The number of computer networking jobs is growing. Knowledgeable workers are in demand if they have the necessary education and certification.
Types of Computer Networking Jobs
A survey by Robert Half International Consulting reported that computer networking is the most "in-demand" specialty in the information technology area. They surveyed 1,400 chief information officers and 32% named networking as the highest area of job growth within their departments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects for workers in this field will be excellent through at least 2018.
Networking jobs are available in a variety of job settings including large corporations, small businesses, professional offices and government organizations.
Computer networking offers an excellent career path since it involves a series of different jobs, each with different requirements and responsibilities:
- Network Administrator: The person with this job title is responsible for designing, installing and managing local area networks and wide area networks, Internet and intranet systems on a day-to-day basis. The median salary for this position is $89,460 per annum.
- Network Systems Engineer: This person focuses on system upgrades, security testing and evaluating vendor products. The average salary for this position is about $75,132 per year.
- Network Service Technician: This technical position is responsible for the set up, troubleshooting and repair of hardware and software issues. Median salaries range from $30,000-$64,000.
- Network Programmer/Analyst: This person writes software scripts or utility programs to help with network diagnosis or monitoring. Part of their responsibility may also include evaluating and integrating new software technologies into a new or existing network. Median salary is about $67,000.
- Network/Information Systems Manager: This person supervises the work of administrators, engineers, technicians, programmers and analysts. She provides long-range planning and strategies. The average salary for this position is $121,580.
Finding Computer Networking Jobs
Even with the job growth in the field, it can be difficult to find an entry-level computer networking position. Some job seekers start their networking careers with a summer internship or a part-time job while they complete their education. To find these types of positions, a student can check with Student Services at his school to find out whether the institution posts job opportunities or hosts on-campus recruiting events. Instructors at the school may also be a good source for job leads, and a student should make a point of approaching a few of them to ask for a referral.
Going online is another effective strategy for job seekers looking for computer networking jobs. Most companies post available opportunities on their websites, so you may want to make a list of potential employers and check each website individually. You may also want to check out IT job boards:
Education and Certification Requirements
A current understanding of network computing is the key to your success in the field. You can gain this understanding through technical courses, college degrees and certifications.
Technical and College Degrees
If you are planning on a career in computer networking, you may benefit greatly from earning a four-year college degree. The degree may not be in "computer networking," but instead be referred to as a degree in:
- Computer Science
- Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Information Systems
- Communications Science
- Telecommunications Management
Shorter term technical education programs are also available which focus on networking topics.
Many companies look for certification as a way to show that the potential employee has a current understanding of networking technology. Certifications like the Cisco Certification programs are ways to acknowledge an individual's competency. To get certified, you can either self-study or enroll in a certification course to prepare for the lengthy certification exam. The cost of taking the exam is usually between $100 and $300. Employers may reimburse employees for the cost of certification.
Popular Cisco networking certifications include:
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is an entry-level networking certification.
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) is an advanced networking certification in LAN/WAN technology.
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is one of the premier certifications in computer networking.
Is Computer Networking for You?
Computer networking is a broad employment field which includes aspects of hands-on hardware installation, software programming, network analysis and management. It requires your commitment to stay knowledgeable about the network of your employer as well as the changes in technology that might affect your employer's network.