For recent graduates searching 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. This includes many computer networking careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is a 15% increase in IT jobs expected between the years 2021 and 2031. This will result in over 682,800 new jobs for qualified applicants in the information technology field, including the networking industry. This is good news for professionals with a computer networking degree. It means they can pursue in-demand positions in the industry. These include network support specialists, network architects, information security analysts, database administrators, and network administrators. Our editors identify ten of the top computer networking jobs in this article. We provide detailed information on each occupation. This includes job growth projections, education and training requirements, and salary expectations.
The Top 10 Computer Networking Jobs for 2023
As you peruse this list of the best computer networking careers for 2023, be advised that these occupations were hand-picked by our editors. Our selections are based on specific characteristics. These include 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
Computer network support specialists are sometimes called technical support specialists. They are responsible for maintaining and repairing computer networks. They do so on behalf of a business or organization. Their day-to-day tasks may vary. They may include:
- testing computer networks for optimal performance
- troubleshooting network issues
- assisting network users as problems occur
These types of networking jobs are often performed under the direction of a database administrator or wireless network and systems administrator. They may also work alongside a network programmer.
The role of a wireless network support specialist is one of our entry-level networking careers. Thus, the pay is on the low end of the spectrum for computer and IT positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for network support specialists was $62,760 in 2021. There is the opportunity to earn more. 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 13,800 new jobs for these network specialists over the next eight years.
Some educational requirements are usually mandated to become a wireless network support specialist. This includes a computer networking or data science 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: $62,760
Wireless Network Administrator/ Computer Systems Administrator
One of the most common networking positions is the occupation of a network and computer systems administrator. These trained IT professionals are responsible for a business or organization’s computer systems. This includes installing and maintaining wireless networks like local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). Specific responsibilities include:
- Ensure optimal network performance and computer systems performance according to network protocols
- Install upgrades and perform repairs as necessary
- Provide approved users with training for computer hardware and software as well as cloud computing services
- Address problems and security concerns related to computer networks and systems
- Uphold industry best practices
Network administrators and computer systems administrators may work closely with other IT professionals. This includes those in related careers. Examples are network programmers, network engineers, network architects, database administrators, and computer support specialists.
This is not an entry-level position. Instead, the occupation of a network administrator or 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 $80,600 per year on average. That’s more than twice the median annual wage for the average job in the United States. Plus, a network administrator can earn as much as $130,830 annually.
You’ll likely need to enroll in a degree program to become a network and computer systems administrator. Look for one that culminates in a bachelor’s degree. Some of these professionals major in a closely related field. Examples include:
- computer science
- computer engineering
- electrical engineering
For some jobs, candidates may also need a professional certificate or license in networking. Examples include 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: $80,600
Computer Systems Analyst
If you’re still wondering what you can 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 IT. They do so by designing systems to meet an organization’s business needs. They may also do some or all the following tasks:
- Conducting cost-benefit analyses on technological solutions
- Testing existing networks as well as new systems and upgrades
- Creating instruction manuals and other training materials
- Advise corporate executives on decisions about technological processes
Systems analysts are some of the best-paid positions in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these professionals in the IT industry made nearly $100,000 on average in the year 2021. Top earners in this occupation earned more than $158,000 that same year.
A networking degree, like a bachelor’s degree, is usually preferred for positions as systems analysts. But degrees in related fields like computer science, mathematics, or even business are sometimes enough. To maintain their positions and learn new technical skills, computer systems analysts must devote themselves to continuous professional development. This is because technological advancements in the field continue to evolve.
Average Salary: $99,270
Management Information Systems (MIS) Director
Among some of the upper-level jobs highlighted in our ranking is the position of management information systems (MIS) director. These IT specialists oversee how businesses use technology and info systems. Their goal is to collect, store, share, and use information. MIS directors also supervise and oversee other IT professionals in their departments. This may include analysts, technicians, and managers.
A directorship is a high-level role with great responsibility. Thus, management info systems directors’ education and training requirements can be quite rigorous. Often, a candidate may need a degree at the master’s level to show a deep understanding of the field. They might also need five or more years of experience in an IT role.
However, there are some significant job perks for those who qualify for these positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for computer and info systems managers such as MIS directors are growing rapidly. Over 82,000 new jobs will become available over the next eight years. Once hired, these types of IT directors can expect to make a six-figure salary. That’s according to PayScale.
Average Salary: $159,010
Information Security Analyst
Some IT professionals assume roles as information security analysts. These types of analysts develop and install security measures. This is 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 like hacking attempts
- Creating and implementing network security protocols
Information and network security analysis is one of the most attractive careers for computer networking professionals. That’s 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 35% by the decade’s end. Thus growth will create over 56,000 new jobs for information and network security analysts. These are well-paid positions, too, with the average salary for these IT specialists exceeding $102,000 annually.
