Computer Networking Specialist: Job Description and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a computer networking specialist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling and training, job duties and other information to find out if this is the career for you.

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Computer networking specialists design, monitor, maintain, and fix computer system networks of all sizes. The job duties of these professionals may vary significantly, but they generally need broad and extensive knowledge of networking, computer systems, and periphery systems.

Essential Information

Computer networking specialists install, inspect, secure and troubleshoot networked computers within an organization. They might operate a help desk, provide physical duties or monitor for internal and external threats. Becoming a computer networking specialist typically requires extensive knowledge of network management.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Certification options available
Projected Growth (2014-2024) 8%* (for network and computer systems administrators)
Median Annual Salary (2015) $77,810* (for network and computer systems administrators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Computer Networking Specialist Job Description

The job of a computer networking specialist, also known as network analyst or administrator, varies based on the size and function of an organization. Primary duties include maintaining the integrity and security of a company's network and the systems connected to it. A computer networking specialist must have extensive knowledge of network connectivity, protocols, network security devices, network types, including wireless, fiber optic or Cat5, and common operating systems, such as Windows and UNIX.

In an entry-level capacity, computer networking specialists could be responsible for responding to troubleshooting calls and e-mails from users of the network. They'll need to be able to diagnose and offer repair instructions remotely, as well as in person. In an advanced role as an analyst or administrator, computer networking specialists often monitor network access for bottlenecks, security threats or problems with connectivity. They might also configure and maintain security devices to ensure the safety of company software, systems and data.

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Computer Networking Specialist Requirements

Educational Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), networking specialists usually need some college training, and a bachelor's degree is often preferred for the profession. Several universities offer relevant majors, such as computer science, network technology, software engineering or information security. These programs teach basic and advanced topics in networking fundamentals, and students can often take elective coursework to specialize in a specific area, such as security, network design or programming.

Certification

Several organizations and technology vendors offer professional certification that can be as helpful as a college education. Those wishing to demonstrate a general knowledge of networking could earn CompTIA's Network+ or Security+ credentials. Additionally, professionals working with specific networking hardware or software could prove expertise of a specific vendor's technologies by earning entry- and advanced-level certifications, such as Microsoft's Certified Technology Specialist or Cisco's Certified Network Professional.

Other Required Skills

Computer networking specialists must have excellent communication skills. They work with internal and external clients, vendors and other information technology professionals, requiring the ability to communicate in both technical and non-technical language. Working in an individual and group capacity could also be required. A computer networking specialist might need to lift and transport heavy computer equipment, travel or install networking cables or devices.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, network and computer systems administrators could expect an 8% increase in jobs from 2014-2024, and computer network architects could expect to see 9% growth in the same period. In 2015, the BLS reported the median annual salary for network and computer systems administrators was $77,810, and the median salary for computer network architects was $100,240.

Computer networking specialists maintain and monitor networks, communicate with vendors, and assist users. Employers typically require candidates to hold bachelor's degrees in computer-related fields, and certification is helpful as well. Job growth for career fields related to computer networking is expected to be average between 2014 and 2024.

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