Entry-level computer networking specialists -- or computer network administrators -- work with experienced administrators to determine the networking and computer systems needs of companies. They also help install computer software, hardware and security systems, train users on applications and repair these systems when necessary. If you want to work as a computer network administrator, you need to get a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. In return, you can earn starting salaries averaging above $45,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary of an entry-level computer network administrator was $46,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Indeed. This salary is commensurate with those the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, reported for the bottom 25 percent of all network and computer systems administrators as of May 2012 -- less than $56,470 annually. To get an entry-level job in this field, you need at least a bachelor's degree in computer or electrical engineering. Some employers may prefer that you have one or more years of industry experience -- either from an internship or working as an assistant computer networking administrator. Other essential qualifications include analytical, communication, multi-tasking and problem-solving skills.
Salary by Region
In 2013, average salaries for entry-level computer networking administrator varied the most within the West region, according to Indeed, where they earned the highest salaries of $50,000 in California and lowest of $30,000 in Hawaii. Those in the Northeast made $40,000 to $56,000 per year in Maine and New York, respectively. If you worked as an entry-level computer networker in South Dakota or Illinois, you'd earn $34,000 or $50,000, respectively, which represented the lowest and highest earnings in the Midwest region. In the South, you'd make the least in Louisiana or most in Washington, D.C., at $39,000 or $55,000, respectively.
An entry-level computer networking administrator may earn more in certain industries, especially those in which experienced networking administrators earn more. For example, in 2012, network and computer systems administrators' salaries were highest in the oil and gas extraction industry at $103,560 per year, according to the BLS. They also earned comparatively high salaries of $102,560 in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry -- versus an industry average of $76,320 for all network and computer systems administrators. You may also earn more in the oil and gas extraction and petroleum products manufacturing industries as an entry-level computer networking administrator. You'd also earn more in New York and California because living and housing costs are higher in those states. If you earned $45,000 as a computer networking administrator in Birmingham, Alabama, you'd need to make $114,132 in New York City, according to CNN Money's "Cost of Living" calculator. In Los Angeles, you'd have to earn $66,117 for the same reason, or approximately 47 percent more.
The BLS projected a 28 percent increase in jobs for network and computer system administrators through 2020, which is faster than the national hiring average of 14 percent for all occupations. High demand for faster technology and mobile networks should increase jobs for both entry-level and experienced computer network administrators. You may also find job opportunities in this field as companies invest more in preventing computer security fraud. The health-care industry may be one of the fastest growing industries for these professionals, as demand for technical increases in hospitals and health-care organizations.