Should I Become a Computer Network Technician?
Computer network technicians manage, troubleshoot, repair, and implement computer and network systems. They typically work in a variety of industries in private, nonprofit and government organizations. In some settings, technicians must be available around the clock, necessitating night, weekend, and holiday scheduling. These workers need technical skills, along with communication skills to interact with clients and co-workers who may not be as computer savvy.
|Degree Level||Varies; associate's degree or other post-secondary training may suffice|
|Certification||Optional certifications is available|
|Experience||Previous related experience may be required; on-the-job training common|
|Key Skills||Writing, speaking, listening, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills; ability to use backup or archival programs; familiarity with operating system, desktop communication, configuration management, and other related software; industry-specific tools like network analyzers and hard disk arrays|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$62,250 (for computer network support specialist)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online
Career Roadmap to Follow
Let's go over each of the steps needed to become computer network technician:
Step 1: Acquire College Training
Community colleges, technical schools, and vocational institutions offer 6-month to 2-year programs that introduce students to computer systems, communications, programming languages, and software support. Graduates could transfer credit earned to a bachelor's degree program to further their education.
Since employers may prefer applicants who have worked in an internship while an undergraduate, it is recommended to complete an internship. Internship programs allow students to receive practical instruction regarding computer engineering and networking.
Step 2: Find an Entry-Level Position
Most industries that use computer and networking systems employ computer network technicians to install, maintain, and troubleshoot problems. Once hired, these technicians typically complete on-the-job training for at least three months. During their training, they can learn how to write software, develop training materials for staff, and maintain records.
Step 3: Obtain Professional Certification
Technical certification can demonstrate proficiency in general industry standards or specific vendor technologies. Though no formal education is required to test for a credential, most certifying organizations recommend sufficient knowledge or experience with the technologies covered in the examinations.
Certifications are available in hardware, software, and technical theory areas. Computer network technicians interested in specializing in networking or security might find Cisco certifications beneficial, as well as vendor-neutral networking credentials offered by CompTIA or ISC (2). Those who specialize in software support could benefit by earning Microsoft, Linux, or Apple certifications.
To maintain certification, network professionals must pass another exam or accrue continuing education credits every few years. The certifying body typically offers continuing education courses.
Step 4: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Several schools offer a wide variety of relevant majors. These 4-year programs teach students the fundamentals of computer architecture, systems configuration, network management, and software programming. Earning a bachelor's degree may qualify computer network technicians for more advanced careers in the IT field.
In summary, computer network technicians usually need an undergraduate degree in a field related to computers, and voluntary certification and on-the-job training are available.