Becoming a Data Communications Analyst: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
Learn about a data communications analyst's job description, salary info and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of becoming a data communications analyst.
View available schools

Data Communications Analyst Career: Pros and Cons

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies data communications analysts in the category of computer systems analysts. Check out the pros and cons of a data communications analyst career to decide if it's right for you.

Pros of Being a Data Communications Analyst
High earning potential ($82,710 median salary, May 2014)**
Very high job growth (about 21% expected during 2014-2024)**
Can work in many industries (education, healthcare, government, etc.)*
May not need a college degree; education requirements vary from high school diplomas to bachelor's degrees***

Cons of Being a Data Communications Analyst
Employers usually require many years of work experience***
Requires extensive technical knowledge***
No variety in daily tasks***
Complex tasks require excellent reasoning skills and attention to detail***

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ***CareerBuilder.com Job Postings (Feb 2015).

Career Information

Job Description

Data communications analysts work for a variety of organizations that rely on computer network systems to operate, such as hospitals, insurance companies, government agencies and schools. Network systems allow data to be shared among multiple computers and include wide area networks (WAN), local area networks (LAN) and intranet. As an analyst, you evaluate the needs of an organization, design a network system and oversee the installation of routers, network drivers, cables and adapters. These analysts also test and analyze a company's existing network system to see if all its components are operating efficiently. If any problems are identified, analysts recommend software or hardware that will increase performance and improve network security.

Salary Info and Job Growth

According to the BLS, as of May 2014, the mean annual wage for data communications analysts was $87,320. Annual salaries vary depending on several factors, including work setting. For example, analysts working for in mining and securities and commodity exchanges have the potential to earn more than those working in the oil and gas or IT industries. The BLS expects job opportunities for data communications analysts to increase 21% during 2014-2024.

What Are the Requirements?

There are no standard education requirements for data communications analysts, but the BLS states that analysts with 4-year bachelor's degrees are usually qualified for the majority of positions. Most employers require or give preference to analysts with bachelor's degrees in information science, computer science and management information systems. The curriculum of these degree programs may include advanced courses in areas like network security, database management, wireless networking and programming. Although degree requirements may vary among employers, all require work experience using specific computer applications.

Useful Skills

Data communications analysts need to use specialized knowledge and a range of analytical and technical skills to complete daily job tasks. Based on job postings found in June 2012 on CareerBuilder.com, qualifications to be a data communications analyst include:

  • Experience using different operating systems (Windows, Linux, Solaris, etc.)
  • An ability to work independently
  • Knowledge of Microsoft LAN
  • Experience using Integrated Computer-Aided Software Engineering tools
  • Strong oral and written communication skills

Job Postings from Real Employers

Because data communications analysts can find jobs in any industry that uses computers, the main requirement for getting a data communications analyst job is to have the required experience and skills. Below are a few examples of jobs postings for data communications analysts found in June 2012:

  • A community college in Tallahassee, FL, sought a data communications analysts with at least eight years of experience working as LAN administrators. Although only a high school diploma was required, preference would be given to applicants with bachelor's degrees in fields such as computer science and information studies. Other qualifications included having knowledge of different operating systems, technical terminology and email systems.
  • A New Orleans, LA, company wanted a candidate with a bachelor's degree and experience working with LAN and network architecture. The job required that candidates be able to to work independently and as part of a team in a high-pressure setting. The employer preferred applicants with Cisco Certified Network Professional certification and knowledge of government network operations.
  • A banking company in Kentucky was looking for candidates with excellent customer service, communication and analytical skills. Applicants must have had experience working with Cisco routers and structured cabling systems.

How to Beat the Competition

Professional certifications are not typically required by employers, but can give applicants a competitive advantage and allow them to show their expertise in specific areas of technology. Software developing companies often offer certifications to individuals who demonstrate a high level of competence using their products. For example, Cisco awards the Cisco Certified Network Professional credential to those with knowledge of wireless networks, network security and WAN.

Since data communications analysts need experience using different operating systems, you might consider earning certifications from Microsoft and Red Hat because, by having them, you demonstrate your knowledge of Windows and Linux systems. These certifications can help you land jobs and receive a higher salary.

Other Careers to Consider

Computer and Information Systems Manager

If you love working with computers, but a data communications analyst career doesn't sound right for you, you might consider working as a computer and information systems manager. In this career your duties may include recommending computer updates, overseeing software installation, ensuring that a network is secure and supervising other IT staff members. While a bachelor's degree is the most common education requirement for this career, some employers may require a master's degree in business administration. According to the BLS, in 2011 the median annual salary for computer and information systems was around $118,000. The agency expects job positions to grow by 18% during 2010-2020.

