What Computer Networking Skills Do I Need to Be Successful?

Understanding programming, computer fundamentals and network hardware can be important for a successful career in computer networking, and you may also be proficient in maintaining, building, operating and analyzing network systems. Read on to learn more about these skills and your career options. Schools offering Cisco Network Systems degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Essential Skills

Careers in computer networking are tasked with making sure that individuals or companies can access information from server databases and the Internet. Proficiency in computer networking also means that you may be able to accommodate various amounts of people on any given network system, and it also involves understanding emerging technologies to keep older systems current.

To be successful in this field, you need to know about Internet systems, computer problem-solving techniques and related maintenance. With the necessary skills, you may understand how to maintain system performance, analyze network systems and prevent future issues.

Important Facts About This Field

Network Support Specialist Network Architect Network Administrator
Key Skills Customer-service, listening, and speaking skills Leadership, organizational, and interpersonal skills Multitasking, communication, and computer skills
Similar Occupations Database administrator, customer service representative Computer programmer, information security analyst Computer hardware engineer, web developer
Professional Certification Product certifications are requested (and sometimes required) by employers Product certifications are requested (and sometimes required) by employers Offered by companies like Microsoft and Cisco
Work Schedule Full-time, sometimes at night or on weekends Full-time, office setting Full-time, office setting

Computer Fundamentals

Basic skills learned while pursuing a computer networking career includes working with Microsoft Windows, Linux and UNIX operating systems. Valuable skills also include knowing how computers work, how to build computer systems, techniques needed to install computer components and protocol used in upgrading systems. You may also need to know how to use Microsoft Office applications to excel at word processing and making spreadsheets.

Computer Programming

Computer programming skills include understanding how to write code and develop software for computers and network systems. With programming skills, you may also be able to assist in database design, C++ programming, programming logic, fixing computer script issues and programming Cisco network systems. Since some networks incorporate the Internet and website usage, some Web authoring skills may also be needed.

Network Hardware

In addition to working with computer hardware, you also need to know how to establish, maintain and troubleshoot network system hardware. With hardware skills, you may know how to build local and wide area network systems, including how to choose and layout the proper cabling. Along with network design and installation, knowledge in router switching, server security and Internet protocol may also be necessary.

Career Options

Although a bachelor's degree education may be sufficient, you may be able to find entry-level careers with an associate's degree education. Your skills may lead to a career as a computer network support specialist, network architect or network administrator.

Network Support Specialist

As a network support specialist, you'd help fix networking problems and be responsible for regular maintenance and testing. In addition to fixing problems on-site, you may provide email or phone support. This career usually requires at least some postsecondary coursework, though you may need a bachelor's degree to work for some employers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates 11% employment growth for network support specialists between 2016 and 2026, and this career had a median salary of $53,470 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov).

Network Architect

Unlike network support specialists who troubleshooting and maintain existing networks, network architects are responsible for creating new networks. They choose the appropriate network hardware and cabling, as well as plan the network's design. To become a network architect requires at least five years of previous work experience and a bachelor's degree. The BLS expects fast job growth of 6% between 2016 and 2026. Network architects received a median annual wage of $109,020 as of May 2018.

Network Administrator

As a network administrator, you'd have a wider variety of job duties than support specialists or network architects. For example, you might be responsible for network security, provide training, troubleshoot problems, install networking equipment and monitor the network's performance. Entering this occupation usually requires a bachelor's degree or postsecondary certificate. According to the BLS, this field will see an average 6% growth from 2016-2026, and network and computer systems administrators received a median income of $82,050 in May 2018.

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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