Computer networking is a fast-growing field that represents a good choice of career for people with an interest in computer science and information technology.
As our lives become increasingly connected to technology, people with computer networking degrees should be in higher and higher demand by organizations that seek to tap into humanity’s interest in being constantly connected.
Fortunately, there is a great breadth and depth of career possibilities for someone with the appropriate degree. Below, we list the different types of computer networking degrees you can pursue. We also reveal more than a dozen popular careers you can get with a computer networking degree. Let’s get started!
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Types of Computer Networking Degrees
- Popular Careers With a Computer Networking Degree
- Network Systems Administrator
- Information Systems Manager
- Computer Network Architect
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Computer Network Support Specialist
- Computer Networking Instructor
- Computer Programmer
- Computer Engineer
- Database Administrator
- Computer Operations Researcher
- Computer Repair Specialist
- Systems Analyst
Types of Computer Networking Degrees
There are two highly common types of computer networking degrees: an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. Further, there are advanced degree options you might pursue in the form of a master’s degree or a doctorate.
An associate’s degree is a two-year degree that usually serves as a gateway to entry-level jobs. An associate’s degree is essentially an introduction to the specialty of computer networking. Courses at this level are basic, and are mixed with a variety of core classes that are required for graduation, such as math, science, and humanities.
Going a step further, bachelor’s degrees are four-year degrees that expand the study of computer networking. Most bachelor degree programs require around 120 semester credits to graduate, of which about half are for the computer networking major. As a result, a bachelor’s degree offers you the opportunity for much more in-depth learning about computer networking.
Most careers in computer networking don’t require an advanced degree, but it remains an option if you choose.
A master’s degree in computer networking requires two to three years of additional work after the completion of the bachelor’s degree. Graduate-level courses are far more specific and detailed than those at the bachelor’s level. For instance, in a master’s degree program in computer networking, you might take courses on computer development, information technology management, and computer engineering.
Usually, if someone pursues a master’s degree in computer networking, it’s because they want to move into another, more specialized career or advance into a supervisory or management role.
The highest degree available in computer networking is a Ph.D., or doctorate. A doctorate requires high-level, mostly independent study of computer networking topics. Rather than taking typical classroom-based courses, you’ll spend much of your Ph.D. studies conducting independent research. As such, most people that get a Ph.D. in this field do so to prepare themselves for positions in the research or education sectors.
Popular Careers With a Computer Networking Degree
As mentioned above, a degree in computer networking can open many doors for employment. The type of degree you earn, as well as your experience and skill set, will determine whether or not you’re deemed qualified for these positions.
Below, you’ll find a brief explanation of each career, including basic responsibilities, educational requirements, and salary information.
Network Systems Administrator
A network systems administrator is responsible for the smooth operation of computer networks, such as Local Area Networks (LANs), Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs), and intranets. Usually, these workers install these networks for businesses and other organizations and ensure the network meets the organization’s standards. Likewise, network systems administrators develop and organize computer systems and provide technical support to users.
In most cases, you only need an associate’s degree to be a network systems administrator. The most common types of associate’s degrees for this career are in computer science and information technology, though you might be able to find employment with a related associate’s degree and computer networking experience.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer systems administrators make an average annual salary of $83,510. Note that this is the average salary. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you might earn even more, perhaps closer toward the top of the pay scale, which is well into the six-figure range at $132,520 per year.
Information Systems Manager
Where a network systems administrator oversees the operation of networks, an information systems manager does so for all technology within an organization.
For example, an information systems manager in a K-12 school district would determine what computer hardware and software are needed to accomplish the district’s goals. Furthermore, they would manage the installation and maintenance of hardware and software, test security measures, and perhaps even train an organization’s employees in how to use new technologies.
By and large, information systems managers have a bachelor’s degree in information technology or computer science, in addition to having several years of experience. In some cases, an organization might require you to have a master’s degree, though this is less common.
