Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) Career

Research what it takes to become a certified wireless network administrator. Learn about education requirements, job duties, median wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Computer Networking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)?

As a certified wireless network administrator, you will design, implement and manage new WiFi networks or manage an existing network. New network duties entail positioning and setting up transmitters and nodes in a LAN or WAN for optimum signal strength and usability, implementing security protocols, and implementing applications such as voice and video over WiFi.

They are also usually skilled in radio frequencies, antenna concepts, network design and installation, as well as how to troubleshoot problems that arise. They must understand the fundamentals of wireless technology, including how WLAN work. Their expertise includes installing, configuring, maintaining, and troubleshooting large wireless networks as might be found in larger companies and organizations.

Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career as a certified wireless network administrator is right for you.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree required by most employers
Education Field of Study Computer engineering or electrical engineering
Key Skills Analytical, communication, computer, and problem solving skills
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% for all network and computer systems administrators*
Median Salary (2017) $78,723 for all wireless communications engineers**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

What Training Programs are Available?

As of March 2017, U.S. schools didn't appear to offer programs specifically tailored to the CWNA exam, but a large number offer graduate certificate programs in wireless communications, wireless networking or wireless engineering. These are aimed at technicians who have a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering, computer engineering or computer science. A lesser number of bachelor's degree and master's degree programs in wireless networking or wireless communications are also available.

As a student, you will learn communication theory, RF circuits, antenna concepts and their implementations, signal amplification and filtering, wireless network design, transmission protocols and propagation mechanisms. Programs convey their content through a combination of academic courses, labs and fieldwork.

Where Do Professionals Work?

Any government agency, large non-profit organization, educational institution or business that chooses to set up and maintain a wireless network is a potential employer. Insurance companies, financial firms, healthcare providers, telecommunications firms and computer services firms are among the business entities that offer employment in this field. Job prospects for CWNAs will depend on the adoption rate of wireless network technology. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for network and computer administrators will increase eight percent from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Expansion of cloud computing will account for the increase.

What Job Duties Will I Have?

You will design, implement and manage new WiFi networks or manage an existing network as a CWNA. New network duties entail positioning and setting up transmitters and nodes in a LAN or WAN for optimum signal strength and usability, implementing security protocols, and implementing applications such as voice and video over WiFi. Management duties include monitoring and tuning network performance, adding new nodes and users, upgrading equipment, testing new applications and troubleshooting. You will also consult with users about their needs and provide training or tutoring to new users.

What Salary Could I Earn?

Certified Wireless Network Professionals reports that as of 2015, certified wireless network administrators earned an average salary between $71,250 and $105,750 (www.cwnp.com). Figures from Payscale.com in 2017 show salaries were $50,335 - $117,446 for all professionals in wireless communications engineering.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you like the idea of being certified as a wireless network administrator, you might also like working as an information technology (IT) manager or a senior systems engineer. An IT manager is a supervisor, one who oversees the computer mainframe of a company or organization. An IT manager has at least a bachelor's in information technology or computer science as well as experience working in IT departments. A senior systems engineer typically designs and oversees the maintenance of computer networks and servers and has a specialty like storage or virtualization. They need experience working with project designs as well as at least a high school diploma. Those with bachelor's degrees in engineering or a related technical field are often preferred.

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