Computer networking, and IT in general, is a fast-growing field. In addition to having excellent upside in terms of job availability, computer networking jobs also tend to pay very well.
But some computer networking jobs have higher salaries than others.
Which are the highest paying jobs in computer networking? Which careers have the highest salary ceiling? Let’s find out!
Summary of 10 Highest Paying Jobs in Computer Networking:
- Network Architect
- Network Security Manager
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators
- Wireless Network Engineer
- System Engineer
- Database Administrator
- Network Programmer
- Network Service Technician
- Network Security Administrator
- Telecommunications Specialist
What Influences Salary?
Before we explore the list of the highest paying jobs in computer networking, it’s important to mention a few factors that can impact one’s salary.
For starters, the income figures presented below are averages. This means that there is a wide range of salaries reported for each career. In fact, the salary range for each career can vary as well. This range is often tens of thousands of dollars. So, while the average salary we report might be quite high, this does not guarantee that this is the salary you would make in a given position.
That’s because salary is affected by many factors. Naturally, the more education, training, and skills you have, the higher the salary you can command. Likewise, the more experience you have in a computer networking position, the higher the compensation will be. More specifically, as you gain specialized skills in computer networking, you can often get jobs that pay more per year.
As an example, if you’re a network administrator and you have the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certificate, you might find that companies offer you more money because of your added expertise.
Additionally, where you work – both in terms of geography and the particular employer you have – can influence your earnings. For example, computer networking professionals that work for small businesses tend to make less money than those who work for large businesses. Similarly, if you work in a rural area you will likely earn less than a colleague that works in an urban area.
Of course, you have to bear in mind the cost of living in the area in which you work. For example, while a wireless network engineer in Los Angeles might make far more money each year than one in Des Moines, the cost of living in Los Angeles is far greater. So, at the end of the day, the wireless network engineer in Des Moines might have more disposable income due to the fact that living in Iowa is much cheaper.
Just keep these things in mind as you explore this list of high-paying computer networking jobs.
1. Network Architect – $112,690
Network architects are among the best-compensated workers in the networking industry. They design and build networks, including Wide Area Networks (WANs), Local Area Networks (LANs), and intranets. They also manage existing networks, analyze their performance, and devise solutions for improved networking. Since more and more businesses are relying on cloud-based infrastructure, network architects should be in demand for years and years to come.
Typically, network architects need to have a bachelor’s degree and between three to five years of relevant work experience. This is also a career that usually requires you to have one – if not more – certifications. If nothing else, being certified will make you more competitive in your job hunt, and could help you stand out from the rest of the pool or applicants.
Network architects have an important job, and they are often compensated well for their work. The BLS notes that network architects make an average annual wage of $112,690. The pay range extends from a low of about $64,770 while the highest wages for network architects approaches nearly $170,000. That is an incredible salary for the education level that is typically required.
2. Network Security Manager – $96,352
Since networks are prime targets of hackers, network security managers strive to ensure the network is as secure as possible. In addition to monitoring threats from hackers, network security managers handle more mundane tasks, like troubleshooting problems with the network and issuing credentials to workers that need to access the network.
In most cases, network security managers need a postsecondary certificate to qualify for the position. Adding an internship will increase your chances of securing a position. However, most employers prefer to hire bachelor’s-level workers for this job. If you wish to advance your career, a master’s degree is all but a must.
The average annual salary for a network security manager is nearly six figures at $96,352, according to PayScale. Depending on the factors listed earlier, the pay for this career could be anywhere in the range of $60,000 up to $120,000 per year.
3. Network and Computer Systems Administrators – $83,510
Network and computer systems administrators have the important task of handling the day-to-day operations of computer networks. This includes installing networks, organizing computer systems within an organization, and providing support to people that need to utilize the network.
Like network architects, network and computer systems administrators help create and maintain LANs, WANS, and intranets, as well as network segments and other data communication networks.
By and large, network and computer systems administrators have an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. Some organizations might require their network and computer systems administrators to have a bachelor’s degree. Either way, this job is one that has a fairly low educational threshold, meaning you can enter the workforce after two years or less of studies.
The BLS reports that the average annual salary for network and computer systems administrators is $83,510. However, depending on your level of training and experience, it is reasonable to expect a salary anywhere from a low of $52,370 to a high of $132,520.
4. Wireless Network Engineer – $81,234
As the job title indicates, wireless network engineers are responsible for designing and implementing wireless networks. This includes designing Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs), installing hardware, and utilizing the appropriate wireless protocols for WLAN design.
In most situations, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to procure a job as a wireless network engineer. Usually, workers in this field have a degree in engineering or computer science, though a combination of a degree in a related field (such as information systems) and relevant work experience might be enough to land a job. You’ll need three to five years of experience in wireless networking as well.
