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What Are the Basics of Data Communication?

Data communication is the process by which different technologies communicate with one another. Completing an associate's or bachelor's degree program in computer science or information technology lays the foundation for a data communications career.

Data Communications Overview

Data communications, sometimes called computer networking, is the system by which computers or other technologies are connected and share data. One common form of data communications is the Internet. Data communications is part of the electrical engineering discipline, but also relies on computer science principles.

Important Facts About Data Communications

Prerequisites General education requirements, including two years of a foreign language
Programs Internships available for practical experience
Key Skills Detail-oriented, leadership, interpersonal, organizational, and analytical skills
Similar Occupations Computer hardware engineer, information security analyst, computer systems analyst, and software developer

Local Area Network (LAN)

The most common place you'll find a local area network is within a business or organization that is confined to a limited area. An LAN is set up so all computers are connected to a main server. These connections allow everyone on the network to access specific data, such as company information. Individuals on the network are able to share or retrieve information from different computers. There is typically a general operating system, such as Windows, but other software can be installed. Other technologies, such as printers and scanners, may be connected to a LAN.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

A wide area network operates over long distances, and the Internet is a strong example of a WAN. This data communication system allows anybody with the proper technology to access the network. Both cellular phones and tablets also use WAN connections.

Personal Area Network (PAN)

You may be using a personal area network at this very moment and not realize it. A PAN is data communicated over a small area, such as in a home wireless network. This wireless network may be used as a router that transmits the Internet to your personal computer. Another example of a PAN is data communicated through Bluetooth. A Bluetooth connection could be between your computer and a keyboard or a headset and your cellular phone.

Degree Programs

Learning about data communications requires completing an undergraduate degree program. Both associate's and bachelor's programs exist in computer and information technology. Within an undergraduate program, you're introduced to network concepts, system administration and maintenance, security issues and operating systems.

Careers in Data Communications

You could work in data communications as a computer network architect, someone who designs and builds network systems. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of network architects would grow by about 4% from 2021-31. The BLS noted that in May 2021, the median annual wage for this occupation was $120,520.