For recent graduates on the hunt for computer networking jobs, the question is often: “What can you do with a computer networking degree?” Fortunately, the short answer is “quite a lot.” Employment opportunities in computer and information technology are on the rise, and this includes many computer networking careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 13% increase in IT jobs expected between the years 2020 and 2030 will result in over 665,000 new jobs for qualified applicants in the information technology field. This is good news for professionals with a computer networking degree as they pursue positions in the industry such as computer network support specialists, network architects, information security analysts, and network administrators, for instance. In this article, our editors identify ten of the top computer networking jobs, providing detailed information on each occupation such as job growth projections, education and training requirements, and salary expectations.
The Top 10 Computer Networking Jobs for 2022
As you peruse this list of the best computer networking careers for 2022, be advised that these occupations were hand-picked by our editors based on characteristics such as job growth projections, salary details, and required academic qualifications. Sources informing our decision include the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and PayScale. The following 10 computer networking jobs are listed by average or median annual salaries in ascending order. An important disclaimer: salary averages are provided here for reference only. Exact salaries vary by employer, location, and specific job responsibilities among other factors.
Computer Network Support Specialist
Sometimes called technical support specialists, computer network support specialists are responsible for maintaining and repairing computer networks on behalf of a business or organization. Some of their day-to-day tasks include testing networks for optimal performance, troubleshooting network issues, and assisting network users as problems occur. These types of computer networking jobs are often performed under the direction of network and computer systems administrators.
The role of a computer network support specialist is one of our entry-level computer networking careers, so the pay is on the low end of the spectrum for computer and information technology positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for computer network support specialists was just over $65,000 in 2020. There is the opportunity to earn more, however; top earners in the field made well over six figures this same year.
The BLS also indicates that the demand for computer network support specialists is growing steadily as of this writing. Because the field is relatively small, though, there will only be about 14,200 new jobs for these network specialists over the next eight years.
To become a computer network support specialist, some educational requirements are usually mandated, including a computer networking (or related) degree at the associate’s level. Some employers, especially at larger corporations, may prefer a bachelor’s degree in computer networking or a related IT field.
Average Salary: $65,450
Network and Computer Systems Administrator
One of the most common computer networking jobs is the occupation of a network and computer systems administrator. These trained IT professionals are responsible for a business or organization’s computer systems, including installation and maintenance of networks (including LANs and WANs). Specific responsibilities include:
- Ensure optimal network/computer systems performance
- Install upgrades and perform repairs as necessary
- Provide training for computer hardware and software
- Address problems and security concerns related to computer networks and systems
Network and computer systems administrators may work closely with other information technology professionals, including those in related computer networking careers such as network architects and computer support specialists, for instance.
In terms of computer networking careers, the occupation of a network and computer systems administrator is one of the highest-paid positions in the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these network specialists earn approximately $84,810 per year on average. That’s more than twice the median annual wage for the average job in the United States. Plus, these IT administrators have the potential to earn much more—as much as $134,000 annually.
To become a network and computer systems administrator, you’ll likely need to enroll in a computer networking degree program that culminates in a bachelor’s credential. Some of these professionals major in a closely related field such as computer science, computer and information technology, computer engineering, or even electrical engineering. For some jobs, candidates may also need a professional certificate or license in networking such as those offered by Microsoft and Cisco, for example. Prior experience in an IT role is also a common prerequisite for work in network and computer systems administration.
Average Salary: $84,810
Computer Systems Analyst
If you’re still wondering what can you do with a computer networking degree, you may be wise to consider the position of a computer systems analyst. These professionals bridge the gap between the fields of business and information technology by designing computer systems to meet an organization’s business needs. They may also do some or all of the following tasks:
- Conducting cost-benefit analyses on technological solutions
- Testing new systems and upgrades
- Creating instruction manuals and other training materials
- Advise corporate executives on decisions regarding technological processes
Computer systems analysts are some of the best-paid positions when it comes to computer networking careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these professionals in the IT industry made nearly $94,000 on average in the year 2020. Top earners in this occupation earned more than $150,000 that same year.
A computer networking degree is usually preferred for positions as computer systems analysts, but degrees in related fields like computer science, mathematics, or even business are sometimes sufficient. To maintain their positions, computer systems analysts must devote themselves to continuous professional development as technological advancements continue to evolve.
Average Salary: $93,730
Management Information Systems (MIS) Director
Among some of the upper-level computer networking jobs highlighted in our ranking is the position of management information systems (MIS) director. These IT specialists oversee how businesses use technology and information systems to collect, store, share, and utilize information. MIS directors also provide supervision and oversight to other IT professionals in their department such as analysts, technicians, and managers.
Since a directorship is a high-level role with great responsibility, the education and training requirements for management information systems directors can be quite rigorous. In many cases, a candidate may need a computer networking degree at the master’s level, as well as five or more years of experience in an IT role.
There are some significant job perks for those who qualify for these positions in management information systems, though. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for computer and information systems managers such as MIS directors are growing rapidly with over 52,000 new jobs becoming available over the next eight years. Once hired, these types of information technology directors can expect to make a six-figure salary, according to PayScale.
