Pros and Cons of an Internetworking Technician Career
Internetworking technicians troubleshoot computer and internetwork problems. Consider these pros and cons to see if becoming a technician is right for you.
|Pros of Being an Internetworking Technician|
|Higher-than-average median salary of about $44,300*|
|Minimal education requirements (some technicians may only need an associate's degree)*|
|Can work in several fields (education, health care, etc.)*|
|May have the satisfaction of helping others solve technical problems*|
|Cons of Being an Internetworking Technician|
|Unusual and long hours may be required (including nights and weekends)*|
|Lower-level technicians may have their jobs outsourced*|
|Troubleshooting often requires excellent knowledge of internetworks and a high level of patience*|
|May have to deal with frustrated employees or bosses*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job Description and Duties
Internetworking technicians test and evaluate networks and systems and troubleshoot any problems. They may install and maintain data products, switches, hubs and routers for the effective management of information networks. Internetworking technicians usually focus on local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). However, they may also provide customer service and help-desk consultations in the workplace. Most work full time, and they often need to be available 24 hours a day to assist with internetworking problems that could arise.
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Although statistics specifically for internetworking technicians weren't readily available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that computer support specialists would see employment growth of 12% from 2014-2024, which is faster than average. The BLS said the strong growth would be fueled by factors such as organizations upgrading their systems, the need to repair complex systems and increased demand in the healthcare field.
The BLS indicated that the middle-half of computer support professionals made annual salaries ranging from about $34,320-$57,290, as of May 2014. In the same reporting period, their median annual wage was about $44,300, and the lowest paid 10% earned around $27,000 or less, while the highest-paid 10% made about $73,000 or more.
What are the Requirements?
Depending on the position and the skills required, the education qualifications for these professionals range from postsecondary college coursework to a bachelor's degree. An associate's degree can be sufficient for many lower-level jobs, while a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field is often necessary to obtain a more technical position. Additionally, technicians usually complete several months of employer-provided on-the-job training when they first start a new position. Also, technology is continually evolving, which requires that technicians keep their skills and knowledge current to successfully perform their jobs and remain employable.
If you want to succeed as an internetworking technician, the following qualities are commonly necessary:
- Strong communication skills
- Well-honed analytical skills
- Excellent ability with computers
- A willingness to keep learning
- The patience and the desire to help others
- The ability to work well with others
Job Postings from Real Employers
Job postings on sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com generally don't advertise for internetworking technicians. However, you can find a position that shares many of the same duties, such as computer technician or technical support technician. Employers typically asked for friendly applicants who had sound knowledge of computers and networks. Here were some specific examples from April 2012:
- A university in Michigan looked for a network technician who had completed at least two years of postsecondary education or who possessed equivalent experience and who had at least a year of experience in network infrastructure support. The technician needed to be familiar with firewalls, as well as installation, administration and maintenance of networks. They must be able to work with others and determine ideal upgrades for the school. The technician would also train student technicians.
- An online vendor with a center in Virginia asked for a technical support technician with excellent interpersonal skills and a high technical aptitude. The applicant needed to posses a bachelor's degree, as well as prior experience with network troubleshooting and PC repair. Applicants with a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification and a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) designation were desired.
- A school district in Pennsylvania needed a computer technician who had at least an associate's degree, though a higher degree was preferred. The technician should have knowledge of Windows and Macintosh operating systems, as well as the ability to repair computers and provide technical support. The employer also preferred an applicant with A+ certification.
- A company in Arizona posted a job for an operations technician, ideally with an associate's or a bachelor's degree and at least two years of experience. The employer also asked for certifications, including the CCNA, the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) and the Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT - replaced by Red Hat System Administrator designation - RHSA) or a comparable level of knowledge. Job responsibilities included troubleshooting software applications, helping customers with computer installation and assisting with network administration.
How Can I Stand Out?
Standing out from other applicants can be a daunting task, and each employer may expect different things. For example, schools may ask for technicians who have previously worked in a university setting, while a bank may prefer a professional who has worked in a financial environment. However, a general qualification that many employers find invaluable is certification.
There are several types of available certifications, which are often offered by product vendors. For example, Microsoft provides a wide variety of designations for IT professionals, such as the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and the MCITP. Cisco and Red Hat also provide certifications that focus on network and system maintenance. Obtaining certification usually entails taking and passing an exam or series of exams.
Computer Systems Analyst
These professionals work with management to determine the computing needs of a business or an organization. Computer analysts have duties that range from setting up IT budgets to updating software needed by a company. They also oversee the planning and installation of computer systems, ensuring that the products are a good fit for a particular workplace.
According to the BLS, computer systems analysts made a median annual salary of around $79,000, as of May 2011. The BLS also predicted faster-than-average employment growth of 22% from 2010-2020. Despite the favorable salaries and employment outlook, most of these professionals need to have a bachelor's degree. Some may even need a master's degree in business administration.
Network and Computer Systems Administrator
Many companies rely upon dependable networks and computers for the distribution of information and emails. Network and computer systems administrators organize, install and maintain computer systems and networks that facilitate data management. These workers can have either a bachelor's or an associate's degree in a computer related field, though a bachelor's degree is the more common requirement.
The BLS indicated that these administrators earned a median annual wage of about $71,000, as of May 2011. From 2010-2020, the BLS projected much faster-than-average employment growth of 28% for computer and network systems administrators.