Skip to main content

How to Become a Network Specialist in 2021

There’s been a recent uptick in the number of individuals interested in how to become a network specialist, and with good reason. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the profession can expect around 70,000 new jobs to hit the market each year through 2030.

Network professionals are responsible for analyzing, troubleshooting, and evaluating how computer networks function. These efforts often come with generous salaries. The BLS reports individuals in this profession make a median yearly salary of over $65,450, with the top ten percent of earners pocketing upwards of $110,000.

If you’re interested in breaking into the field, read on below. This article will discuss how to become a network specialist, daily responsibilities, necessary skills, and more!

What Does a Computer Network Specialist Do?

Teacher lecturing

Network specialists work to ensure that networks are functioning without a problem. This involves both tangible and intangible components of computer networks.

The tangible sector involves network installation, like determining the physical layout of the network, wiring, and computer and hardware placement. Meanwhile, intangible efforts include collecting and analyzing data on network performance, optimizing network performance, and tackling network problems.

Other responsibilities include maintaining network security, looking for security breaches, and adjusting security permissions. Your work may also involve data and disaster recovery.

Network specialists also work with clients to determine what type of network is most suitable for their needs, budget, and other criteria. They may even supervise new network users or develop training programs.

How To Become a Computer Network Specialist

Read on to learn more about the steps on how to become a network specialist.

1. Complete Necessary Education Requirements

Even though on-the-job training is usually provided, most positions still call for a bachelor’s degree in areas related to information technology, including computer science, computer information systems, computer networking, and more.

Some positions only require an associate’s degree, which takes only two years to obtain. However, having a bachelor’s degree would provide more options for you and give you an edge during job hunting and advancements in your career.

During your program, you might study subjects like programming, systems architecture, database management, computer systems analysis, and cyber-security. These are all subjects that equip you with the technical knowledge you need to tackle different aspects of the job.

You could also expect to spend a lot of time in computer labs to apply theory to practice hands-on. Upon completing your program, you’ll have the degree you need to start applying for a network specialist position.

2. Obtain Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Like many professions, there are certifications and licenses you might have to obtain to assess your abilities as a network specialist. Below are some licenses and certifications that may be necessary for the job.

CompTIA A+

CompTIA A+ is an internationally recognized certification for IT professionals. It’s a great certification to have for network engineers, computer support specialists, and network specialists. IT experts regularly update the exam to include core skills and abilities needed in the workplace.

The exam revolves around computer hardware, operating systems, software troubleshooting, network troubleshooting, security, mobile devices, virtualization and cloud computing, operational procedures, and networking skills.

The exam lasts 90 minutes, and you have to answer up to 90 questions during this time, so you’ll have to manage your time well. 

The questions cover the abovementioned areas and may be presented as multiple-choice questions (with one or multiple answers), drag and drops, and performance-based questions. 

Performance-based questions test your ability to solve problems in real-time in a simulated environment. It’s the only type of exam with this performance-based test item.

The CompTIA A+ is not an easy exam, as the official website recommends that you have at least 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience in the lab or field. 

[su_note note_color=”#0e3f79″ text_color=”#fff” radius=”5

The best way to prepare for this exam is to download The Official CompTIA Study Guides and study them diligently. You can also read other people’s experiences with the exam, as they’ll often share tips on studying and time management.

The score ranges from 100 (lowest score) to 900 (highest score), and you have to reach 675 for Core 1 and 700 for Core 2 to pass.

Currently, CompTIA A+ is recognized by employers around the globe as a professional certification for technical support and end-point management. It’s an excellent certification to have to launch your IT career. It provides both online and in-person exams and costs $232 per exam.

CompTIA Network+

The CompTIA Network+ is even more tailored towards network professionals. Unlike general exams for IT skills, CompTIA Network+ focuses on networking skills and covers hands-on skills and professional knowledge that the workplace needs today. This certification is ideal for network engineers, system administrators, and network specialists to have.

This exam covers five core areas: networking fundamentals, network implementations, network operations, network security, and network troubleshooting. 

Just like CompTIA A+, you have 90 minutes to answer up to 90 questions in different forms, including multiple-choice questions (with one answer or multiple answers), drag and drops, and performance-based questions. 

