Preparing For A Career As A Computer Network Technician

by QuickCert on November 15, 2010

Computer Network Technician
For those interested in working with computers and fixing them, a career as a computer network technician may be a possibility. Computer network technicians build computer networks and keep them operating properly. They allow employees to work with common files and applications on the same network drive, send and receive e-mail and connect to the Internet. They also repair system problems and provide troubleshooting. Technicians work in all types of companies, including education, health care, business and government.

Computer network technicians must be familiar with local area networks (LANs) and larger wide area networks (WANs). They often plan and implement their company’s computer networks. However, duties of most network technicians involve overseeing the company’s existing computer networks and troubleshooting any problems.
Creating a computer network involves a lot of planning. It requires cost analyses, determining the needs of a company and selecting the appropriate cabling for a given situation, such as copper wire, fiber-optic cable, coaxial cable or wireless. Computer network technicians may also recommend appropriate layouts for various network configurations, network addressing systems and connection devices. Developing a computer network also requires security and account management. Implementing a network involves a lot of work installing, configuring and resolving conflicts among network adapters and other hardware.

Required Skills
Since computer network technicians work with many non-technical network users, they must have good communication skills to provide instructions about how to perform certain functions and use equipment and software. They may work with others to determine the cause of a problem and provide a resolution. They must have good problem-solving skills in order to identify and troubleshoot network problems. Technicians also identify problems affecting components of the network, such as cables, cards and other related hardware. They also plan ahead and create disaster recovery plans in case the network experiences a malfunction.

Not only do computer network technicians need to be knowledgeable in computer and networking terminology, hardware and protocols, but they also need to be experts at operating systems such as Windows, Unix and Novell NetWare. They must also be familiar with network architecture models such as client-server and peer-to-peer.

Computer network technicians must be self-disciplined and able to multi-task. They must expect to work long hours setting up computers, troubleshooting programs and resolving computer network issues. Plus, they must be patient; since computers are complex, it may not always be possible to fix problems in just a few minutes. More complex problems can take hours or even days to fully resolve.

Many colleges offer a computer network technician program that prepares students for careers in computers. Some programs prepare students for Network+ certification, A+ certification and Microsoft certifications. Students learn all the various computer components, such as routers, switches, printers and operating systems. They also learn to install a network, build and repair computers and provide desktop support to users experiencing computer issues. Classes include electronics, CompTIA basics and networks, Windows server infrastructures, wireless networking, cloud computing, network technology and security, programming basics, web development, Linux systems, LAN/WAN administration and communications. Most programs can be completed in a year and result in a certificate of completion or an Associate of Applied Science degree.

Salary and Outlook
The average salary for computer support specialists is $40,430 per year, with computer and network systems administrators averaging $58,190 annually. Salaries can vary, based on location and industry. The projected job outlook is excellent. With companies growing in the number of employees, plus with many companies employing virtual employees who work from home offices, the need for computer networks will rise. This will spark a demand for highly skilled computer network technicians.