As businesses and organizations become more dependent on timely and accurate data, their need for skilled networking professionals will increase. Whether a business employs less than ten people or hundreds of people, the need for a robust and user-friendly computer network has become vital. Networks allow for the free flow of information from one area of the company to another.

Graduates of networking programs may be involved in the initial design, development, testing, maintenance, and safeguarding of an organization’s computer networks. Work often involves company LAN’s, WAN’s, internal intranets, extranets, wireless networks, as well as software and security issues involved with the network.

The number of computer networking jobs available has risen quite dramatically over the past few years but so too has the number of people looking to fill these positions. Pay is typically considered to be good and working conditions are generally excellent. Companies employing computer networking professionals usually offer an extensive benefits package as well as a good basic salary.

Employment and Earnings Statistics

There are currently over a quarter of a million computer networking roles available in the country. This means there is a lot of opportunity for the entry-level network administrator but finding employment may become more competitive as you climb higher up the professional ladder. The starting salary for a newly graduated network engineer or network analyst will usually be in the region of $30,000 to $40,000. A recent graduate will often start in an entry-level position and work his or her way up.

Current Computer Network Requirements

Establishing and maintaining a network is a complex task that requires a very specific range of skills. A productive and well-designed IT infrastructure can help companies to save a significant amount of money each year. On the other hand, a poor network tends to lead to a decrease in Internet and email availability which, in turn, can lead to lost revenue and poor customer relations.

Unfortunately, companies looking to reduce costs may not be willing to employ the services of a full-time network administrator. As a result, there are more and more freelance or contract work positions becoming available for networking professionals.

The Best Course of Education or Vocation

Educational courses, or more specifically degrees, are the preferred choice of most employers. Anyone looking to start or advance a career in computer networking should start with a good solid high school background and then progress to studying for a degree offered by one of many computer networking schools available.

In addition to a small sample of specific networking degrees that are offered, shorter courses, usually ranging from nine months to two years are available that provide a faster, more direct approach. Again, different computer networking schools offer different options in this respect and different employers look for different qualifications. It is almost impossible to preempt the choice of a future employer but as long as a qualification is recognized and offers a genuinely useful curriculum then it will be a valid and often valuable addition to your resume.

View a list of schools in California offering computer networking >>

Computer Networking Jobs

  • Network Administrator/Engineer. A network administrator is responsible for establishing and effectively maintaining a local network or, more recently, a wireless network. Clearly, this encompasses many different aspects. Because professionals generally take these positions for their first job, employers expect network administrators to learn as they work but will also usually demand the appropriate qualifications.
  • Network Technician. A network technician is responsible for the technical repair and troubleshooting of hardware and software systems. This can include traveling to customers’ premises to help with the initial setup or fixing of a particular piece of software or hardware attached to, or comprising, the network.
  • Network Analyst/Programmer. While network analysts and network programmers are generally referred to in the same breath, the actual roles are different. A network analyst identifies problems or potential improvements to the network. They may also be responsible for the purchase of any software or scripts to aid in its remedy. However, it is a network programmer who will create the scripts and the software in question. Smaller companies tend to blur the lines of these two professions and expect candidates to be able to complete both roles.
  • Network Supervisors and Managers. Strictly speaking, supervisors and managers are not employed for their networking abilities. They are in charge of the administrators and other networking professionals. However, it is best if the manager has considerable experience working with networks to aid with any problems that may arise.

Computer Networking Program Details

Computer networking schools in California offer a wide range of different courses and degrees. There are, however, three basic types of qualifications one should aim for when looking to begin a career in computer networking.

Educational Certificates and Diplomas

Most California computer networking schools offer various certificates or diplomas. It has also become more commonplace for high schools to offer a relatively in-depth and hands-on diploma to students wishing to commit to additional networking studies after high school. All of these courses take a practical approach to the different aspects of networking. Generally, these courses will begin with an introduction to networks and the practical use of a hardwired network and a wireless network. This will be followed by a study of the hardware components of the network. Hardware components include the switches, routers, and other network hardware items as well as computers and general desktop hardware connected to the network. Software is covered, although, not in as great a depth as in other courses.

Degree Programs

In addition to the several general computing degrees that involve elements of computer networking, there are some degrees aimed solely at computer networking. These degrees presume a basic knowledge of computers as well as a basic understanding of networks. Depending on the exact degree you choose, it will tend to either concentrate on the hardware or software side of a computer network.

Certificates

Many professionals look to further their advancement and education through the use of vocational qualifications. Major networking and software companies, such as Microsoft and Cisco, run their own courses for networking professionals. Employees with these networking certificates are highly sought after because of the complexity and focus of the program. After passing a course and an exam to gain the certificate it is also necessary to re-take the exam on a regular basis to maintain certification. Because of the nature of vocational certificates, the education received is based around the latest advances and the most recent technologies. This ensures that the networking professional is always up to date. A network certification is a highly desirable trait in a potential employee.

It really is very difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy, which educational route is best for any one individual. This is partially because employers themselves differ so greatly in their requirements. Some prefer candidates with a degree, while others prefer candidates with a specific networking certificate. A networking degree, though, stands out above all other options because of the dedication required and the knowledge offered by the four-year course. The best thing for potential networking candidates to do is to look through the prospectuses offered by the numerous computer networking schools at which courses are being offered.

View a list of schools in California offering computer networking >>