As far as computer science jobs go, this is one that is among the highest paying. The average yearly salary for information systems managers is $146,360, according to the BLS. Individuals with higher levels of education and more work experience could make well over $200,000 per year.
Computer Network Architect
Before a network systems administrator can install a network, a computer network architect must design and build the network. The process of designing a network includes devising plans and layouts for networks, addressing security concerns, and providing plans to members of an organization’s management team for approval.
Most computer network architects have a bachelor’s degree plus three to five years of work experience. You’ll often find that job listings for this career also ask for applicants to have relevant certifications as well.
According to the BLS, the average yearly salary for computer network architects is $112,690. Entry-level positions for workers fresh out of college pay closer to $64,770 per year while those with extensive experience can earn in excess of $168,390 per year.
Computer Systems Analyst
The primary job of a computer systems analyst is to help organizations maximize the effectiveness of their technology. This includes making existing technologies more efficient and incorporating new technologies into an organization’s system. Many computer systems analysts also test and diagnose problems in computer systems as part of quality assurance protocols.
Positions as a computer systems analyst are usually reserved for applicants with a bachelor’s degree. There are any number of bachelor’s degrees that might qualify you for this position, including those in computer information systems, computer systems analysis, and computer science, to name a few.
With a bachelor’s degree and a few years of experience, you might expect to earn around $69,172 per year, which is the average annual earnings for workers in this position according to PayScale. New graduates with no experience will likely earn less, which can begin in the $46,000 per year range. As you accumulate experience, pay might increase to over $100,000 per year.
Computer Network Support Specialist
This computer networking career involves testing, troubleshooting, and analyzing network systems. Computer network support specialists work with all kinds of networks, including intranets, local area networks (LANs), and wide area networks (WANs). These specialists spend a lot of time maintaining networks to ensure their proper function.
This networking career has a lower educational threshold than others. Many job listings require an associate’s degree, and some can even be had with postsecondary training. However, some computer network support specialist positions require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. This is less common, though.
According to the BLS, computer network support specialists earn an average annual wage of $63,460. However, the pay range is quite broad. Earners in the lowest ten percent of pay make an average of $38,990 per year. Earners in the top ten percent make an average of $106,420.
Computer Networking Instructor
Computer networking instructors are responsible for teaching and training students to pursue various computer networking degrees and careers. In addition to preparing lessons, grading assignments, and meeting with students, computer networking instructors must be content experts. While many computer networking instructors have an area of specialization, they must also have very broad knowledge and skills in order to be an effective teacher.
Though some computer networking teaching jobs require a bachelor’s degree, many others require teachers to have a master’s degree or even a doctorate. On the other hand, computer networking professionals that have less education (i.e., an associate’s degree) but have years of experience on the job might be able to become a computer networking instructor. It simply depends on the educational institution.
The average yearly salary for a computer instructor is about $63,000 according to PayScale. As with the other jobs on this list, teachers with less experience will earn less money – around $43,000 for new instructors. More experienced teachers can earn upwards of $82,000 per year.
Computer programmers are tasked with writing code for software. This job involves various steps, including writing the code, testing it, developing documentation for the program, and troubleshooting issues with the code. Coding can be for all manner of things, from apps to gaming to productivity software. A solid knowledge of C++, Java, Python, and other programming languages is a must.
To land a job as a computer programmer, you’ll likely need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a closely related field, like computer engineering. If you have a lot of job experience in computer programming, but lack a bachelor’s degree, some employers might be willing to relax the educational requirements for the position.
Computer programmers can make a very good living. The BLS notes that the average yearly salary for computer programmers is $86,550. However, there is potential to earn far more. The top ten percent of computer programmers make more than $140,000 per year. Starting positions offer far less compensation, though. For an entry-level job, you might earn around $50,000 per year.
As a computer engineer, you’re responsible for designing both computer software and hardware. Once it’s designed, software and hardware must be tested and maintained to ensure proper performance. This is a career that has many specialization options, including artificial intelligence, mobile apps, robotics, and operating systems. Likewise, computer engineers work in many different sectors, from research to aviation to medicine.
