Exploring our Latest UK Network Engineering Report

8 min

We recently released our global network engineering report, highlighting the intricacies of ...

We recently released our global network engineering report, highlighting the intricacies of salaries, hiring trends, in-demand skills, and the impact of emerging technologies in 2023. As a taster to our download, this guide provides a snapshot of what’s included in the UK section of our report, focusing on the transformation across enterprise network engineering, network security, telecommunications, fibre engineering, and enterprise network engineer contracting.

Once you’ve read this piece, scroll to the end to download your own copy of our Global Networking Report.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the following network engineering salary UK insights:

  • Enterprise Network Engineering UK
  • Network Security Engineering UK
  • Telecommunications Engineering UK
  • Fibre Engineering UK
  • Enterprise Network Engineer Contract Work UK

Enterprise Network Engineering UK

Enterprise network engineering in the UK has and continues to experience significant transformation. This transformation is driven by the supply and demand issue regarding high-level talent. The industry's dual challenge shows an increased need for network engineers and a scarce supply of skilled professionals, with many top-tier talent approaching the end of their careers. 

Coinciding with this is the perception amongst some network engineering companies that engineers are an expensive commodity rather than a strategic and valuable business resource. For context, a study by Enterprise Strategy Group outlined that 1 in 6 of 300 tech firms consider the network engineer salary and associated finances to be a cost centre. 

This low confidence emphasises the need for a shake-up of perceptions within the industry. Clearly, there is an urgency to educate key decision-makers about the value network engineers can bring to tech companies - something we’ve highlighted in our guide on why your business should hire a network security engineer. For additional context, the average network engineer salary in the UK is £40,000, with the role in London and the Southeast averaging £45,000.

AI in network engineering

One way tech companies can address the supply-and-demand issue regarding talent shortages and futureproof their hiring strategies is by turning to AI-powered alternatives. As we discussed in our guide on exploring the future of AI engineering in network security, AI is starting to make its presence known and is a key trend in the networking world. 

AI is beginning to reshape the network engineering sector, supporting aspects of the role such as enhancing efficiencies, reducing human error, and addressing network complexities. Incorporating AI into engineering roles can improve troubleshooting and issue resolution while forecasting problems and supporting risk mitigation. Although not at the stage to remove the need for talent altogether, it's certainly an option to support the talent shortages within the industry.

How the finance space is affected

When we examined the compensation trends within the network engineering industry, we found that talent operating in London takes home over 11% more than professionals in other areas of the UK. We can explain this disparity in pay by pointing out that London is a major city with major finance firms in a prime position to demand and attain the market's top engineers, especially in low-latency network engineering. 

The concentration of low-latency network engineering opportunities within London, driven by its status as a global financial hub, poses challenges for professionals seeking opportunities beyond the capital. Initiatives promoting regional fintech development and investing in digital infrastructure in other big cities are essential for a more geographically inclusive job market.

Women in network engineering

Fostering diversity and inclusion in network engineering is a priority, emphasised by its male-dominated industry. With 92% of network engineers in the UK being male, companies within the tech space should look to be more proactive regarding strategies to encourage women to pursue careers in the space. These strategies could include partnering with educational bodies and mentoring schemes to help support Women in STEM.

Encouraging women to transition into network engineering also relies on a cultural shift within the workplace, developing a culture of diversity that focuses on attracting and retaining female talent. Additionally, bringing more skilled women network engineers into the candidate pool is another way to help close the talent gaps within your business and the industry. 

Overall, the UK's enterprise network engineering sector is adapting to transformative changes. These include balancing human expertise with AI advancements and transitioning to a more diverse workforce to help drive an inclusive culture while reducing the challenge of talent shortages.

Enterprise Network Security Engineering UK

As part of our 2023 report, we know that the demand for network security professionals in the UK is on the rise. Why? Some organisations are beginning to realise the seriousness of potential attacks, with the average data breach cost reaching $4.45 million, along with the increased sophistication of network-related threats. 