The lowest score you can get on this exam is 100, while the highest is 900; you have to reach 720 to pass.

CompTIA recommends that candidates have at least 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience in networking and that they hold a CompTIA A+ certificate, so it’s not an exam you can pass without some studying or real-life experience. 

The good news is that by purchasing this exam, you have access to self-paced learning, live online training, custom training, and labs to help you crush the exam, advance your skills, and kick start your IT career.

[su_note note_color=”#0e3f79″ text_color=”#fff” radius=”5

If that’s not enough, you can also download an official training guide from CompTIA for self-study.

CompTIA Network+ is also internationally recognized, and this certification validates the essential skills you need as a professional working in a networking environment. The certification helps distinguish network engineers, network administrators, and other professionals from other applicants.

You can go for an in-person exam at a testing center near you, or you could opt for an online exam instead, as both are available. The exam costs $338, so study hard.

CompTIA Security+

cisco certified network associate

As a network specialist, you might work in many areas of networking, one being security. If security is an area you’d like to focus on in your networking career, getting a CompTIA Security+ certification is recommended.

More and more jobs require applicants to have at least baseline cyber security skills to keep company data safe, which makes sharpening e-security skills a necessary step for those interested in a network administration or network engineering career.

The CompTIA Security+ certification covers the latest trends and core techniques in cyber security. You’ll be tested in 5 areas, including attacks, threats, and vulnerabilities, as well as governance, risk, and compliance. 

Other areas are implementation, architecture and design, and operations and incident response. All skills ensure that you have a high performance on your job.

If you successfully pass the exam, it means you’ll have the ability to assess the security situation of a company, implement a suitable solution, monitor hybrid environments, identify and analyze security events, and respond accordingly to incidents. 

This exam also assesses your hands-on skills, ensuring that you can work perfectly in real-life environments.

CompTIA recommends that candidates pass CompTIA Network+ and have two years of IT administration experience with a focus on security before they take this exam, making this the most challenging exam out of the 3 CompTIA exams. 

You can either take it online or go to the nearest testing center and take your exam in person. The CompTIA Security+ certification is trusted by countless companies and recognized worldwide, which means it will give you an edge over other job applicants.

3. Gain experience

After you’ve gotten all your credentials sorted out, it’s time to gain some real-world skills. One of the easiest ways to do so is by pursuing an internship. 

Remember, many university programs have internship agreements with many companies, information technology firms, and data centers. Try to take advantage of these opportunities while you’re still a student.

You could also volunteer at your school, club, or even small businesses and organizations since they will sometimes need individuals with specialized skills to help them with their networking needs and problems.

Or, start your own networking project. This allows you to explore what you want to do and assess your own skills without pressure. It’s also a great way to start building your portfolio.

4. Pursue Entry-Level Positions

An entry-level position will provide the training you need as a network specialist and help prepare you for more advanced roles down the road.

Some of the most popular starting positions include IT support technician, help desk specialist, and more. 

Entry-level employees are often tasked with installing and supporting hardware and software, offering technical support, documenting network problems, and other related work. Remember, even the largest corporations in the world have openings for entry-level employees.

[su_note note_color=”#0e3f79″ text_color=”#fff” radius=”5

With some experience, you’ll develop more confidence in your abilities, which will help you prepare for higher-level positions like a full-stack network engineer, network administrator, or network architect.

Essential Qualities for Working in Network Security

Even though real-world skills and hands-on experience are crucial for this job, being a network specialist calls for a list of important qualities that aren’t always related to professional knowledge.

Even though real-world skills and hands-on experience are crucial for this job, being a network specialist calls for a list of important qualities that aren’t always related to professional knowledge.

Communication Skills

Since you will most likely be working with a team to solve networking problems, it’s important to maintain good communication skills. You may also have to develop training guides or supervise new network users who may not have a background in information technology, so you need to explain things clearly and effectively.

The job also requires you to work with clients, and you’ll have to work with them to assess their needs and provide suitable solutions. When problems arise, you may have to communicate with folks who don’t have the vocabulary to articulate the issue. In that case, you’ll need to ask the right questions to figure out the problem.

