The Pros and Cons of a Network Analyst Career
Network analysts work with organizations to examine their information technology then determine what network should be set up. Read on to learn more pros and cons to help you decide if you'd like to pursue a career as a network analyst.
|Pros of a Network Analyst Career|
|Above-average salary (mean annual wage of $79,770 in 2014)*|
|Positive job prospects (projected job growth of 12% between 2012 and 2022)*|
|Opportunity to work in a variety of industries*|
|Opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology*|
|Cons of a Network Analyst Career|
|Must work overtime and be on call to fix network emergencies**|
|Exposure to high noise levels from servers and other equipment**|
|Errors affect all computer users**|
|Occasional conflict situations with angry coworkers**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **iseek.org.
Network analysts evaluate an organization's information technology requirements to determine what kind of network needs to be set up. They then install the proper hardware and software and make sure that all system users have the access they need. Network analysts often work overtime and must be on call to quickly handle computer emergencies. They test and monitor the systems in the network and make any required adjustments and repairs. They also anticipate any future system needs.
Salary Information and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), network and computer systems analysts earned a mean annual wage of $79,770 in 2014. Their career prospects are very good, with job growth in the field projected to increase by 12% between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Corporate investment in new technologies will create a greater demand for network analysts.
A bachelor's degree in a computer-related field is typically required to find work as a network analyst; however, it is possible to obtain employment with an engineering degree. Some individuals may be able to find a position with just an associate's degree or certificate in addition to work experience, although this is not as common.
A network analyst must have a working knowledge of computers and electronics, including programming, circuit boards and processors. Familiarity with different types of software, such as network security, network monitoring, configuration management and virus protection software is required. A network analyst must be able to anticipate and recognize problems. The ability to organize and set priorities is vital. Other skills a network analyst must have include:
- Deductive and inductive reasoning
- Problem solving
- Creative thinking
- Ability to analyze information
- Oral expression and comprehension
- Ability to obtain information from various sources
Job Postings by Real Employers
Job listings describe the duties the network analyst is expected to perform. Most employers require a bachelor's degree. Following are real job positions for network analysts that were open in May 2012:
- An information technology company in Texas seeks a network analyst with a bachelor's degree and at least three years of experience who can modify code and maintain data integrity. Experience with Microsoft Visual Studio and SQL Server is required.
- A public school system in Connecticut wants to hire a network analyst with a bachelor's degree and more than five years of experience to develop and maintain network reliability. Cisco experience is preferred. This is a 12-month position.
- A Michigan healthcare services corporation is looking for a senior network analyst with a bachelor's degree and at least six years of network experience to develop, install and troubleshoot routing and switching protocols in a Cisco network.
How to Get an Edge in the Field
Becoming certified is a good way to get an edge in the job market if you are interested in a career as a network analyst. Some companies only hire network analysts who are certified in the software used to run their system network. Cisco and Microsoft certifications are some of the most popular.
Cisco Certified Network Associate and Cisco Certified Network Professional are some of the credentials you can obtain to prove your expertise as a Cisco system network analyst. Becoming a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator will demonstrate your ability to manage a network that uses the Windows operating system. Training programs that prepare students to pass the various certification exams are offered by software companies and universities.
Other Careers to Consider
Computer Support Specialist
If you like to work with computers, but haven't completed your bachelor's degree, you may want to look into a career as a computer support specialist. Computer support specialists help people who are having trouble with their computers. They ask questions to determine the source of the problem, and then solve the problem either by walking a user through the steps over the phone or fixing the problem onsite. According to the BLS, computer support specialists earned a mean annual wage of $52,000 in 2011. Job growth in the field is projected to increase by 18% between 2010 and 2020, which is about average.
Computer Hardware Engineer
If you want to work in the information technology field, and you'd like to pursue a career in engineering, becoming a hardware engineer may be a good option. Computer hardware engineers design various types of computer equipment, such as modems, circuit boards, printers, chips and keyboards. They test the components they design to make sure they are compatible with the software that will be used. Computer hardware engineers earned a mean annual wage of $101,000 in 2011, according to the BLS. Although computer hardware engineers earn considerably higher pay than network analysts and computer support specialists, jobs for computer hardware engineers are only expected to increase by 9%, which is slower than average.