Certified Wireless Network Administrator Careers: Job Description & Salary

About this article
What are the pros and cons of a Certified Wireless Network Administrator career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a Certified Wireless Network Administrator is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Certified Wireless Network Administrator Career

A Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) helps to install, configure and administer wireless local area network (LAN) hardware peripherals and protocols, as well as do any necessary troubleshooting and repairs. View the following pros and cons to make sure a career as a Certified Wireless Network Administrator is for you:

Pros of a Certified Wireless Network Administrator Career
High wages (mean salary of $80,096 as of 2014)**
As-fast-as average job growth expected (12% growth through 2012-2022 decade)*
Opportunities to work in various industries (banking, education, healthcare, government, manufacturing)*
Variety of job tasks (designing networks, troubleshooting, securing systems)*

Cons of a Certified Wireless Network Administrator Career
Additional training is often required (bachelor's degree, work experience, other certifications in networking may be needed)***
Can require overtime when dealing with wireless connectivity issues*
May require travel inside and outside of state***
Ongoing learning needed to keep industry skills up to date*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Global Knowledge, ***Careerbuilder.com.

Career Information

Job Description

Certified Wireless Network Administrators plan, design, implement and monitor wireless networks. When creating new networks or modifying existing ones, they help determine how many access points and switches will be needed, where equipment should be placed and how equipment can be best secured. They may also be asked to assist in surveying sites, gathering and assessing customer needs and helping to make recommendations for changes and upgrades. When the network is not performing optimally, they do troubleshooting to find ways to repair issues or optimize the network for better performance.

Travel is sometimes needed to work on projects and do repairs, which may also result in long hours that fall outside the traditional workday. Although dealing with wireless networking is a primary responsibility, CWNAs may also address technical issues with computers and telephony devices.

Job Prospects and Salary

As wireless technology continues to expand and evolve, skilled support professionals should see a strong job market, especially for those trained in the latest skills and technologies. According to 2012-2022 estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for network administrators will grow by 12%, which is roughly as fast as the national average. Individuals with computer science bachelor's degrees should see improved career prospects. Network administrators are mostly employed in the computer systems design industry. The BLS reported in May 2014 that network and computer systems administrators earned a mean annual salary of $79,770. Areas with the highest levels of employment in the field include California, Virginia, Texas, New York, Virginia, and Florida.

According to the Global Knowledge/ Windows IT Pro 2014 IT Skills and Salary Report, professionals who specialized in network management earned an average of $80,096 per year, while the median salary for that sector was $78,000.

What Are the Requirements?

Earning the CWNA title only requires passing the certification exam offered by Certified Wireless Networking Professional (CWNP), a vendor neutral certification enterprise. You could take a training course or use study guides to learn the exam's concepts, which include wireless security, wireless hardware and software, troubleshooting, network design and wireless technologies. In addition to the certification, you will usually need a bachelor's degree and significant experience to find employment. Possible majors include electrical engineering and computer science. It is possible that an employer may not require the degree if you have several years of experience in wireless communications.

CWNAs need to have strong problem-solving skills to troubleshoot network problems, be effective leaders to direct teams and be able to communicate effectively. Designing a wireless network requires strong analytical skills and creativity.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Education, experience and certification are what employers look for when hiring CWNAs. Some companies prefer candidates with project management expertise and other industry certifications, particularly those in networking, computer repair and security. The following are some open job postings asking for CWNAs as of April 2012:

  • A technology staffing company headquartered in Tampa is looking for a wireless network engineer with at least five years of experience in telecommunication plus a bachelor's degree in computer science or electrical engineering. The candidate should be experienced in wireless technologies, security and wireless applications. Preferred candidates should have the CWNA designation, project management knowledge, VoIP experience and various Cisco networking certifications, including the CCIE, CCNA-Wireless and CCNP.
  • A staffing company in Virginia advertised for a wireless solutions network engineer with the CWNA, Network+, A+ and CCNA certifications. The candidate should have at least five years of wireless industry experience and should be experienced with physical cabling, wireless access points and desktop support.
  • An IT and management consulting firm in Virginia is seeking a senior network engineer with five years of networking experience. Candidates with CWNA, CCNA and Security+ certifications are preferred. The candidate should know how to install wireless access points, secure networks and manage network performance.
  • A drug store in Illinois is looking for a wireless network engineer with a combination of education and wireless network engineering experience. A high school graduate needs five years or more of experience, and a bachelor's degree recipient needs three or more years. Project management experience is required. The CWNA is preferred, as well as experience working with Cisco technologies and designing wireless networks.