Despite the escalating threats posed to the network engineering space, some SMEs have yet to focus their efforts on cyber security. This is a cause for concern as the Q2 Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2023 reveals that only 68% of micro-businesses prioritise cyber security. 

The factors behind this include increased salaries for talent within the space, with smaller companies feeling priced out of the market and opting for a more reactive than proactive approach to cyber and network security. However, this reactive approach leaves them vulnerable to potential attacks, which can have severe financial and reputational consequences. 

Additionally, over 40% of all UK cyber threats are targeted at SMEs. Despite this, only 14% are actually prepared to combat an attack. As SMEs face roughly 10,000 cyber-attacks per day, there is a clear need for these companies to engage with the market and establish a security culture. By doing so, they can enhance their stance on cyber and network security, potentially reducing the number and impact of cyber-attacks they face. 

With the current cyber security workforce in the UK currently around 134,500 professionals, there is a need to attract at least 17,500 security engineers a year to meet the expected demands. It appears we're a long way off this target, with the estimated number of people entering the security sector each year currently at 7,500. 

Salaries within this area of network engineering reflect the demands for talent across different regions of the UK. Unsurprisingly, London and the Southeast offer the highest salaries, driven by the cost of living, supply and demand challenges, and their status as a business hub. Industry demand, skillset, and experience also influence salaries, with the cyber security market's growth fueled by evolving threats and increased compliance regulations. 

Employers should consider reskilling and upskilling schemes to help combat the talent demand. These initiatives can empower individuals with transferable skills to transition into network security roles, thereby addressing the talent gap. 

Companies should also focus on refining job descriptions, avoiding gender-biased wording, and utilising SEO-focused language to attract diverse candidates. By taking these proactive steps, businesses can contribute to the progression of the cyber-security sector.

Telecommunications Engineering UK

Let's shift our attention to telecommunications. Our network engineering report emphasises how, despite the internet being a mainstay in global communications, there are still disparities regarding accessibility. As we mention in our download, more than 20% of the world is not exposed to at least 4G network coverage - reaching an alarming 73% in Eastern and Western Africa. These statistics highlight the need for innovative solutions like satellite internet.

Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites have helped mark a transformative shift within telecommunications engineering. Positioned 300 miles above the Earth, this innovative tech is helping to deliver reduced latency and lower costs. However, as LEO satellites are non-geostationary and orbit the Earth every 90 minutes to two hours, they cannot provide a single location with constant connectivity. 

Therefore, companies are launching interconnected satellite constellations, forming an orbiting network that ensures high-speed and reliable internet even in remote areas. This LEO innovative evolution in satellite technology has seen a competitive race among some major players within the telecoms space. 

Let’s take a look at some of these LEO innovators we also highlight in our report:

  • Starlink: Spearheaded by Elon Musk's Space X, Starlink aims to launch 4,425 satellites by 2024. It will showcase its value by providing internet connectivity in Ukraine after the Russian invasion damaged the country’s infrastructure. 
  • OneWeb: Backed by the UK government and industry partners, including Virgin, Qualcomm, Airbus, and Hughes, OneWeb aims to deploy 648 satellites in synchronised polar orbits. 
  • Project Kuiper: Amazon is set to launch 1,500 satellites over five years, contributing to the growing landscape of LEO satellite internet providers. 
  • Viasat: Based in the US, Viasat is taking a unique approach with small satellites, emphasising sustainability and responsible access to LEO networks.

Although the telecommunications industry has made notable progress, the LEO solution has challenges. For example, these satellites will need to be replaced every five years, which brings inherent costs to build the satellites and the rockets to send them to space. 

However, with the increased demand for global connectivity and advancements in manufacturing driving down costs, the industry is attracting multiple players, each contributing to the overarching goal of providing fast, affordable broadband worldwide.

