Becoming a Cisco Network Technician
Network technicians, also known as computer support or computer network support specialists, maintain, troubleshoot, and test the network systems used by companies of all sizes. They work with various types of technology, including wide area networks, local area networks, and Internet systems.
Support specialists who work with computer networks can find employment in almost any kind of industry. Some network technicians can work from home, while others travel to meet clients' networking needs onsite. This schedule is flexible, but that could mean working nights and weekends when network issues must be resolved promptly.
|Degree Level||Varies; undergraduate degree common|
|Degree Field||Information science, engineering, computer science, or another related field|
|Experience||Employers typically require related experience|
|Licensure and Certification||Several voluntary certifications are available such as the Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) or Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) credentials; exams are required|
|Key Skills||Writing skills; problem-solving and communication skills; familiarity with operating system administration, network monitoring, and network software|
|Median Salary*||$62,250 (for computer network support specialists)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May, 2014), Cisco Systems, *O*Net Online.
Let's go over some of the steps necessary to land a career in this field:
Earn a Degree
A specific degree is not required to become a Cisco network technician. However, applicants who have completed an associate's degree program in the fundamentals of networking and data communications have greater career opportunities.
A bachelor's degree in computer science, computer networking, or a related field is typically needed to attain higher positions and advance in the field. Earning a degree demonstrates that technicians understand how computer networks and systems work. The coursework includes classes in project management, network analysis, and design.
Employers value applicants with experience related to computers in a network environment. Prospective technicians should know how to install, test, and troubleshoot workstation hardware, software, and networked devices. They must also be familiar with Cisco routers, switches, cabling, and firewalls. A proven record in computer-related work is a big plus when seeking employment.
Although there are no prerequisites for the CCENT and CCT credentials, Cisco recommends several related training courses. The company maintains its own online training site, the Cisco Learning Network Premium. This recommended training can help technicians prepare for the required certification examinations. Other Cisco training programs are offered at a variety of locations across the country, including at high schools, training centers, community colleges, and technical schools.
Students who complete the CCENT or CCT program must pass a certification exam. Obtaining either credential is needed to advance into larger and more complex Cisco training programs, as well as obtain other certifications, such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credential. Industry certification validates an individual's network skills and knowledge.
Though requirements for obtaining a job as a Cisco network technician might vary, those aspiring to such a position should consider earning an undergraduate degree, gaining some experience in the field, and earning voluntary certification.