summarise the appropriate response for each
  • Explain causes and consequences of storage area network (SAN) failures over the Fibre Channel protocol and summarise the appropriate response for each
  • Explain causes and consequences of SAN failures over Fibre Channel over Ethernet ((FCoE) and summarise the appropriate response for each
  • Explain causes and consequence of SAN failures over the iSCSI and summarise the appropriateness for each
  • Describe the causes and consequences of cloud storage failures and summarise the appropriate response for each

Hardware Failures

  • Explain the causes and impact of computer system failures and summarise the appropriate response for each
  • Express the causes and impact of network failures and summarise the appropriate response for each

Configuration Errors

  • Describe the causes and impact of incorrectly applied / faulty patches and summarise the appropriate response for each
  • Explain causes and impact of IP Addressing configuration errors and summarise the appropriate response for each; with a focus on Invalid IP address, netmask, gateway and DNS Server
  • Describe the causes and impact of VLAN configuration errors and summarise the appropriate response for each

Environmental Problems

  • Explain causes and impact of excessive heat and summarise the appropriate response
  • Describe causes and impact of a lack of power and summarise the appropriate response
  • Describe causes and impact of EMI / RFI and summarise the appropriate response

Errors in Security

  • Describe the causes and impact of backup failure and summarise the appropriate response
  • Explain the causes and impact of malware infection and summarise the appropriate response
  • Explain the causes and impact of poor wireless security and summarise the appropriate response
  • Explain the causes and impact of a failure to implement physical security

Errors resulting in a lack of capacity

  • Describe the causes of network latency and summarise the appropriate response
  • Describe the causes of lack of bandwidth and summarise the appropriate response
  • Explain the causes of lack of storage capacity and summarise the appropriate response
  • Explain the causes of lack of memory and summarise the appropriate response
  • Describe the causes of lack of compute (CPU) capacity and summarise the appropriate response

Network Infrastructure Components

  • Explain the purpose of types of network switches
  • Describe the functions of routers
  • Describe the function of wireless systems
  • Describe the functions of key network security devices
  • Explain the differences between server hardware formats

Features of Client-Server Operating Systems and Applications

  • Describe the typical client operating system features
  • Explain the typical server operating system features
  • Describe the function of different types of server
  • Explain the key function of business application software
  • Components and functions of virtualised systems

  • Describe the functions of basic components of virtualised systems
  • Explain the key differences offered by levels of cloud service
  • Describe the function of virtual desktop infrastructure
  • Features of Middleware

  • Explain the key features of middleware
    • Installing Windows Server 2016
    • Implementing Windows Server 2016 Storage Solutions
    • Implementing Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V
    • Implementing containers in Windows Server 2016
    • Implementing high availability in Windows Server 2016
    • Maintain and Monitor Windows Server 2016

    Total time: 20 hours 34 minutes


    Knowledge Module 3: Network Security

    Upon completion of this Knowledge Module, Network Engineer apprentices will:

    • Understand and respond to security threats, firewalls and vulnerabilities

    Read through the full curriculum for Firebrand's classroom-based training and supporting online learning modules below.

    1.0 Threats, Attacks and Vulnerabilities

    • 1.1 Given a scenario, analyse indicators of compromise and determine the type of malware.
    • 1.2 Compare and contrast types of attacks.
    • 1.3 Explain threat actor types and attributes.
    • 1.4 Explain penetration testing concepts.
    • 1.5 Explain vulnerability scanning concepts.
    • 1.6 Explain the impact associated with types of vulnerabilities.

    2.0 Technologies and Tools

    • 2.1 Install and configure network components, both hardwareand software-based, to support organisational security.
    • 2.2 Given a scenario, use appropriate software tools to assess the security posture of an organisation.
    • 2.3 Given a scenario, troubleshoot common security issues.
    • 2.4 Given a scenario, analyse and interpret output from security technologies.
    • 2.5 Given a scenario, deploy mobile devices securely.
    • 2.6 Given a scenario, implement secure protocols.

    3.0 Architecture and Design

    • 3.1 Explain use cases and purpose for frameworks, best practices and secure configuration guides.
    • 3.2 Given a scenario, implement secure network architecture concepts.
    • 3.3 Given a scenario, implement secure systems design.
    • 3.4 Explain the importance of secure staging deployment concepts.
    • 3.5 Explain the security implications of embedded systems.
    • 3.6 Summarise secure application development and deployment concepts.
    • 3.7 Summarise cloud and virtualisation concepts.
    • 3.8 Explain how resiliency and automation strategies reduce risk.
    • 3.9 Explain the importance of physical security controls.

    4.0 Identity and Access Management

    • 4.1 Compare and contrast identity and access management concepts.
    • 4.2 Given a scenario, install and configure identity and access services.
    • 4.3 Given a scenario, implement identity and access management controls.
    • 4.4 Given a scenario, differentiate common account management practices.

