A bachelor's degree in something related to computer science is the best first step to becoming a network analyst, but other routes of entry into this field are also possible. This includes certificate programs and associate's degrees, which usually need to be combined with some sort of work experience. You might consider a career as a network analyst if configuring and troubleshooting computer network systems within a company sounds appealing.
Network analysts are computer experts who prepare computers in a network, which enables the computers to be able to work together and share information. Analysts make hardware and software configurations for businesses by analyzing their needs in order to help them achieve their network system goals. This may include setting up all the computers within one physical location or for multiple locations across a vast network for a sole organization.
Several avenues are available to become a network analyst, all of which involve some level of formal education. Though it's not set in stone, this education should usually focus on a form of computer science or information systems management.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree is common, though some positions may only require a certificate or an associate's degree|
|Other Requirements||Voluntary certification is available and often preferred by employers|
|Projected Job Growth||8% from 2014-2024 (for all computer systems and network administrators)*|
|Average Salary (2015)||$82,200 annually (for all computer systems and network administrators)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
To gain entry into the field, one may choose to obtain a network analyst certificate. A certificate program focuses on basic computer programming, system design and gaining an understanding of how to configure, maintain and troubleshoot a computer network. With a high school education and a certificate, a candidate could gain entry into the field but would likely need significant work experience in order to become a qualified network analyst.
An Associate of Science in Computer Network Administration is another good base education to obtain. These programs last approximately 20 months with coursework training in the areas of:
- Configuring and installing networks
- Repairing and troubleshooting systems
- Analyzing and designing computer systems
- Types of operating systems and multimedia technologies
Those with an accredited associate degree are then qualified to take specific industry certification exams offered in systems such as Linux, Cisco, MCITP, Security and more.
Employers are looking to set the career entry bar higher due to an increase in competition for jobs in this field. Thus, the best way to become a network analyst is through a combination of work experience and a bachelor's degree. While a bachelor's degree program can prove a grasp of basic math and general computer use, a concentration in computer science, management information systems (MIS), engineering or information science is essential.
Ultimately, continuing education will likely be required to stay abreast of changes in the technological field. This can commonly be achieved through professional seminars, software and hardware company training or traditional education. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is becoming more common as technology continues to advance. An MBA program with a focus on information systems may set you ahead of the pack.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Computer and Information Sciences, General
- Computer Programming
- Computer Systems Analysis
- Data Entry Processing
- Information Technology Management
- Networking and Telecommunications
- Software and Computer Media Applications
Network analysts can come from a wide range of people with computer expertise, as long as these individuals understand how computers communicate with one another and work together. They may have to work on a variety of networking systems for the Internet, Intranets, wide area networks (WAN) or local area networks (LAN). Analysts usually begin a job by asking questions of their employer and assessing their desires for the system and its functionality. For instance, in analyzing the scope of a project, they determine what hardware and software is necessary, what type of data is to be used, how the information is to be shared across a network and how the network will ultimately be configured.
The work of a network analyst is highly analytical by nature. In preparing a system, analysts may use flow charts in diagramming how computer programmers can perform system checks. They use various complex techniques of modeling data and information engineering. Analysts may need to run a series of tests in assessing the viability and troubleshooting of the systems they create.
Network analysts typically work in comfortable areas such as offices and labs. It is possible for analysts to work remotely on occasion. In doing so, they are simply sending information over a computer, allowing the computer to process the information that is necessary to analyze a system. Their jobs aren't known to be physically demanding, and analysts usually work a 40-hour week, sometimes more. They do, however, face possible eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome and potential back problems from sitting and working with computers for long hours.
Outlook and Salary Info
Analysts can work for themselves, but many work for computer consulting companies. Network and computer systems administrator positions were expected to rise at an average rate of eight percent from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Network and computer systems administrators made an average salary of $82,200 per year in May 2015.
Network analysts are needed by businesses and organizations to correctly configure computer networks. This requires knowledge that can be gained by earning a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree, and then a commitment to continuing education to stay abreast of changes in the field. This job is typically office-based and highly analytical, and requires a certain degree of interpersonal skills to interact with clients.