Networking professionals perform some critically important tasks, including designing and building networks, configuring equipment, troubleshooting network issues, monitoring data and communications security, and overseeing network management. If you choose to pursue computer networking training, you'll most likely specialize in one of these areas, or in a related area such as network systems analysis, network administration, systems testing or network programming.
What You'll Learn in Your Program
Specialty coursework in the networking field will vary depending on your chosen focus—network security or network administration, for instance—but most computer networking professionals pursue a degree in computer science or information systems.
Basic curriculum typically includes classes and laboratory assignments in computer science, programming, mathematics, statistics and engineering, in addition to training that specifically addresses networking or systems design. Those who major in management information systems (MIS) may also be required to take courses in finance, business and network management.
Depending on where you'd like to start your career—as a network support specialist, a network administrator or in network management—you'll want to target an appropriate degree program for your computer networking training:
- Associate's Degree: An associate's degree in computer science or networking technology generally takes about two years to complete. It prepares you for entry-level work in network support, network administration or as a webmaster.
- Bachelor's Degree: A bachelor's degree in a computer-related field is the standard requirement for most networking positions, including network architect, systems analyst and network security specialist. It usually takes four years and includes advanced computer networking training.
- Master's Degree: Those with an interest in network management may benefit from the business and MIS training provided by a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) in information systems, or a Master of Information Systems Management (MISM).
Computer Networking Certifications
Colleges, technical schools, computer associations and even product vendors offer specialty certifications in networking technologies such as Cisco, Microsoft and Novell. Most certification programs consist of highly specialized coursework or independent study followed by an examination. Typical networking certifications include Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE).
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics