Does Computer Science Interest You?
Many people are lured into a career as a computer networking engineer or computer network technician by the high demand and high pay that goes with these positions. They soon realize, however, that many of the job titles and job descriptions are vague and vary from one company to the next, and that competition is fierce for the highly coveted manager positions. Learn more about your career options by obtaining a computer networking degree.
Computer Networking Education
Getting a college degree in networking is the first goal for anyone who wants to find employment, but it is rare to find a program precisely called "computer networking degree." Program names can vary from Communications Science to Computer Science, Information Systems or Management Telecomputing. Most four-year degrees address many technical subject areas besides computer networking in their coursework, while other programs offer a more focused computer networking curriculum in a more condensed timeline. You can find everything from certificate programs in Wireless Communications right up to master's degrees in Network and Communications Management. A master's degree will help you start at a higher position, but in this field, you can expect to keep updating your knowledge as technology continues to change at a rapid pace.
Certifications like Microsoft MCSE and Cisco CCNA are popular and can go a long way to establishing your credibility with potential employers. They require receiving a passing grade on a lengthy exam and recertifying every two or three years. The tests generally cost from $100 to $300 to write, but these costs may be reimbursed by your employer.
Computer Networking Job Descriptions
Keep in mind that job titles and duties vary from one company to the next, but in general, you can expect requirements, responsibilities and pay to increase as the job descriptions progress from Network Administrator up to Senior Network Engineer.
- Network Administrator: Configures, manages and maintains LANS and possibly WANs.
- Network Technician: Sets up, troubleshoots and repairs hardware and software related to the network. Service technicians often need to travel to update networks in the field or offer support.
- Network Engineer: Focuses mainly on upgrades to the system, security testing and evaluating vendor products for the needs of their employer.
- Network Programmer or Analyst: Writes software or scripts to facilitate network analysis, diagnosis and monitoring. They're often called on to evaluate third-party products and integrate new technologies into existing networks or build new environments.
- Network Manager: Supervises the above positions and focuses on strategies and long-range plans for the network.
Computer Networking Experience
Getting hired in an entry-level position is tricky for those in the computer networking field since experience plays a large part in the selection process. Large companies will often have a glut of applicants to choose from, and smaller companies are less likely to place their critical networks in the hands of someone who is qualified but lacks on-the-job experience. Landing the first job may involve taking an internship or working part-time. While these may not provide you enough opportunity to complete large projects, they'll show to potential employers that you are committed and dedicated to working in the computer networking field.
Computer Networking Salaries
Finding a well-paying job in computer networking is a given, provided you can demonstrate the necessary experience, credentials and current certifications. Salaries are often linked to job title—on average, network administrators earn $52,000, network analysts earn $58,000, network engineers make $67,000 and senior network engineers make $80,000.