Computer networking or telecommunications is a broad field that can include installing and repairing hardware such as telephone lines, or working on systems that relay and receive communications data. Telecommunications specialists, computer systems analysts, and network and computer systems administrators are all professionals who work in this industry. Although a degree is not required for all of these careers, a degree in networking or telecommunications will prepare individuals to compete for jobs in these fields.
Degrees in computer networking and telecommunications are available at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels. Master's-level programs may require students to pick a field of study such as computer systems or networking, and doctorates are typically focused on teaching or research professions. Online programs are available, allowing students to earn their degree from home. Of the three careers listed below, none require more than a bachelor's degree.
|Careers||Computer Systems Analyst||Network and Computer Systems Administrator||Telecommunications Line Installer And Repairer|
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree preferred, but not required||Bachelor's degree||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||21%||8%||6%|
|Annual Median Salary (2015)*||$85,800||$77,810||$52,920|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Individuals with a degree in computer networking or telecommunications might find employment as network systems and data communication analysts, computer systems analysts, network administrators or telecommunications analysts. Jobs in the networking or telecommunications industries generally involve designing and overseeing computer networks or telecommunications systems.
Career Information for Network Systems and Data Communication Analysts
Network systems and data communication analysts plan, design, test and oversee the operation of local area networks (LAN) and Internet systems for businesses and other organizations. They also investigate computer programs and recommend specific hardware or software solutions.
Computer Systems Analyst Career Information
Computer systems analysts conceptualize and develop computing systems for organizations and businesses. They may identify programs that can improve efficiency or design entirely new IT systems. When identifying the causes of system problems, systems analysts may research computer user information, business procedures and existing automated processes. As of 2014, the BLS reported that there were 567,800 computer systems analysts. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $85,800 as of May 2015.
Career Information for Network Administrators
Network administrators oversee the operation of company network and Internet systems to ensure they're functioning properly. They may also plan, design and coordinate computer software network systems. These professionals sometimes oversee computer and network security programs. In 2014, according to the BLS, there were 382,600 network and computer systems administrators in the nation. Network and computer systems administrators earned a median salary of $77,810 as of May 2015.
Telecommunications Specialist Career Information
Telecommunications specialists install networking and telecommunications systems designed by network systems and data communications analysts. They may also provide training on how to use programs and oversee their maintenance. According to the BLS, in 2014 there were 118,000 telecommunications line installers and repairers. As of May 2015 these professionals earned a median salary of $52,920.
Computer Networking or Telecommunications Degrees
Many times, schools combine the fields of computer networking and telecommunications into a single degree program. Associate in Science in Computer Networking and Telecommunications programs require about two years of study. Courses often include subjects like wide area network (WAN) theory and design, data telecommunications, desktop operating systems and Internet routing. Bachelor of Science degree programs in networking and telecommunications programs focus on networking, computer science and computer security systems. Classes in these programs include LAN and WAN design, data communications and network operating systems.
Master's degree programs are sometimes geared towards working professionals. These approximately 30-credit-hour programs may require that students select a field of specialization, such as computer systems and networking. Prior to graduating from a master's degree program, students are generally required to write a thesis. Doctoral programs tend to be research and teaching oriented. Students in these programs are usually required to write and defend a dissertation.
Computer systems analysts work on computer systems that businesses and organizations use. Network administrators oversee Internet and network systems to make sure that they're working correctly, and telecommunications specialists install and maintain the equipment used to relay and receive data, such as telephone lines. It's possible to pursue an associate's, bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in networking or telecommunications; a bachelor's degree is required to become a network administrator and an associate's or bachelor's degree is recommended for those seeking employment in the networking and telecommunications field.