Computer engineer positions almost always require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. The specific degree can vary. Common specializations include computer science, computer engineering, and computer information systems, among others.
The average annual salary for computer engineers is $85,195, according to Salary.com. New computer engineers can expect to make less, around $75,801 per year. However, with more experience, you can earn in excess of $94,500 per year.
A database administrator maintains databases to ensure their performance and security. Additionally, database administrators are in charge of making sure that people within the organization can easily access files, but that unapproved users do not have access.
This career requires a bachelor’s degree, usually in information technology or computer science. It’s important to note that a bachelor’s degree is usually enough for an entry-level position. If you want to further your career, it’s a good idea to pursue a master’s degree.
As reported by PayScale, database administrators make just under $73,400 per year, on average. The pay range is quite wide, though. Entry-level positions might come with a salary of around $47,000 per year. However, experienced database administrators can earn well over $100,000 per year.
Webmasters design and develop websites for their employers. In this regard, they have knowledge and training for both front-end and back-end development, as well as SEO and internet marketing. Additionally, webmasters strive to make sure the websites they create are easy to use, visually appealing, functional, and secure.
Some webmasters start their own businesses without a formal degree. Instead, they rely on self-education and certifications to demonstrate to potential clients that they have the knowledge and skills to get the job done. Other webmasters, like those that work for large businesses, might need to have formal credentials, like an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in web design, web development, or a closely related field. Furthermore, some employers require webmaster applicants to have three to five years of on-the-job experience.
According to PayScale, the average yearly salary for a webmaster is $55,017. However, webmasters in entry-level positions are more likely to earn a lower wage, typically around $39,000 per year, on average. More experienced web designers can expect a far higher salary. In fact, the top 10 percent of earners make in excess of $82,000 per year.
Computer Operations Researcher
Computer operations researchers perform the all-important job of using computers and computer systems to solve complex problems. Usually, these workers are contracted by large corporations to analyze business practices and develop possible solutions to critical issues, such as how to be more cost-effective or how to improve product distribution.
Like so many jobs in the computer networking sector, this one requires you to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a relevant field. For greater job opportunities, a master’s degree is recommended. It’s important to note that there aren’t many undergraduate or graduate programs in computer operations research. This means you’ll likely need to major in a related field and gain experience through on-the-job training.
As reported by the BLS, operations research analysts make an average of $84,810 per year, which makes this a highly lucrative career. With less experience, computer operations researchers can expect to earn closer to $48,670. With more experience, however, this job can pay more than $140,000 per year.
Computer Repair Specialist
As the job title states, computer repair specialists are trained to fix computers and related technologies, like hard drives and computer monitors. These workers assess the problem, identify potential repairs, make the needed fixes, and maintain computers in good working order.
Some computer repair specialist positions require nothing more than a high school diploma and a demonstrated interest in learning on the job. Other positions have more stringent requirements, such as having a specialized degree, like an associate’s degree in computer hardware repair. Any number of diploma programs, certifications, and other postsecondary options can fulfill the educational requirements of many computer repair specialist jobs as well.
As noted by Salary.com, computer repair specialists earn an average of $60,250 per year. There is a wide variation in yearly earnings, though. The lowest ten percent of earners make an average of $42,464 per year while the top ten percent of earners make $82,488 on average each year.
A systems analyst uses various technologies to resolve network issues caused by hardware and software problems, server-side issues, and network malfunctions. This career also involves deploying new software, maintaining existing computer networks, and devising disaster recovery protocols in the event of a network failure.
To qualify for many systems analyst positions, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. Common degrees for workers in this area include computer information systems, management information systems, computer systems analysis, and computer science.
On average, systems analysts make $66,147 per year, according to PayScale. The pay range for this position extends from around $47,000 per year for new workers to more than $95,000 per year for more experienced workers.
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