Computer Systems Analyst

You might also consider working as a computer systems analyst. Computer systems analysts work to improve an organization's operations by improving its computer systems. However, unlike data communications analysts, these analysts work to improve the entire computer system, instead of concentrating solely on the network. Computer systems analysis is a high-growth field, and the BLS projects a 22% increase in jobs during 2010-2020. Although bachelor's degrees are typically required to work in the field, computer systems analysts earn relatively high median annual salaries of approximately $79,000.

Computer Support Specialist

If you want a job that offers on-the-job training and doesn't require years of experience, consider working as a computer support specialist. These specialists provide support for computer-related problems to people and businesses. Entry-level positions, such as those at call-centers and help desks, can be obtained with certificates or associate's degree, but more advanced positions usually require bachelor's degrees. The BLS reports the 2011 median annual salary for computer support specialists was around $48,000.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Strayer University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. in Information Systems: Computer Forensics Management
      • Master of Science in Information Assurance
      • M.S. in Information Systems: IT Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Information Technology: Networking Technology
      • B.S. in Information Technology: Internetworking Technology
      • B.S. in Information Technology: Enterprise Security Technology
      • B.S. in Information Systems: Cyber Security Management
      • B.S. in Information Systems: IT Project Management
      • B.S. in Information Systems: Computer Forensics Management
    Associate's
      • Associate in Arts in Information Technology
      • Associate in Arts in Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
      • MS in Cybersecurity Management
    Bachelor's
      • BSIT: Network Admin
      • BS in IT in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
    Associate's
      • AASIT: Network Admin
      • Associate: Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    3. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Network Security
      • Bachelor's - Cloud Computing
    Associate's
      • Associate's - Network Security
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
  • Campus Locations:
    5. Lincoln Tech

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Technology and Skilled Trades
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS Information Technology: Internet Security Concentration
      • MS in Cyber Security with a concentration in IT management
      • MS in Information Technology with a concentration in software application development
      • MS Information Technology
      • MS in Cyber Security
      • MS Information Technology: Web Design Concentration
    Bachelor's
      • BS Computer Science
      • BS Business Studies in Computer Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Science Information Technologies - Des
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies - Robot
      • BS in Accounting - Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination
      • BS Management Information Systems - IT Mgmt
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Capella University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • PhD: IT Management (ACBSP-accredited)
      • PhD: IT Project Management
      • PhD - Information Technology
      • DIT - Information Assurance and Security
    Master's
      • MS - Network Defense
      • MS in Network Management
      • MS - Health Care Security
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Network Technology (ABET-accredited)
      • BS in Network Technology: Microsoft
      • BS - Information Technology (ABET-accredited)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Public Safety Leadership and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Human Resources and Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology Admin and Management With No Declared Minor or Concentration
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Technology Studies
      • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
    Certificate
      • Networking Systems Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA/Sports and Recreation Management - Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctorate: Computer Science
      • Doctorate - Computer Science: Information Assurance (Executive Format)
      • Doctor of Management - Technology Management (Executive Format)
    Master's
      • M.S. - Information Technology - Network Management
      • Master of Science in Computer Science - Computer Systems Security
      • M.S. - Information Technology
      • Master of Science in Computer Science
      • Master of Science in Management - Information Systems Security
      • M.S. - Management: IT and Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security - Computer Systems Security
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology - Network Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - IT
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology - Security
      • Bachelor: Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security - Information Assurance

Featured Schools

Strayer University

  • M.S. in Information Systems: Computer Forensics Management
  • B.S. in Information Technology: Networking Technology
  • Associate in Arts in Information Technology

What is your highest level of education completed?

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • BSIT: Network Admin
  • AASIT: Network Admin

Which subject are you interested in?

ECPI University

  • Bachelor's - Network Security
  • Bachelor's - Cloud Computing
  • Associate's - Network Security

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)

What is your highest level of education?

Lincoln Tech

  • Technology and Skilled Trades

What year did you graduate High School / Receive GED?

Southern New Hampshire University

  • MS Information Technology: Internet Security Concentration
  • MS in Cyber Security with a concentration in IT management
  • BS Computer Science
  • BS Business Studies in Computer Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Capella University

  • PhD: IT Management (ACBSP-accredited)
  • MS - Network Defense
  • BS in Network Technology (ABET-accredited)

What is your highest level of education completed?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Public Safety Leadership and Technology Management
  • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Technology Studies
  • Networking Systems Certificate

What is your highest level of education?