Computer Network Consultant
Computer network consultant is a broad job title that encompasses several fields. A network consultant might be a network architect, a system administrator, a security specialist, or a number of different things. These consultants are responsible for designing, setting up, maintaining, and securing computer networks.
Many computer network consultants are self-employed, while others work for companies that provide networking services. Most of these professionals work full-time, and overtime is common when deadlines must be met. Some network consultants are able to work from home, but this work is generally done in an office setting. Travel or telecommuting to client locations may be required. Network consulting is associated with few physical demands or risks. However, keeping up with technical changes, meeting contract deadlines, and dealing with client demands may be emotionally taxing.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Computer science or related field|
|Experience||Varies with employer; 2 to 3 years of experience may be preferred|
|Certification||Numerous certifications are available and often preferred|
|Key Skills||Extensive knowledge of network and computer operating systems, considerable ability to communicate with clients|
|Salary||$77,810 per year (median for computer systems administrators)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2015)
Steps to Getting into this Career
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Employers typically prefer to hire computer network consultants who have a bachelor's degree an area such as computer science, information science, or a related field. Courses commonly found in these degree programs include programming, data structures, computer networks and architecture, database management, and operating systems.
To get the most out of your school career, pursue additional training. Depending on the school and degree program, students will have the opportunity to complete a capstone project and an optional externship for additional work experience. Actual working experience is valued by employers.
Step 2: Attain Certification
Professional certification demonstrates a person's ability to perform networking tasks. It demonstrates competency in the management, maintenance, installation, configuring, and troubleshooting of basic network infrastructure. Many certifications in operating systems, software, servers, securities, tools, and applications are available.
A broadly recognized certification available to entry-level consultants is the CompTIA Network+ certification. This particular certification is recommended for individuals who possess a minimum of nine months of experience in network administration and are CompTIA A+ certified. Several large employers incorporate CompTIA certifications as part of their own certification tracks.
You may also want to research certification options. There are many different certifications available at different levels. For example, organizations such as Microsoft and Cisco offer IT certifications for a variety of different professionals.
Step 3: Gain Experience
Career opportunities in network consulting can be found in any organization large enough to use its own computer network. Individuals may enter the workforce through positions such as a computer support specialist. They may provide technical assistance, monitor computer systems, assist with infrastructure planning and implementation, or perform routine computer network maintenance.
Step 4: Advance Your Career by Continued Education
The technology of computer networking changes constantly. Individuals in this field must constantly acquire new knowledge to keep up with those changes; additional job opportunities are open to professionals with technical certification.
Certification requirements depend upon the position and the employer, but always be certain that you keep up with the requirements in your field. After you have some work experience, consider further training and certification in a specialized field such as network security, network architecture and design, or specific operating systems such as Linux.
To review, with a bachelor's degree, some experience, and an optional certification, computer network consultants can earn roughly $78,000 a year to design, set-up, maintain, and secure computer networks.