Solving problems on a computer network can be a complex task. Computer network specialists are the experts called in to fix those problems. Often, they work under time constraints, as the organization is dependent on its information systems. Salaries for these professionals vary according to work setting, industry and location.
Work Setting Variations
The BLS reports the average annual salary for computer network specialists was $64,160 in 2013. However, salaries ranged from $35,330 to $99,810. Most computer network specialists worked in computer systems design and related services in 2013, where the annual average salary was $65,000. The next largest industry employer was wire telecommunications carriers, with a salary of $68,430. Computer network specialists in management of companies and enterprises earned $65,080, and those in local governments averaged $58,160. In colleges, universities and professional schools, computer network specialists earned an average of $56,610.
Other employment venues for computer network specialists employed smaller numbers of workers, but, in several cases, salaries were significantly higher. Computer network specialists in computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing earned $81,250 in 2013, the BLS reports. Amusement parks and arcades were a small employer but paid an average annual salary of $85,680. Although securities and commodities exchanges employed only 30 computer network specialists, the average annual salary was $88,650. The oil and gas extraction industry was the highest-paying of all work settings or industries, with an average salary of $92,780.
State of the States
The state in which a computer network specialist worked had a significant effect on salaries in 2013. West Virginia was the lowest-paying state, with an average annual salary of $42,880, the BLS reports. The five top-paying states, however, paid considerably more than average. New York paid an average of $73,700, and Massachusetts paid $75,440. Computer network specialists in California earned an average of $76,320. On the other side of the country, those in Connecticut averaged $78,410. Washington, D.C., paid more than any state, at $83,510 annually.
Location, Location, Location
Within a state, salaries might have little variation or be strikingly different. Ames and Iowa City, Iowa, showed little variation in pay for computer network specialists, at $52,040 and $52,850, respectively, according to the BLS. Boulder and Colorado Springs, Colorado, had a little more variation, with average salaries of $61,930 and $69,520. The difference between the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale area of California and the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area was significant, with an average salary of $70,980 for the first area and $90,760 for the second. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara was also the top-paying metropolitan area, while the highest-paying nonmetropolitan area of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, paid an average salary of $87,300.
Education and Job Outlook
Computer network specialists are trained to install, configure and troubleshoot computer hardware and software. An associate degree is acceptable in some organizations, but others require a bachelor’s degree. Changes in technology and software require ongoing education. As with many computer-related occupations, computer network specialists can expect opportunities in cloud computing and health care, according to the BLS. The BLS estimates that job growth for these professionals will be 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is slightly faster than average.
2016 Salary Information for Computer Support Specialists
Computer support specialists earned a median annual salary of $52,550 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, computer support specialists earned a 25th percentile salary of $40,120, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $68,210, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 835,400 people were employed in the U.S. as computer support specialists.