Network security analyst is a coveted position in IT. Thus, the hiring process is competitive. Candidates with advanced computer networking degrees will have the best prospects. Examples include a master’s in computer and information technology or an MBA with a concentration in info systems or network security. Employers often prefer that new info security analysts also have prior experience in an IT role. Many ask for special certifications.
Average Salary: $102,600
IT Security Managers
The job of an information security manager calls for business acumen. It also demands a strong foundation in computer technology. These IT professionals are sometimes given the job title of network security administrator. They are tasked with the challenging and pertinent task of keeping computer networks safe from outside threats. Possible threats include data breaches and hackers. They must also manage and supervise other information technology personnel. This may include computer networking professionals such as:
- info security analysts
- network security engineer
- computer network support specialist
The role of an info security manager or network security administrator is one of those computer networking careers that call for years of experience. The required number of years may vary by employer. Still, this experience should be in a position related to network security.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment for IT security managers will continue to grow faster than average alongside other computer and information systems managers. Positions for these types of IT managers are associated with higher-than-average salaries, too. PayScale reports typical wages exceeding $118,000 annually.
Average Salary: $118,355
Computer Network Architect
The position of a computer network architect is one of the most prestigious jobs and highest-paying jobs in the industry. Also known as wireless network engineers, these top-level IT professionals are responsible for constructing complex networks. This could include:
- designing network systems
- data communication networks
- wide area networks (WANs)
- local area networks (LANs)
Wireless network engineers or computer network architects are typically tasked with other responsibilities. The job description may include:
- Planning and designing efficient systems that meet clients’ needs
- Ensuring network security and wireless protocols
- Installing network equipment and upgrades to existing computer hardware and software, including automation software
- Delivering presentations to clients about plans for network systems
- Troubleshooting network issues and data communication networks
- Working with other IT professionals
Computer network architects and wireless network engineers are well-compensated for their work. They routinely make six-figure salaries. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual wage for network architects to be over $120,000 as of 2021. Some of the top earners in this occupation make an average yearly salary of more than $168,000. This makes network architects some of the highest-paying jobs in the field.
To work as a computer 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: $120,520
Computer and Information Systems Manager
This is one of the faster-growing jobs in our ranking. A computer and information systems manager position requires at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. These are senior-level professionals. Thus, work experience is often required alongside a degree. Many computer and info systems managers hold advanced degrees as well.
These professionals are sometimes referred to as IT managers. That’s because they are often in charge of an organization’s IT goals and protocols. They may also be referred to as computer systems administrators. Their job description includes duties such as:
- Consult with executives about the organization’s IT goals, recommending possible technology solutions
- Weigh the pros and cons of new technological innovations and initiatives within the company
- Use technical skills to 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, such as the network security engineer, network administrator, wireless network engineer, database administrator, network programmer, and computer systems administrators
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and info systems managers are currently in high demand. These computer networking jobs are expected to grow by 16% over the next decade. That’s much faster than the average. This will result in more than 82,000 new positions for qualified candidates. Once hired on, these IT managers will earn handsome wages. The BLS reports median salaries of over $159,000, with top earners making an average yearly salary of more than $208,000. That also makes it one of the highest-paying jobs in the networking field.
Average Salary: $159,010
Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
The job description of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is somewhat like the executive position of a CIO. But it includes an increased focus on the technological aspects of the organization rather than the business aspects. CTOs often work alongside CIOs. They ensure that the company’s business and technology goals are in alignment.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports conflicting projections about future job prospects for top executives such as Chief Technology Officers. Jobs for general IT managers are expected to continue on an upward trend. Still, opportunities for some executive positions are declining. Specifically, there will be approximately 20,600 job losses in these top management positions by the end of the decade. That’s 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 $170,000 for these types of IT executives.
Average Salary: $170,750
Chief Information Officer (CIO)
Chief Information Officers, or CIOs, are upper-management executives. These are some of the highest-paying jobs in the industry. CIOs are in charge of overseeing and implementing technology initiatives. This is 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. The Bureau cites growth predictions of 16% between the years 2021 and 2031. CIOs can expect to make more than the run-of-the-mill IT manager, though. According to the Bureau, the average salary for a Chief Information Officer is just over $159,000.
As you might expect, you’ll need more than just a degree to become a CIO. For this role, experience matters. Aside from a bachelor’s degree in computer networking or higher, you’ll need years—perhaps decades—of experience in information technology and management.
Average Salary: $159,010
Are you drawn to the computer networking industry? Then, there are exciting and potentially lucrative opportunities for you. Currently, computer networking careers are also appealing to individuals who value job security. The IT field is experiencing rapid growth right now. Wondering what can you do with a networking degree? You’ll be happy to know that your options in the networking field are promising. For those recent graduates still having difficulty deciding exactly how to apply their hard-earned degree, we recommend starting with the open entry-level positions. Focus on those associated with the highest job growth and salary potential. Other factors to consider include location, work environment, and advancement opportunities.
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