    5.0 Risk Management

    • 5.1 Explain the importance of policies, plans and procedures related to organisational security.
    • 5.2 Summarise business impact analysis concepts.
    • 5.3 Explain risk management processes and concepts.
    • 5.4 Given a scenario, follow incident response procedures.
    • 5.5 Summarise basic concepts of forensics.
    • 5.6 Explain disaster recovery and continuity of operation concepts.
    • 5.7 Compare and contrast various types of controls.
    • 5.8 Given a scenario, carry out data security and privacy practices.

    6.0 Cryptography and PKI

    • 6.1 Compare and contrast basic concepts of cryptography.
    • 6.2 Explain cryptography algorithms and their basic characteristics.
    • 6.3 Given a scenario, install and configure wireless security settings.
    • 6.4 Given a scenario, implement public key infrastructure.
    • Network Security
    • Threats and Vulnerabilities
    • Compliance and Operational Security
    • Application, Data and Host Security
    • Identity and Access Management
    • Cryptography

    Total time: 18 hours 45 minutes


    Additional Courses

    Choose from one of Firebrand's accelerated courses listed below to add to this apprenticeship programme. These courses are delivered when apprentices have submitted evidence to their End Point Assessment gateway.

    These additional courses support apprentices in achieving a Distinction grade at End Point Assessment.

    Prerequisites

    Who can enroll on a Network Engineer apprenticeship?

    Is there an upper age limit for someone that wants to go on an apprenticeship programme?

    Individuals can enrol as long as they’re over 16 - there’s no upper age limit. With a desire to learn and a real interest in IT, Firebrand will teach individuals everything else they need to know to succeed.

    What's the minimum educational criteria for entry onto Firebrand's apprenticeship programme?

    We don't set specific educational criteria - all our programmes are designed to upskill individuals with no prior experience. We only require apprentices to pass the Functional Skills diagnostic prior to enrolling on the programme (see below).

    It's up to an employer whether they wish to specify any particular qualifications or experience (such as GCSEs or a relevant lower-level apprenticeship) as part of their application process.

    I have someone that I want to put on an apprenticeship but they have no GCSEs in English and Maths. Can they still enrol on an apprenticeship programme?

    Individuals can enrol on an apprenticeship without GCSEs. However, they will be required to pass a Level 2 Functional Skills assessment in both English and Maths as part of their apprenticeship.

    During enrolment, we'll ask apprentices to take an online test to determine whether they meet Level 2 standards in English and Maths, before they start the programme. As long as they reach this standard, they can begin the programme. Our Functional Skills tutor will work with them to ensure they pass the exams during the first months of their apprenticeship.

    My potential apprentice has an IT based degree. Are they eligible?

    Possibly. We look at every case individually to see whether an individual's previous learning makes them suitable for an apprenticeship. In most cases, as long as there is clear evidence that an individual requires the skills to do their job and has not received previous training in most of those specified, then they are eligible. Even where an individual has some of the skills required, we may be able to adjust the programme (and the price) so they can get the training they need.

    However, as apprenticeships are intended for individuals who need to learn skills from scratch, Firebrand’s digital programmes may not be suitable if candidates have extensive qualifications or work experience that cover the skills to be taught in the programme.

    My apprentice doesn't want to learn through residential training. Can we still use Firebrand as a provider?

    Not really. Our residential training courses are absolutely fundamental to our apprenticeships - this is when apprentices get the knowledge and skills they need to pass exams that show they've met the requirements of the apprenticeship. The supporting training we offer helps to prepare for these courses, but doesn't deliver the full spectrum of learning.

    Over 20 years of residential delivery, we've consistently seen the benefits of professionals being able to acquire an entire skillset - and take their exam - in one out-of-office period. The immersive, no-distractions approach really allows them to focus on their learning, rather than feeling they're being called away from the day job. They take exams with the knowledge still 'fresh' and return to work with all the skills they need to progress.

    End Point Assessment

    How are Network Engineer apprentices assessed?

    An End Point Assessment (EPA) is the final step in the apprenticeship journey. Each apprentice is assessed by an independent organisation, who checks the individual can demonstrate all the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by their apprenticeship standard.

    What happens during EPA?

    Before EPA, apprentices enter a 'Gateway' period, where Firebrand's Learning Mentor will work with the employer, the apprentice and our Quality Team to judge whether the apprentice has fully met all requirements of the standard. After that, they will formally enter the EPA process and complete all the elements for that standard. The full EPA takes around 12 weeks to complete.

