Network technicians are responsible for the daily maintenance of a computer network and should know how to install, troubleshoot and repair all components of a computer network, including network security. Jobs for network technicians are available in almost every industry. The learning path to become a network technician includes education, certification and experience.
Many network technicians have a bachelor's degree in computer science or computer engineering. Either of these majors should include courses in computer hardware, software, programming and security. In some cases, a network technician may have combined an associate degree in computer science with a certificate from a career school and several years of experience.
According to the IT trade organization CompTIA, "IT professionals with certifications on their resume command better jobs, earn higher salaries and have more doors open to new multi-industry opportunities." CompTIA offers the vendor neutral A+ certification for entry-level network technicians, and the Network+ certification for network technicians with some experience. Cisco, a large Internet networking equipment company, offers two entry-level certifications for network professionals and both lead to several expert certifications.
Experience and Skills
The learning path to be a network technician includes some on-the-job training. There is a wide variety of network technology and each has subtle differences. People interested in becoming a network technician should try to gain exposure to as many types of networks as possible. Network technicians should be able to communicate with users, analyze symptoms to troubleshoot problems and handle working on several problems at the same time.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the job outlook for network technicians is expected to grow 28 percent through 2020. Network technicians who have current technology knowledge and skills will have the best job opportunities. CompTIA reports that there were more than 250,000 open information technology jobs in the United States at the beginning of 2013.
2016 Salary Information for Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Network and computer systems administrators earned a median annual salary of $79,700 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, network and computer systems administrators earned a 25th percentile salary of $61,870, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $102,400, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 391,300 people were employed in the U.S. as network and computer systems administrators.