Computer networking is a broad field within information technologies that involves using hardware and software to share data and other resources. Most functions of computing beyond playing Solitaire require Internet access and a range of other networking services. If you seek a career in networking and have a master's degree, your prospects of finding a job and an above-average salary are quite strong.
Design the Network
Computer network architects plan, design and assist in the installation of computer networks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these network architects are in demand and are expected to grow in numbers by 15 percent between 2012 and 2022. Those with a master's degree, especially a Master's of Business Administration in Information Technologies, are particularly desirable, as many companies will only hire those in this category. Entry-level network architects, in the lowest 10 percent of earners, only start at $52,580. Since most firms employee highly trained professionals in this position, these beginning employees are typically those with either minimal experience or only an undergraduate degree. The 2012 median income for these professionals is $91,000 and the top 10 percent average $141,590 annually.
Manage the Network
Once a firm has a solid networking structure, it typically employees a network administrator to perform day-to-day maintenance, troubleshoot problems and expand the network as needed. Experienced network administrators with a master's degree have solid earning potential in this area as well. Entry-level administrators with less experience or education started at $44,330, according to the May 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. The median income for network admins was $72,560, and the top 10 percent of wage earners averaged $115,180, according to the same report.
Keep the Network Safe
Information security professionals work within a computer networking team as well as those in physical security and other departments of a firm to protect the data from hackers, malware and other potential loss. This occupation is expected to grow between 2012 and 2022 by 37 percent, according to BLS. Entry-level earners in this field average $42,770, while the median income is $77,990, and the top 10 percent average $124,860 yearly to provide this critical service.
Moving Beyond the Master's
Industry certifications are another critical factor in determining networking professionals' salaries. Cisco and CompTIA's Network+ certifications are in demand and should provide you with a higher starting salary regardless of degree, but if you have these certifications and a master's degree in an information technologies or business field you have even better prospects. Some certifications such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) require that you pass a substantial battery of exams and have five years of demonstrable experience and relevant education. An advanced degree in an information security field from the U.S. National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE) reduces by one year this required work experience. Crisp360.com estimated in 2012 that the average CISSP salary was $94,000.