How Do I Become a Network Technologist?

Research what it takes to become a network technologist. Learn about the career and salary outlook, educational requirements, and job duties to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Cisco Network Systems degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Network Technologist Do?

Network technologists fix, upgrade, configure, and maintain computer networks. They are responsible for expanding and maintaining a company's physical network. They will need to analyze the hardware and software used by a company to find ways to improve upon what is already there. While performing their tasks, network technologists should be able to effectively deduce problems in networks based on their knowledge of computers. Given the nature of the computer industry, they will also need to be actively learning new skills as needed to keep up with changing technology.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Education Required Associate's degree at minimum, bachelor's degree preferred by many employers
Education Field of Study Computer science, information technology
Certification Optional, could improve job opportunities
Key Responsibilities Fix network problems, make regular systems and device upgrades, test networks for efficiency, develop and design networks
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (for computer network support specialists)*
Median Salary (2017) $79,075 (for network control technicians III)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com

What Is a Network Technologist?

A network technologist, or network technician, is in charge of making sure an organization's networks run efficiently and safely. You'd fix networking problems and make regular upgrades to network systems and devices. You might also participate in network development, designing the network and choosing which hardware and software components to use. Performing regular maintenance, you'll test networks for efficiency, integrity, and usability.

You might be responsible for expanding and maintaining an organization's physical network, which could include installing, testing, and repairing networking cables or determining the layout of the network. You could also perform technical analyses of servers, systems, and applications to determine how to develop the most appropriate network. Some of your other responsibilities could include configuring operating systems, splicing network cables, organizing TCP/IP addresses, monitoring network hosting, and communicating problems to supervisors.

How Much Education Do I Need?

While some network technologist positions require just an associate's degree, many employers prefer a bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology. Bachelor's degrees in this field typically offer training in computer systems, essential network functions and devices, software, programming, and security. Some common course topics include computer ethics and law, configuring operating systems, information policy and security, cryptography, systems analysis, ethical hacking, programming, network installation, and website development.

Many employers prefer that you have experience in the field. Some degree programs in computer science or information technology facilitate internships or job shadowing to help you get professional experience. You could also earn voluntary, industry-specific certifications, such as CompTIA's A+, Network +, or Security+ credentials.

What Kind of Job Potential and Salary Could I Expect?

Salary.com reported in March 2017 that the median annual salary for entry-level network technicians (0-3 years of experience) was $52,026, while those with more than five years' experience earned a median income of $79,075. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated your job growth in a network support position would be about average, with demand for computer network support specialists expected to grow 8% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The reason behind the projected increase was the increased need for IT services to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of technology, as well as having clear advancement opportunities that create lower level vacancies.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Database administrators are in charge of online security for a company, encrypting their files to keep them safe from intrusion. Network and computer systems administrators monitor and direct the daily computer-related operations of a company. Computer network architects create new computer networks for companies to connect their users, from small to large scale based on need and objective. All of these positions require a bachelor's education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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