Keeping computers up and running requires the employment of skilled professionals like computer networking technicians. These individuals have dedicated themselves to understanding, maintaining, and troubleshooting computer networking problems. Technicians work directly with users, so they need strong communication and listening skills, and the ability to solve problems quickly.
A person who is curious about the inner workings of computer networks may want to consider becoming a computer networking technician. These professionals are computer support specialists who install and maintain local- and wide-area networks and Internet servers. The requirements for becoming a networking technician vary; however, professional certification and experience are often the most important factors.
|Required Education||Varies from computer classes to associate's or bachelor's degrees|
|Certification||Voluntary, but may be required by some employers; CompTIA A+ is common; other network certification as needed|
|Other Requirements||Work experience|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||12% (for computer support specialists)|
|Median Salary (2016) **||$43,786 (for network technicians)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Salary Information for Computer Networking Technicians
National salaries for the majority of network technicians ranged from $30,548 to $65,993 in October 2016, according to PayScale.com, not including bonuses. The median annual wage was $43,786 at that time.
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Networking Technician Career Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), networking technicians are qualified for work in a wide range of industries, including computer system design, telecommunication firms, schools, hospitals and government agencies. The BLS also reported that job prospects should be good in any industry, with the employment of computer support specialists projected to increase by 12% from 2014 to 2024.
Most employers require experienced technicians to be familiar with a wide variety of network types and providers. Formal education, either as a bachelor's or an associate's degree program in computer science or information systems, may be required for advanced positions. Technicians in entry-level positions may receive on-the-job training. The BLS reports the average length for such training is about three months. The day-to-day duties of computer networking technicians often include:
- Installing and configuring networks and Internet systems
- Performing routine network maintenance
- Troubleshooting network or server problems
- Assisting clients or customers
Computer Network Certification Exams
For some employers certification is mandatory. There are many specific and specialized certification exams offered by network vendors, such as Cisco, Microsoft and Novell for technicians at beginning or advanced stages in their career.
A more general and highly regarded exam is the CompTIA A+ certification offered by the non-profit organization CompTIA. To become certified, the network technician must pass two exams that test essential network knowledge and practical troubleshooting. CompTIA recommends that test-takers have at least 500 hours of experience in the industry.
Computer networking technicians perform predominantly maintenance and troubleshooting duties to keep computer systems running and to keep users happy. The median salary for this career field was just under $44,000 in October 2016, per PayScale.com, and the BLS projects a fast rate of job growth during the 2012-2024 decade. After earning postsecondary education, most individuals will need to gain certification throughout their careers to stay current with new skills and technology.