Difference Between Technical Support & Network Engineer

Computer work is essential in the world today, and there are careers to ensure its smooth operation for users and businesses. This article compares the education, salaries and job duties of two vital careers in information technology.

Comparing Technical Support Specialists to Network Engineers

Technical support specialists and network engineers both work in the field of technology, however, their responsibilities are very different. Technical support specialists help clients with the internet or hard drive issues of a computer or system. Network engineers design and build a network system for a company, business or school. Below is a comparison of these two professions and some vital information about these careers.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary* (2016) Job Growth* (2014-2024)
Technical Support Specialists Associate's or Bachelor's Degree $49,390 (for all computer user support specialists) 13% (for all computer user support specialists)
Network Engineers Bachelor's degree $101,210 (for all computer network architects) 9% (for all computer network architects)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Technical Support Specialists vs. Network Engineers

Both technical support specialists and network engineers work with individuals or companies to troubleshoot problems and fix computer issues. However, technical support specialists work with both network and general computer user issues, while network engineers specialize in the concept and creation of data networks. Network engineers tend to work with businesses or organizations, creating networks for individual use, while technical support specialists work one-on-one with customers to help diagnose and solve problems with their computer use.

Technical Support Specialists

Technical support specialists are often referred to as computer user support specialists. Their main task is to fix problems with a computer user's hardware or network when they arise. These employees normally work for a business' information technology (IT) department. They perform routine maintenance and keep all information backed-up for various servers. They also monitor equipment to fix problems before they occur.

Job responsibilities of a Technical Support Specialist include:

  • Troubleshooting computer issues by phone or email
  • Traveling to fix computer issues for customers
  • Questioning customers to aid in finding technical problems
  • Testing and monitoring computer systems periodically
  • Training new employees on computer and network use

Network Engineers

Network engineers are also known as network architects. These professionals work with executives to build a network system that meets the needs of a company and employees using the system. Network engineers may be tasked with building local area or wide area networks (LANs or WANs) according to needs of a business. They also work to keep the network secure and ensure that all information is safe from hacking. Network engineers work to keep systems updated through the constant evolution of technology.

Job responsibilities of a Network Engineer include:

  • Meeting with executives to present network ideas
  • Creating layouts and plans for networks
  • Analyzing data use and traffic on networks
  • Supervising network's building process

Related Careers

Technical support specialists and network engineers both work with computers and network systems in various ways. Related career fields to consider include computer programming, which uses coding skills to create new programs, or computer hardware engineering, which deals with the design and creation of computer hardware.

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