Become a Communications Analyst
A communications analyst, also known as a data communications analyst or a network analyst, designs computer network systems and implements and evaluates their performance. These individuals work with several different kinds of data communications systems, including local area networks (LANs), intranets, extranets and wide area networks (WANs).
Communications analysts also monitor the computer networks for necessary repairs and may install computer security measures. They may work individually or as part of a team. Evening and weekend hours may be required to address network problems. In some cases, it may be possible to do some of this work remotely. This job can also be physically taxing to workers, affecting their eyes, back, hands and wrists over the long-term.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for a computer systems analyst is $85,800. Here are the career requirements for a communications analyst:
- A bachelor's degree and some employers someone with a master's degree. The degree field should be computer science, computer programming or a related field.
- Certification is recommended, such as a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert Data Center certification, also called a CCIE Data Center certification.
- Employers want someone with 5-10 years of related experience.
- The key skills for a communications analyst to have includes operations and systems analysis, knowledge of electronic equipment, circuit boards, chips, blueprints, processors and technical plans, use of software including administration, configuration management, network security, network management, and anti-virus.
Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer network architects typically enter the field with at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. A student enrolled in such a degree program typically takes courses in programming, computer information systems, data structures, algorithms, computer architecture, database design and operating systems.
Success tip: Consider an Internship
An undergraduate enrolled in a computer science program may gain experience in the field by taking part in an internship program. In some cases, such an internship may be a mandatory part of the degree program. Some private employers employ interns, as do certain government agencies. Student interns may learn how to create and implement computer networks, including LANs and WANs, under the guidance of experienced professionals. Such opportunities may enhance a student's knowledge base and increase his or her chances of finding a job after college.
Step 2: Get Experience in the Field
Some employers require job candidates to have five years of experience working with computers before they will be considered for a position, such as a computer network architect. Other positions, such as a data communications analyst, require only bachelor's degree and have less demanding experience requirements. An individual wishing to gain experience may find it helpful to attain an entry-level position, such as computer programmer or network hardware technician. After a few years of good job performance in an entry-level position, more advanced opportunities may become available.
Success Tip: Get Certified
According to the state of California, it has become a standard expectation in the computer industry that information technology professionals earn certificates for specific computer skills. Different certificates are awarded for expertise in different skills; the expected certificate to be earned may differ by employer. One certification recommended for computer network architects by the U.S. Department of Labor is the CCIE Data Center certification. Individuals may earn this certification by passing an exam, and it must be renewed every two years. This certificate verifies the holder's ability to create, implement, monitor and troubleshoot computer networks.
Step 3: Earn a Master's Degree
Individuals working as communications analysts or computer network architects may find that some positions require job candidates to have a Master of Business Administration (MBA), with coursework related to information systems. Such a degree may help professionals learn industry best practices for how to manage information networks effectively and how to oversee the performance of employees who work with information technology. Such a degree program may include courses in data communications, electronic commerce, systems analysis and information systems management.
Step 4: Find a Starting Position
A master's degree often gives experienced analysts the edge needed to advance to roles, such as that of information technology (IT) manager. Management positions are tiered, with some top positions requiring as much as 15 years experience in the field. Therefore, analysts seeking entry-level management positions may have greater success within smaller organizations.
Getting a bachelor's degree in a related field, gaining experience, getting certified, earning a master's degree, and finding a starting position are good ways to prepare for a career as a communications analyst.