Network Specialist: Job Description & Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

Computer networking specialists design, monitor, maintain and fix computer system networks of all sizes. These professionals' job duties may vary significantly, but they generally need broad and extensive knowledge of networking, computer systems, and periphery systems.

Computer Network Specialist Job Description

A computer network specialist job description (also commonly referred to as a network specialist job description) includes the following duties:

  • Test and evaluate existing network systems
  • Perform regular maintenance to ensure that networks operate correctly
  • Troubleshoot local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and internet systems

Computer network specialists install, inspect, secure, and troubleshoot networked computers within an organization. They might operate a help desk, set up or repair computer equipment and related devices, or monitor for internal and external threats. Becoming a computer network specialist typically requires extensive knowledge of network management.

The table below provides information for a network and computer systems administrator.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Certification options available
 Median Salary (2019)   $83,510 (for all network and computer systems administrators)*
 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)   4% growth (for all network and computer systems administrators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Just what is a computer networking job? Computer networking jobs have primary duties that include maintaining the integrity and security of a company's network and its systems. Computer networking jobs require extensive knowledge of network connectivity, protocols, network security devices, network types (including wireless, fiber optic, or Cat5), and standard operating systems, such as Windows and UNIX.

Types of networking jobs include:

  • Computer support specialists
  • Computer network architects
  • Information security analysts
  • Network and computer systems administrators

Networking job requirements can be extensive enough to cover layout, troubleshooting, and system design. Computer networking job requirements extend into various software languages that must be understood to optimize a user's network environment fully. An IT network specialist job description can include the multiple disciplines listed and is most often determined by the organization that employs the specialist.

A Cisco network specialist job description can include multiple levels of Cisco systems knowledge. Training provides for pathways to six different certification paths. A computer networking job description typically refers to one's understanding of networks and the certification path chosen. A computer networking description can be varied, but most organizations would choose a best-practices solution such as the Cisco Validated Design Guide (CVD).

CIS (Center for Internet Security) teaches cybersecurity best practices, tools, and threats. A CIS networking specialist would need to understand and demonstrate knowledge and implementation of the developed standards.

In an entry-level capacity, computer network specialists could respond to troubleshooting calls and e-mails from users of the network. They'll need to be able to diagnose and offer repair instructions remotely, as well as in person. In an advanced role as an analyst or administrator, computer network specialists often monitor network access for bottlenecks, security threats, or connectivity problems. They might also configure and maintain security devices to ensure company software, systems, and data safety.

Computer Network Specialist Requirements

Educational Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), networking specialists usually need some college training, and a bachelor's degree is often preferred for the profession. Several universities offer relevant majors, such as computer science, network technology, software engineering, or information security. These programs teach basic and advanced topics in networking fundamentals, and students can often take elective coursework to specialize in a specific area, such as security, network design, or programming.

Other Required Skills

Computer networking specialists must have excellent communication skills. They work with internal and external clients, vendors, and other information technology professionals, requiring communication in both technical and non-technical language. Working in an individual and group capacity could also be required. A computer networking specialist might need to lift and transport heavy computer equipment, travel, or install networking cables or devices.

Computer Network Specialist Certifications

Several organizations and technology vendors offer professional certification that can be as helpful as a college education. Those wishing to demonstrate a general knowledge of networking could earn CompTIA's Network+ or Security+ credentials. Additionally, professionals working with specific networking hardware or software could prove the expertise of a particular vendor's technologies by earning entry- and advanced-level certifications, such as Microsoft's Certified Technology Specialist or Cisco's Certified Network Professional. Cisco has several certification and training programs available. These are listed as Entry, Specialist, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect. Under each of these headings, there is a specific list of certifications.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

There is considerable variability in education requirements and median salaries depending on the position. In some cases, a computer support specialist may need only an associate's degree.

The two leading fields in median pay and job growth are information security analysts at a median annual salary of $99,730 and 31% projected job growth, and computer network architect at a median annual salary of $112,690 and 5% projected job growth. A computer network architect is expected to have five or more years of experience in a computer-related field or systems and network administration.

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