Ultimately, within the niche field of telecommunications, securing the right contract and permanent talent is essential for satellite internet innovators who aim to address global connectivity disparities and fulfil their goals of connecting underserved and unserved communities. 

Fibre Engineering UK

Next, we’ll delve into the section outlined in our network engineering report that focuses on the UK fibre engineering specialism. One of the biggest trends we’ve highlighted within this space is how alternative network (altnet) companies have shifted their network engineering recruitment priorities from network expansion to revenue generators due to increased pressure from investors seeking ROI.

Will Godmon, Head of Fibre North at Hamilton Barnes, states in our report that altnets are moving away from the traditional focus on total homes passed (THP) to total homes connected (THC). This transition emphasises the need for organisations to drive revenue for continuous network development and attract further investment. 

As a result, the network engineering recruitment landscape within the fibre sector is seeing a greater demand for roles such as sales, business development, marketing professionals, channel managers, and junior team members responsible for customer engagement.

Highlighted in our report, Joe Yates, Operations Director at FYBA Recruitment, highlights the continued importance of boots-on-the-ground strategies for customer engagement. Joe emphasises the challenge of needing a substantial workforce. However, placing quality candidates in these roles is difficult, especially for smaller organisations facing competition from over 100 altnets vying for limited sales talent.

Companies looking to generate revenue in the fibre industry must be prepared to adapt to the market and focus on candidate needs to attract and retain talent successfully in the competitive network engineering recruitment space. Organisations should offer career progression, training and development and flexible work arrangements while having a robust go-to-market strategy, a sincere approach to Corporate Social Responsibility, and a compelling narrative to convey their values.

Enterprise Network Engineer Contract Work UK

The final section of our network engineering report revolves around enterprise IT contract jobs. Our analysis reveals how contract roles offering lucrative incentives for professionals are thriving within the industry. We detail more specifics regarding trends and salaries in the report, but as a whole, it’s clear that there’s a surge in demand for engineers, architects, and consultants. 

It’s also clear that London stands out as a hub for network engineering contract salaries, driven by its status as an economic and global technology centre. However, the higher wages in the capital come with a trade-off – the elevated cost of living in the area. The relentless demand for top-tier network contractors in London creates a competitive market that keeps salaries at a premium. 

While London leads the way for contract talent, other UK regions offer appealing day rates for network engineering specialists, ensuring various opportunities for growth and development across the country.

Contract services within the UK networking engineering industry are also shaping cyber security. Remote work trends within this amplify roles like SOC analysts and cyber security engineers, while increased cloud and IoT adoption is driving demand for cloud engineers. Concerns about data breaches elevate the importance of contract jobs like data engineers and data architects, with DevOps engineers playing a crucial role in integrating security into the development process.

Overall, the network engineering and cyber security contract job market in London and the Southeast is booming, offering excellent opportunities for those tackling the challenges of the digital age. Abundant opportunities await in this dynamic industry for seasoned experts and newcomers, so standing out as an employer is crucial.

Rounding up the latest network engineering report

In summary, our latest UK network engineering report highlights a rapidly evolving industry facing dual challenges of high demand for talent and a shortage of skilled professionals. The integration of AI, regional fintech development, and initiatives to increase diversity are key solutions. 

Our guide based on the report also explored telecommunications innovations, fibre engineering challenges, and the thriving landscape of network engineering contract jobs, particularly in London and the Southeast. The key message is clear: Embrace change, foster diversity, and leverage technology to successfully navigate the UK network engineering sector.

Download our 2023 Global Networking Report to learn more about the topics outlined in this guide and gain insight into the US, European, and APAC network engineering markets.

Looking to power your future in network engineering?

If you’re looking to grow in the enterprise network engineering space but need talent to help you achieve your goals, we can help. Whether you require permanent or contract network engineers, our specialist consultants are primed and ready to connect your company with the market’s best candidates. 

So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with our network engineering recruitment team today and power your brand with us.