Career as an ICT Engineer
Marcus James makes sure that all computer and communications equipment throughout his regional fire service works correctly and is properly maintained. As an information and communications technology (ICT) engineer, his role is vital, as control room operators rely on computers to log incidents and transmit information to stations and fire crew.
What do you do?
I am involved in all aspects of ICT for the West Midlands fire service, both operational and non-operational. I deal with servicing, repairing and installing all types of equipment, including computers, servers, printers and scanners.
How does this equipment help firefighters do their job?
When control operators receive details of an incident, they enter it into the command and control system which governs the whole operation. This identifies which fire engines are suitable for the job, where they are located and whether they have the right equipment.
The system sends details to the station, automatically activating the turn-out bells and lighting as well as printing details of the job. Fire crews will also get details of the job. Fire crews will also get details of any special conditions they need to be aware of, such as chemical spillages on the motorway or at the scene of a fire. You can see that it is vital that this communications system works efficiently all the time.
Do you have a typical day?
Generally, I am fault finding, maintaining and repairing equipment, or discussing requirements for new equipment. We like to take advantage of new technologies which we feel will be beneficial and I have recently been involved in providing all staff with internet access to the service's corporate network.
How did you become an ICT engineer?
I've always had an interest in computers and began working as a temporary technical assistant while taking my GNVQ in Information Technology. After finishing my course I became an assistant engineer and was promoted recently to my current position.
What about on-the-job training?
I've recently taken a CCNA, which is a technical qualification demonstrating a proficiency in installing, configuring, and maintaining networking equipment – basically the equipment that connects our PCs to our networks.
What hours do you work?
I usually start at 8.30am and finish around 6.00pm, but sometimes I have to stay late in order to finish a job. Recently we installed new computers at many of our stations and I worked until midnight on one occasion to ensure the new machines were all up and running for staff the next day.
What do you like best about your job?
I like working with computers but didn't want to end up alone in a room with one all the time. This work gives me the opportunity to interact with people as well. I like being able to help – people often contact me for advice. It's certainly not an average desk job and I get a lot of independence and variety in my work.
Marcus's route to becoming and ICT Engineer
- Intermediate GNVQ in Science and Art.
- Advanced GNVQ in Information Technology.
- HNC Computing.
- You won't learn it all from a book, so experience as many different technologies as you can.
- Qualifications are important and they help you to get your foot through the door.
ICT Engineer related jobs
- Computer hardware engineer
- Internet/web professional
- IT trainer
- Network manager
- Technical support person
Salary of an ICT Engineer
- There are no set salary scales for this kind of work.
- Starting salaries are between £17,100 and £25,000, with on-call supplements.
- A senior ICT manager could earn up to £40,000 a year in the fire brigade – more in the private sector.
- People with specialist skills in certain areas can command high salaries.
Steps towards a career as an ICT Engineer
- It is possible to begin training for ICT jobs straight from school, often as an information technology apprentice.
- Many entrants have further educational qualifications. An HNC/HND or degree in a relevant computer-related subject is excellent preparation.
- Although the ICT industry is expanding and there is a shortage of people with the appropriate skills, entry is still fairly competitive.
- It is helpful to get some experience before looking for work. Technology is constantly developing so it is important to demonstrate high level, up-to-date ICT knowledge and skills to future employers.
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