Computer Hardware Networking Jobs
"Network and Computer Systems Administrators, " U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014,
What Does it Mean to Study Computer Networking?
Anyone who has ever sent an e-mail has used computer networking. A generation ago, computer use was still new, but today life would be unthinkable without the benefits computer networking provides. The computer network has become a fundamental tool of today's corporate environment.
Computer networks function on a local area (LAN) or a wide area (WAN) based upon the number of people and the geographic distances involved. These can include a small business with two or three employees to major corporations to the Federal government of the United States. But computer networks exist in realms beyond business. Virtually every aspect of today's society depends on information that is furnished through computer networks. Companies can save millions of dollars by sharing resources via computer networks rather than by shipping or traveling. Individuals use computer networking to do their banking from home, communicate with relatives, and even to entertain themselves with music or by playing video games.
Computer networking is the connecting of two or more computers that allows them to share resources. It can be done between computers in a home, in a business, across a corporation, and even internationally. The Internet is the largest example of computer networking because it involves thousands of networks of computers that share information.
Computer networking has changed the lifestyle of Americans. People can work from home while they keep an eye on their children. Companies can conduct video conferences and share software. Information on just about any conceivable subject is available at the click of a mouse. But computer networking has a downside as well. Hackers routinely try to break into company files, information is stolen from computer networks, and the networks themselves can have technical problems or crash completely.
Computer networking specialists are being called upon more and more to safeguard individual, company and government information through constantly changing security processes. A career that barely existed a generation ago has become one of the more high-profile jobs in the world today. The increasing spread of network technology combined with the complexity of that technology means that a graduate will be walking into a growing field that promises to continue to provide challenges and demands for many years to come.
What Does a Computer Networking Specialist Do?
As computer networking becomes an increasingly routine part of our daily lives, the jobs of computer networking specialists and administrators become more important. It is the job of the computer-networking specialist to keep the networks working. Once a network goes down, many businesses cease to function until it returns to normal. Computer networks have become the communications backbone of large and small businesses.
Problem solving is by far the No. 1 activity for computer networking specialists, and the ability to solve problems quickly and creatively is essential.
The priority of the computer networking specialist is the day-to-day support that keeps the network functioning. A small travel agency, for instance, cannot function if it does not have access to its computer network of airlines and travel databases. Plenty of businesses would be in the same predicament. The computer networking specialist maintains the software and hardware, monitors the system for potential disturbances, analyzes problems, and develops plans for potential solutions. A solid technical support background can help in network administration because it exposes students to unexpected problems and brings them into contact with a broad range of products and computer activities. Networking specialists can anticipate problems and develop plans to prevent them or to reduce their effects when they do happen.
The computer networking specialist's early career responsibilities might involve monitoring and performing routine maintenance on the computer systems. These responsibilities might include presenting recommendations or developing technical requirements about the company's network based on available technology.
In some systems, the computer-networking specialist also oversees the security system for the network. Computer crime is a growing problem and networking specialists are constantly being challenged to find new ways to thwart potential information thieves. They must understand the nature of the information being protected, the type of software and hardware being used, and the myriad possible ways to breach its security.
A typical role for the computer networking specialist is to train others how to use the system. The specialist must know the intricate details of the system but be capable of translating that information to the layman. Company employees must know what the system can and cannot do, and they must be shown what they can do to protect information and help prevent possible hacking from outsiders.
Computer networking specialists might also serve as the systems administrator for the network. Their role is to identify and evaluate the needs of a company and then develop the network requirements to implement a plan for meeting those needs. They must design a system with parts that fit together and work properly with the least potential for disruption. Administrators might become software engineers and take part in designing the system or network.
Computer networking specialists usually work in comfortable surroundings, but they have to be prepared for a variety of inconveniences. Network breakdowns can happen at any time and very few businesses can wait until the next working day to get it up and running again. This means that the networking specialist may remain on-call during night and weekend hours in the event of an emergency. It also means the specialist should be able to handle some degree of stress. When the system is down, people are not working, and that means the pressure is on to get the system working again as soon as possible.
Trends in Computer Networking Careers
According to 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 366, 400 people made their living as computer networking specialists or systems administrators in 2012. That number is expected to grow faster than average because more companies are investing heavily in computer networks. As this investment continues, the companies may be more interested in developing security features that prevent electronic attacks.
The number of companies conducting electronic commerce is also growing, and American consumers are becoming more comfortable with making purchases online. This trend is also good news for computer networking specialists because they may be called upon to develop the systems that allow the businesses to conduct e-commerce. Those who have strong computer skills and experience but do not have a bachelor's degree in computer networking can qualify for some entry-level jobs. Certification in the appropriate technology might also be a requirement for anyone who does not have a degree.
Another unfortunate fact of life since the September 11th attacks is the continuing need for homeland security. The federal government is pumping billions of dollars into research and development for security techniques. A part of this research and development has been in securing computer networks from terrorist attacks, or even using the networks to trace information.