    EPA elements vary slightly between digital standards, but all include a combination of the following:

    Summative Portfolio

    Apprentices collect evidence of how they have applied the knowledge, skills and behaviours learned during training as part of their job. This evidence is uploaded to their OneFile account, and monitored by their Learning Mentor and the Quality Team to ensure it is comprehensive and relevant. This evidence - the Summative Portfolio - is submitted to demonstrate their professional development over time. Summative Portfolio evidence can be written, image-based, audio or video – whatever medium helps apprentices get the point across best. Every apprentice's Summative Portfolio will include a series of projects, longer-form pieces of evidence showing how multiple skills have been used on a particular piece of work. 

    Synoptic Project

    This is an extended, specific project task set by the EPA organisation, which is designed to allow apprentices to use a variety of skills to achieve a relevant solution to a previously unknown problem. Apprentices select their project from a shortlist of options. Synoptic projects ('synoptic' just means 'providing a general summary') last for approximately 40 hours, and must be completed in the workplace under supervised conditions. This allows assessors to 'benchmark' apprentices from different companies and in different jobs within a similar context.

    Case Study Presentation

    Instead of the Synoptic Project, some standards include a Case Study to help assessors make consistent judgements. As for the Synoptic Project, EPA organisations set a shortlist of possible titles, from which apprentices choose one for further development. They have 20 hours to complete the case study, before delivering the results of their work as a 20-minute presentation to an EPA assessor. The presentation includes a question-and-answer session on the apprentice's approach and methods. 

    Knowledge Tests

    Some standards don't include knowledge exams or certifications as part of the training requirements. Instead, apprentices' knowledge is assessed through a series of multiple-choice tests during EPA, which align to each of the modules they complete. For these standards, Firebrand's training programme includes a residential preparation course, when apprentices will go through the test format, revise knowledge topics and gain practice before taking the final knowledge tests.

    Employer reference

    This extended document is created by the apprentice's employer mentor, and explains how (in their view) the apprentice has met all the required competencies of the standard through the work they do. Firebrand Learning Mentors will provide a template and regular guidance on completing this document, so it becomes an ongoing record rather than a last-minute summary. The finished document should demonstrate the apprentice's value to the employer - a crucial element in deciding how effectively they've achieved the goals of the apprenticeship.

    Interview

    The final element is a one-to-one interview between the apprentice and the EPA assessor, usually conducted remotely. The assessor will ask the apprentice about the work in their Summative Portfolio and their approach to completing the Synoptic Project/Case Study. 

    Who delivers our End Point Assessments?

    The British Computer Society (BCS) assesses all Firebrand apprentices - it's the Chartered Institute for IT and the professional body for the digital industries.

    RITTech registration

    All successful apprentices appear on the BCS Professional Register for IT Technicians (RITTech) free of charge, and are entitled to use the RITTech letters after their name.

    RITTech is recognised by employers and recruiters, demonstrating a higher level of skills and professionalism across digital and technology industries. RITTech is only awarded to people working at SFIA Level 3 or above standard.

    Source: British Computer Society

    Find out more about the End Point Assessment (EPA).

    Progression Plan

    How do Network Engineer apprentices progress?

    The pace of digital transformation means there’s always going to be new technologies and smarter processes in businesses.

    Progress to the next level and learn even more new digital skills. Progression is a natural step in the IT industry and it keeps employee's skills refreshed.

    Develop and reinforce technical knowledge by advancing to a higher-level apprenticeship or training on Firebrand’s public courses. Gain certifications on public courses from vendors like Microsoft, AWS and CompTIA.

    Level 3

    For apprentices at the end of their Level 3 apprenticeship, advancing to Level 4 is the next natural step. Learn further digital skills while in a more specific IT related role. Specialised Level 4 roles include being a Data Analyst, Cyber Security Technologist or Network Engineer.

    Rather than just understanding an organisation’s technologies, learn to master them. Level 4 apprentices apply previous skills with new technical knowledge to gain greater responsibility in a digital role.

    Take a look at our Level 4 apprenticeships to continue developing your IT career.

    Level 4

    After a Level 4 apprenticeship, apprentices can enhance certain specific skillsets and gain further product knowledge by taking Firebrand’s public courses. Public courses are the best option after successfully completing a Level 4 qualification. They align individual courses with desired IT skills.

    There’s no limit to the number courses that apprentices can take. Continue learning with Firebrand and gain the certifications needed to move into top IT roles at twice the speed. Continue building a professional career in the right way with recognised industry qualifications

    Start choosing certifications from over 700 public training courses.

    Exams

    Exams

    While apprentices benefit from new digital skills they can use in their job, almost all digital apprenticeships that Firebrand offer provide the chance to gain industry recognised qualifications.

    Apprentices gain qualifications through either BCS or Vendor specific exams where applicable. These qualifications add to a professional career and can be used to help move seamlessly between roles in the IT industry.

    All relevant exams that will be achieved during this apprenticeship are listed below:

    1. CompTIA Network+
    2. BCS Level 4 Certificate in Network Systems and Architecture
    3. BCS Level 4 Certificate in Network Security

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