What is an infrastructure engineer?

Infrastructure Engineers design, build, manage and support the IT infrastructure that underpin all internal user services and services to the public. Within the Infrastructure Engineer job family, there are many roles with specific skills and capabilities relevant to particular areas of expertise. Specialist roles include:

  • Network Engineer
  • Cloud Engineer
  • Data Centre Specialist/Engineer
  • Unix Engineer
  • Wintel Engineer
  • Ops Centre
  • 3rd Line Build Engineer
  • Platform Shift Engineer
  • Telecoms Engineer
  • Security Operations Centre
  • Technical Infrastructure Engineer

​​​​As a member of the IE family, you’ll use your understanding of IT equipment and how components interact to make ensure the systems meet the user’s needs. This could mean delivering compute capacity to meet peak business demand, making it possible for multiple locations to access files on a server, or making sure crucial data is backed up regularly.

Why are Infrastructure Engineers so valuable?

They have a breadth of knowledge across multiple areas. While some may have deep expertise in particular areas, it’s their understanding of multiple disciplines that make them so valuable to an organisation.

What do Infrastructure do and not do?

The Infrastructure Engineer is an IT professional that:

  • DOESN’T know everything about everything
  • DOESN’T know every area in the Data Centre to the point that they never need to call anyone else
  • DOES have an appropriate level of understanding of every piece of the IT infrastructure
  • DOES have administration and configuration knowledge of end user applications, Windows Server, Linux, VMware, Cisco networking gear, servers, networking, cloud providers/offerings, and storage
  • DOES understand how all these things work together to make end user applications work, and work well
  • DOES know how to troubleshoot problems across all the components of the infrastructure
  • DOES keep an open mind and is ready to do whatever is possible (within IT standards & guidelines) to make the customers happy and business successful
  • DOES communicate to business people, application owners, and customers in plain English while keeping their needs and the needs of IT in mind
  • and probably does have multiple certifications across various brands and pieces that make up the infrastructure (MCITP, VCP, CCNP, and more).

Who do Infrastructure Engineers work with?

Close working relationships are established with Service Operations, Software Engineers, and Technical Architects – in a DevOps environment there is even more overlap. ​​​​​​​

What skills and qualities should an Infrastructure Engineer have?

  • IT skills, including programming/scripting
  • Network design skills
  • System testing skills
  • Be willing to keep up to date with technological advances
  • Ability to work to strict deadlines
  • Precise attention to detail
  • Ability to prioritise tasks
  • Organising skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • How do you become an Infrastructure Engineer?​​​​​​​
  • Most employers will expect you to have a Higher National Certificate (HNC)/Higher National Diploma (HND) or a degree before entering this career; however, alternative routes are available.

Infrastructure engineers often have degrees in subjects such as: ​​​​​​​

  • Computer science
  • Computer systems/networks
  • Software engineering systems
  • Sciences (such as Physics, and Mathematics)
  • ​​​​​​​Employers might consider applicants without formal qualifications if they can demonstrate knowledge and experience of the industry as well as appropriate evidence.

DDat Skills Snapshot

The table below shows the skills required at each level:

SkillAssociate Infrastructure EngineerInfrastructure EngineerSenior Infrastructure EngineerLead Infrastructure EngineerPrincipal Infrastructure Engineer
1Codingn/aAwarenessAwarenessWorkingWorking
2Information SecurityAwarenessAwarenessWorkingPractitionerPractitioner
3IT InfrastructureAwarenessWorkingPractitionerExpertExpert
4Modern Standards ApproachAwarenessWorkingPractitionerExpertExpert
5Ownership and InitiativeAwarenessWorkingWorkingPractitionerPractitioner
6Problem SolvingAwarenessAwarenessWorkingWorkingPractitioner
7Service Focusn/aWorkingWorkingWorkingPractitioner
8Systems DesignAwarenessWorkingPractitionerPractitionerPractitioner
9Systems IntegrationAwarenessWorkingPractitionerExpertExpert
10Technical Understanding (Infrastructure Engineer)AwarenessWorkingPractitionerExpertExpert
11Testingn/aAwarenessWorkingPractitionerExpert
12Troubleshooting and Problem ResolutionAwarenessWorkingPractitionerExpertExpert

What could I be doing?

Infrastructure Engineers are responsible for designing, building, deploying and maintaining IT infrastructure, using the very latest technology. You will make sure that the systems are operating correctly and also find ways to improve them.

Your duties could also include:

  • monitoring system performance
  • performing server and network maintenance
  • providing suitable documentation to support IT projects
  • maintain and monitor network security
  • perform critical data backups so nothing vital is lost
  • travelling to project sites, which could be anywhere in the world!
  • perform detailed tests when making changes to networks, hardware, or software
  • Training
  • You’ll need to keep up to date with the latest developments in the field as new technologies are constantly being developed. You can boost your knowledge by studying for industry qualifications, these include Microsoft Certifications.