Networking professionals build, install, test and maintain computer networks. They design and analyze systems, troubleshoot hardware and software, ensure the security of systems, and evaluate and recommend new technologies. They also provide technical support, perform data recovery, manage licenses and conduct training sessions.
Those interested in network computing should be able to think critically, enjoy solving problems and possess a high-level understanding of technology. It’s important to be able to communicate well with both technical and non-technical people alike.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or a related field is usually the basic requirement for networking professionals. While it’s still possible to find employment without a college degree, managerial positions usually require a master’s.
It is also helpful to obtain technical or professional certifications, such as the Cisco Certified Network Professional, Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert or the Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Enterprise Administrator certifications.
Computer networking job titles, functions and responsibilities are often interchangeable. For example, a networking professional may go by the title of network administrator, network engineer, network architect or data communications analyst. Networking involves working with specific equipment and technologies such as routers and switches, wireless equipment and network protocols.
Daily job duties in computer networking may include designing, installing and administering some of the following:
Hardware and software must be integrated, configured and maintained, and network activity gets monitored and maximized to ensure high availability and security against hackers and viruses. Cybersecurity, wireless networking, Voice over IP (VoIP) and virtualization is the next big wave in computer networking.
As companies move from paper-based systems to automated databases and networked mobile devices, the need to share data quickly and securely continues to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that career opportunities within network administration will grow faster than the average for all careers during this decade with a predicted 27 percent increase in jobs expected between 2006 and 2016.
According to the BLS, computer networking professionals earned an average salary of $62,130 as of May 2006 with those in the highest 10 percent of the salary range earning over $97,000.