Analytical Skills

Finding a solution is seldom straightforward. You need to collect data, compare information, and conduct some deductive reasoning to find the best solution to a problem. Mathematical skills are also helpful when it comes to figuring out your needed capacity and available bandwidth. 

Sharp problem-solving skills, creative thinking, and proactiveness will also help you be a better network specialist as you need them to work out network problems as they arise. 

Ability to Adapt Quickly

New technology comes out every day. You won’t use the same system forever, so you will most certainly have to learn to use new systems with better performance. 

This applies in the day-to-day as well, since even the best-laid plans can’t accommodate sudden changes. When more urgent tasks come up, you need to shift your focus from what you’re already working on without hesitancy.

Conclusion

network specialist

Like all careers, there are perks and certain downsides to the job. On the one hand, network specialist positions often pay well and carry tons of opportunities to advance. Job availability is another significant advantage to information technology.

Of course, network specialists often work in high-pressure environments. They may be expected to correct issues in a short amount of time. You might also work unpredictable hours or stay on-call.

Stil ff monitoring networks and optimizing network performance, then a career as a network specialist might be for you. Begin your journey with ICOHS College. Our IT Network Specialist Certificate program instructs students to install, configure, and repair PCs, Cisco routers, and switches.

The program will also prepare students for CompTIA’s trifecta and the Cisco Certified Network Associate Certificate.

[su_note note_color=”#0e3f79″ text_color=”#fff” radius=”5

Scholarships and title IV funding are available for our IT programs and additional course offerings. Give us a call at (858) 581-9460 or email us to learn more about what financial assistance programs we support.

All students receive access to our career services department as well as lifetime job placement assistance. Our staff works hard to help graduates land jobs they’re passionate about.  

ICOHS College is accredited by the ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education, accet.org). To learn more about ICOHS College accreditations and licenses, visit our accreditation page.

FAQ

How much do network specialists make?

According to the BLS, the average salary for a computer network support specialist is $65,450. For more advanced positions, like the Network and Computer Systems Administrators, salaries fall around $85,000 per year.

How long does it take to become a computer network specialist?

Many positions require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree in information technology, including computer networking, computer engineering, and other related majors. Students can graduate from these programs after four years of study with online degrees available.

What jobs can you get with a network specialist degree?

With a degree in information technology, you’ll have a wide career path in the IT industry. If you have a degree in computer engineering, you can become a network engineer, database developer, hardware systems designer, and more. 

If you hold a degree in computer science, you can consider working as a full-stack network engineer, data scientist, and more. 

You could also work your way up to become a network administrator or go into consulting. It depends on your degree, but generally speaking, you’ll have a wide selection of jobs in the IT industry.

What is the highest position in networking?

Network architects hold the highest positions in networking. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for network architects is $116,780
 
Their job involves building and designing data communication networks like local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. Besides technical abilities, a network architect must possess excellent analytical and problem-solving skills and communicate well. 
 
Most positions require a bachelor’s degree in a subject related to information technology, including computer science, engineering, information systems, and others.

Stay in the Loop

Sign up to receive exclusive content and updates.

Observe a Free Class!

See for yourself why ICOHS College is considered one of the top Vocational Schools in San Diego. Sign up now to observe a free class and join our students on the path to an exciting new career. Simply fill out the form and our expert admissions team will contact you to schedule your experience.

Admissions Support

Schedule an appointment to meet with your admissions representative in person at ICOHS College.
Phone support available
Mon-Fri from 9am to 6pm PT.
If we are unavailable please leave a message and we will return your call.
You may email us at: admissions@icohs.edu
Please include your full name and preferred way to contact you.

Please enter your information to continue.

Please enter your information to continue.

Terms

By submitting this form, you are giving your express written consent for ICOHS College to contact you regarding our programs and services using email, telephone or text – including our use of automated technology for calls and periodic texts to any wireless number you provide. Message and data rates may apply. This consent is not required to purchase goods/services and you may always call us directly at 858-581-9460.
Attention Veterans! New Financial Aid Fund Available.
This is default text for notification bar