According to PayScale, wireless network engineers earn an average yearly salary of $81,234. The pay range for this job is very wide, though. The lowest ten percent of earners can expect to make around $57,000 per year. However, the highest ten percent of earners can make upwards of $143,000 per year.
If this career interests you, it is strongly recommended that you pursue the Certified Wireless Network Professional designation. This certification is well regarded and could help you get a job with a higher salary.
5. System Engineer – $79,642
A system engineer is responsible for managing the network-related systems of an organization. Part of this job requires engineers to develop new and more efficient systems. Other tasks include inspecting software, performing standard testing, reviewing security measures, and analyzing current systems for efficiency and reliability.
Like most of the other jobs on this list, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to qualify for most system engineer job listings. Additionally, you’ll need two to three years of relevant on-the-job experience.
If you want a leg up on the competition, you’ll want to have some specific skills under your belt. This includes a deep understanding of scripting, cloud computing services, UNIX, Linux, and automation software, just to name a few.
The average yearly salary for a system engineer in the U.S. is $79,642, according to PayScale. Entry-level positions for workers with less education and experience usually pay less, around $58,000 per year. On the other hand, more experienced and more highly educated system engineers earn well over $100,000 per year, at around $122,000.
6. Database Administrator – $73,394
A database administrator’s job includes many different tasks. Their first priority is to maintain databases for businesses and organizations. This includes ensuring that databases perform as they should and that they are secure from outside threats. Likewise, database administrators ensure that the data in the databases is readily available to approved users on the network.
Database administrators need an undergraduate degree in either computer science or information technology. Typically, such a degree qualifies you for an entry-level position. To advance your career, you’ll likely need a master’s degree.
The average annual salary for a database administrator is $73,394, according to PayScale. Depending on education and experience, you might earn anywhere from $47,000 to $111,000 per year.
7. Network Programmer – $72,111
A network programmer bridges the gap between networking and coding because they’re responsible for doing both.
Essentially, a network programmer creates networks in addition to coding server functions. They also write scripts for tasks such as utility monitoring and network diagnostics. Additionally, network programmers are usually responsible for configuring APIs and integrating technologies into the network as new technologies are developed.
Most network programmers have a bachelor’s degree. However, some positions might be available to applicants that have an associate’s degree and/or a combination of work experience and a postsecondary certificate. You’ll need between one to three years of programming experience and proficiency in a number of areas, including network protocols, mathematics, C programming, and C++.
According to Salary.com, the average annual wage for a network programmer is $72,111. The pay range extends from a low of $56,935 to a high of $93,687. The vast majority of network programmers will make somewhere in the middle, between $64,167 and $83,405.
8. Network Service Technician – $68,660
Network service technicians are responsible for designing computer networks and installing their components. In that process, they troubleshoot network failures and also work to find bottlenecks that slow down network performance. As such, much of this job involves testing software, maintaining hardware, and ensuring peripheral devices are running as they should.
Typically, network service technicians are required to have a bachelor’s degree, though this is not a hard-and-fast rule. In some situations, you could find employment with an associate’s degree or postsecondary training.
Pay for this position averages out at $68,660 per year. The lowest ten percent of earners make around $51,426 per year while the top ten percent of earners make $90,304 per year.
9. Network Security Administrator – $68,303
A network security administrator is usually required to have at least an associate’s degree (though a bachelor’s degree is often preferred) and is responsible for installing network security protocols. Additionally, network security administrators troubleshoot security issues as they arise and perform daily administrative tasks with regard to an organization’s network.
Part of this job also includes updating software for employees, conducting vulnerability tests, and analyzing ever-changing security requirements so they can make recommendations for defending against evolving cyberthreats.
The most common educational level for network security administrators is a bachelor’s degree. However, like with many of the careers on this list, you might be able to find a position that will accept a postsecondary certificate or associate’s degree plus relevant experience.
Since computer network security is such a complex task, there are many other job duties associated with this position. Therefore, the pay range for network security administrators is quite wide.
The average salary you can expect to earn in this position according to PayScale is $68,303. But, the pay range extends from a low-average of $41,000 per year to a high-average of $98,000 annually.
10. Telecommunications Specialist – $64,509
As a telecommunications specialist, you’ll be responsible for programming voice and data services to work on an organization’s network. This includes establishing voice and data interfaces, developing tools that enable remote access, and verifying that services work properly. These workers also program and reprogram circuits and equipment as needed.
To pursue a career as a telecommunications specialist, you’d be well-served to get an associate’s degree. It’s important to note that a degree is not always required. A combination of training and experience could help you secure a position.
This job pays very well considering the low education threshold. The average salary is $64,509, with a range of salaries that extend from a low of $40,000 to a high of $96,000.
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