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How to build a career in computer networking

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Love computers and technology? In the fast-paced world of IT, few areas are as challenging, diverse, and rewarding as the ever-evolving world of computer networking.

Focused on the ways in which machines, computers, and other devices are connected to share information and other digital resources; the field offers much opportunity to pursue a wide breadth of tech skills: including those in programming, cybersecurity, and technician work. As a computer networking professional, you’ll be tasked with installing, managing, configuring, and maintaining a business’ IT network – an ideal role for those who love creative problem-solving, autonomy, and working with digital systems. 

We explore the benefits of pursuing a career in computer networking below, ways to start your professional journey, and how Upskilled’s networking courses can help. 

Is computer networking a good career? 

Computer networking may just be an ideal fit for those who are not only technically savvy – but also enjoy variety, consistent challenges, and hands-on, practical activity in their work. Those in the field are often tasked with a new technological puzzle each day, whether it’s troubleshooting encountered network issues; finding ways to improve their company’s current IT infrastructure; providing network programming according to business requirements; or managing client requests. 

With the sector’s wide variety of projects and activities, network professionals typically hone a wide, diverse set of IT skills transferable across different fields in the industry. For example, building on your programming skills through networking can help you pursue other specialties that focus on code, such as roles in software development or systems engineering. The skills you gain through managing network security can transfer over to roles in the lucrative sector of cybersecurity. Even areas as simple as providing quality customer service can help equip you for other client and business-focused roles in the world of IT.

Additionally, with frequent developments in computer networking, the field is never a boring one – offering a constant stream of new opportunities to innovate and upgrade your skills. 

Is computer networking in demand?

IT professionals working together

Computer networking skills currently face high demand in Australia, with statistics from the Australian Industry and Skills Committee projecting a leap from 34,700 professionals in 2020 to 53,400 by 2024. Their weekly earnings are currently far higher than the all-jobs average ($1,460), with the average full-time worker earning about $2,021 per week. 

Such demand is only set to further grow as businesses and individuals grow ever-more reliant on social media, cloud computing, mobile devices, and big data.

A wide variety of roles are currently available in the field – from entry-level positions such as a support technician, junior programmer, or junior networking specialist; to advanced titles such as a network engineer, architect, or information systems manager. 

Networking skills are also in-demand across a wide range of industries, these including finance, education, medicine, and entertainment. Depending on your interests or experience, you’ll have plenty of choice on where to take your career.

Cisco also notes that networking standards are global, helping you apply your professional skills or certifications across worldwide opportunities. 

How do I start a career in computer networking?

Launching a career in computer networking begins with proper skills, education, and training. According to Job Outlook, aspiring professionals will typically need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant IT field (such as one involving network engineering or computer systems) to enter the industry. However, plenty of those in the sector also hold certificate or diploma qualifications. Such training is valuable for helping one pursue further, tertiary study or to simply build their skills for entry-level opportunities in the field. 

Once you’ve completed the basic educational requirements (such as an IT networking qualification, either a diploma or certificate), obtaining well-recognised vendor or industry certifications is also highly recommended. Some of the best networking certifications include Cisco’s Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certifications and CompTIA’s Network+ certification. These arm you with global credentials to verify your skills and knowledge, helping you draw in the attention and trust of potential employers. You’ll also have the option of specialising in a specific “device path” – as vendors typically offer additional certifications to hone your skills under their unique products and devices. 

With Cisco, for example, you’ll typically focus on equipment such as routers, wireless phones, switches, and security software. Microsoft’s certifications will have you familiar with their software programs (Windows, Office, Business, etc.) and devices such as their Microsoft mobile devices, computers, and peripheral equipment. 

Honing a specialised set of skills can also help you decide on the specific role(s) you wish to pursue, whether it’s a position in engineering, administration, or hands-on technician work. 

Once you’ve done this, you can then set about your job hunt. If necessary, plenty of entry-level, junior roles or apprenticeship opportunities are available to help you set foot in the industry and build on your professional experience. 

What is the highest position in networking?

computer professional working on a project

According to Payscale, network architects in Australia currently earn an average salary of $139,745 AUD – with the highest-earning 10% receiving around $173,000 AUD annually. Not only is the average network architect earning upwards of six figures a year, but professionals also have plenty of potential to earn more as experience grows. 

Network architects hold the high-level responsibility of designing a business’ network requirements and overall infrastructure. They oversee most network operations by coordinating the installation and maintenance of network hardware and software, and regularly monitor network performance for security flaws and related issues. If necessary, they also offer users the technical support and guidance they need among complex wireless or local area network systems. 

Becoming a network architect typically requires plenty of experience in network design, management, security, and administration; with additional industry or cybersecurity certifications often recommended. 

Seeking a future in computer networking? 

As mentioned, additional course training is highly recommended to stand out from the competition. 

Upskilled currently provides courses exploring both the fundamental and advanced skillsets of managing computer networks – from small-scale systems to enterprise-wide environments. Through our ICT40120 – Certificate IV in Information Technology (Networking) and ICT50120 – Diploma of Information Technology (Advanced Networking), students will delve into critical areas of security, equipment installation, and virtual computing; preparing them for in-demand roles such as those in systems administration, engineering, and technician work. 

Best of all, both programs are delivered online, helping you tailor your studies around personal needs and schedule. 

Hone your IT abilities or pursue one of the industry’s top fields today – and enquire with us on a course.

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