Average Salary: $102,333
Information Security Analyst
Some IT professionals with a computer networking degree assume roles as information security analysts. These types of analysts develop and implement security solutions to keep an organization’s computer networks safe from cyber threats. Some of their specific responsibilities may include:
- Testing networks for potential vulnerabilities to cyber attacks
- Installing security software as necessary
- Identifying and monitoring potential security threats
- Creating and implementing security protocols
Information security analysis is one of the most attractive computer networking careers because it is a job that is not only in high demand but is also very lucrative. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment opportunities for this particular occupation will expand by 33% by the end of the decade, creating over 47,000 new jobs for information security analysts. These are well-paid positions, too, with the average salary for these IT specialists exceeding $103,000 per year.
Since this is a coveted position in information technology, the hiring process is competitive. Candidates with advanced computer networking degrees such as a master’s in computer and information technology or an MBA with a concentration in information systems will have the best prospects. Employers often prefer that new information security analysts also have prior experience in an IT role, and some require special certifications.
Average Salary: $103,590
IT Security Managers
Another possible answer to the question, “What can you do with a computer networking degree?”, the job of an information security manager requires both business acumen and a strong foundation in computer and information technology. These IT professionals are tasked with the challenging and pertinent task of keeping computer networks safe from outside threats such as data breaches and hackers, for example. In addition, they must also manage and supervise other information technology personnel like information security analysts and computer network support specialists.
The role of an information security manager is one of those computer networking careers that require years of experience in addition to a computer networking degree. The required number of years may vary by employer, but this experience should be in a position related to information security.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment for IT security managers will continue to grow at a faster-than-average pace alongside other types of computer and information systems managers. Positions for these types of IT managers are associated with higher-than-average salaries, too, with PayScale reporting typical wages exceeding $115,000 annually.
Average Salary: $115,200
Computer Network Architect
The position of a computer network architect is one of the most prestigious computer networking jobs in the industry. These top-level IT professionals are responsible for constructing complex computer networks, including Intranets, wide area networks (WANs) and local area networks (LANs). Also known as network engineers, computer network architects are typically tasked with additional responsibilities such as:
- Planning and designing network systems that meet clients’ needs
- Ensuring network security
- Installing upgrades to existing computer hardware and software
- Delivering presentations to clients regarding plans for network systems
- Troubleshooting network issues
Computer network architects are well-compensated for their work, routinely making six-figure salaries. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual wage for network architects to be over $116,000 as of 2020. Some of the top earners in this occupation make more than $175,000 annually.
To work as a computer network architect, you’ll need a computer networking degree at the bachelor’s or master’s level. Since this is an advanced position in information technology, you’ll also need some experience working in an IT role.
Average Salary: $116,780
Computer and Information Systems Manager
One of the faster-growing computer networking jobs in our ranking, the position of a computer and information systems manager requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the field. Because these are senior-level professionals, additional work experience is often required in addition to a computer networking degree, and many computer and information systems managers hold advanced degrees as well.
Also referred to as information technology managers, computer and information systems managers are in charge of an organization’s overall IT goals and protocols. They perform pertinent duties such as:
- Consult with executives regarding the organization’s IT goals, recommending possible technology solutions
- Weigh the pros and cons of new technological innovations and initiatives within the company
- Direct the implementation of new hardware and software solutions to support the company’s goals
- Supervise the work of other IT personnel within the organization
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information systems managers are currently in high demand. These computer networking jobs are expected to grow by 11% over the next decade—much faster than the average. This will result in more than 42,000 new positions for qualified candidates. Once hired on, these IT managers will earn handsome wages. The BLS reports median salaries of over $150,000 with top earners making more than $200,000 per year.
Average Salary: $151,150
Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
Another of the most prestigious computer networking jobs, the role of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is similar to the executive position of a CIO, but with an increased focus on the technological aspects of the organization rather than the business aspects. CTOs often work alongside CIOs, ensuring that the company’s business and technological goals are in alignment.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports conflicting projections regarding future job prospects for top executives such as Chief Technology Officers. Though jobs for general IT managers are expected to continue on an upward trend, opportunities for some executive positions are declining. Specifically, there will be approximately 16,800 job losses in these top management positions by the end of the decade, according to the Bureau.
The salaries for CTOs are comparable to that of CIOs, though they often work under the direction of Chief Information Officers. PayScale reports an average annual wage of just over $164,000 for these types of IT executives.
Average Salary: $164,172
Chief Information Officer (CIO)
If you’re looking for top-level computer networking jobs, the position of a Chief Information Officer, or CIO, should be on your radar. These upper-management executives are in charge of overseeing and implementing technology initiatives to meet the overall IT goals of a business or organization.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups the occupation of a CIO under the category of computer and information systems managers, citing growth predictions of 11% between the years 2020 and 2030. CIOs can expect to make more than the run-of-the-mill IT manager, though. According to PayScale, the average salary for a Chief Information Officer as of 2021 is just over $168,000.
As you might expect, to become a CIO, you’ll need more than just a computer networking degree. For this role, experience matters. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in computer networking or higher, you’ll need years—perhaps decades—of experience in information technology as well as management.
Average Salary: $168,280
For those drawn to the field of computer and information technology, computer networking jobs are exciting and potentially lucrative opportunities. Currently, computer networking careers are also appealing to individuals who value job security, since the IT field is experiencing rapid growth right now. If you’re wondering what can you do with a computer networking degree, you’ll be happy to know that your options are both numerous and promising. For those recent graduates still having a hard time deciding exactly how to apply their hard-earned computer networking degree, we recommend starting with the open entry-level positions associated with the highest job growth and salary potentials. Other factors to consider include location, work environment, and advancement opportunities.