How to Stand Out

Training in specific areas of wireless networking is a way to maximize your skills. While the CWNA exam covers network security, some employers look for candidates with further knowledge in the subject. A security certification such as the CompTIA Security+ can help you learn areas outside of network security, such as application security, access control and compliance. CompTIA's A+ certification covers basic troubleshooting for computers and networks, as well as basic security principles.

Another helpful skill to master is project management, which you may learn in an undergraduate computer program or from a standalone training course. Knowing how to repair computer hardware and software can also be helpful.

Earn Additional Networking Certifications

CWNP offers more wireless networking certifications than the CWNA. These include the Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP) for those interested in wireless network security, the Certified Wireless Design Professional (CWDP) for those interested in wireless LAN design and the Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE) for advanced professionals.

Cisco offers both wired and wireless networking certifications that are a commonly requested credential for jobs in the field. The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credential covers network administration for both wired and wireless networks that use the company's hardware. If you want to focus on wireless networking, the CCNA Wireless designation lets you focus on supporting wireless LANs. There is also a CCNA Security designation that covers both wired and wireless network security. Both the CCNA Wireless and CCNA Security require the regular CCNA as a prerequisite.

Other Career Paths

If you want to solve networking issues but don't have enough experience for a network administrator position, you could become a computer network support specialist. They interact with users in-person or remotely to troubleshoot and fix issues with both local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). They are also responsible for some maintenance tasks. Some employers require a bachelor's degree related to computers, and on-the-job training is usually provided. The BLS projects the field as a whole to grow 18 percent from 2010-2020, which is about as fast as average. As of May 2011, computer support specialists have a mean annual wage of $52,000.

If designing entire computer systems sounds more intriguing than designing only wireless networks, a computer systems analyst career might be right for you. Computer systems analysts work with management to come up with entire IT systems that fit the company's goals and are within budget. They may also alter current systems and provide user training for new and upgraded systems. According to the BLS, a computer-related bachelor's degree is usually required, and some business training may be preferable. The field is expected to grow 22 percent from 2010-2020. The estimated mean annual wage is $82,000 as of May 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master - Information Technology Management
      • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
      • MBA: Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Public Safety Leadership and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project/Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
      • Bachelor: Technology Management
      • 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 - Information Technology Admin and Management
      • Associate of Science - Technology Studies
    Certificate
      • Networking Systems Certificate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    5. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
      • BS - Game Design (Campus)
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Information Systems - MSIS (Master's)
      • Leadership Studies - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MSIS (Master's)
    Bachelor's
      • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
      • Game Software Development - Bachelor
    Associate's
      • Information Technology - Associate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. The Art Institutes

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Visual & Game Programming (BS)
      • Visual & Game Programming (BA)
  • Campus Locations:
    8. Brightwood College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Computer Networking Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S.s - Management Information Systems
      • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD-TIM - Cybersecurity
    Master's
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Information Systems
      • MBA - Management Information Systems
      • MBA - Computer and Information Security
      • MSTIM - Cybersecurity

Featured Schools

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Kaplan University

  • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
  • BSIT: Network Admin
  • Associate: Information Technology

Which subject are you interested in?

Colorado State University Global

  • Master - Information Technology Management
  • BS - Information Technology
  • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
  • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
  • Networking Systems Certificate

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
  • BS - Game Design (Campus)

What is your highest level of education?

Baker College Online

  • Information Systems - MSIS (Master's)
  • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
  • Information Technology - Associate

What is your highest level of education?

The Art Institutes

  • Visual & Game Programming (BS)
  • Visual & Game Programming (BA)

What is your highest level of education?

Brightwood College

  • Computer Networking Technology

What is your highest level of education?