Get a line on career opportunities with study of computer networking
If you’re not sure if computer networking is a good career option, think about what happened the last time your office’s computer network went down, or your home computer’s Internet service failed.
Computer networking is a growing and dynamic field where technicians help keep computers “talking” with one another, involving the hardware, software and communications channels necessary. They maintain networks that link computers, peripherals (printers and modems), communication equipment and video equipment. They work to keep the computer systems and network running and performing optimally, and they may install and maintain network hardware and software, analyze problems, and monitor networks to ensure their availability to users.
“We are using our computers today for many more things. Think of all the ways you use a computer; what would you be able to do if it wasn’t networked?” said Larry Choate, assistant professor. “The demand for computer networking specialists is continuing to grow along with this.”
Networking specialists may work in any number of environments – large corporations, small businesses, government organizations and schools. Employment is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, with estimates from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics putting growth rate for the number of jobs at 23 percent. Demand is expected to increase as organizations need to store, organize, and analyze increasing amounts of data. In addition, as more databases are connected to the Internet, and as data security becomes increasingly important, a growing number of workers will be needed to protect databases from attack. Networking specialists may have to look further than just the Jackson area, but jobs are available in Michigan and nationally.
JCC offers both associate degree and certificate programs for networking specialist, as well as a concentration in Network+/Security+ certifications. Choate said students can find a job with a certificate, but an associate degree can offer more opportunities. Several employers now are looking for people with bachelor’s degrees, and JCC partners with Siena Heights University in a transfer agreement known as a “3+1” program to allow students to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree, in which students take the majority of their first three years, 90 credits, at JCC and then complete their last 30 credits at Siena Heights.
“It helps to have the ability to deal with frustration, and to have a natural curiosity,” Choate said. Networking personnel may be called in at any time when a network goes down, and they need the skills and knowledge to troubleshoot and repair the problem. “You need the ability or desire to constantly learn new things, because computer networking is a very dynamic environment, things are always changing.”
Networking specialists do not necessarily always work a 9-5 job, because they may be called in at all hours if a system is down, or they may need to put in long hours for a certain project if they are getting a new network or system up and running or switching over a network.
Salaries vary, but network systems administrators typically earn from $41,000 to more than $100,000 depending on job and location.
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