Computer networking professionals help businesses set up and maintain the Internet, intranet and local area computer networks that allow them to function as companies. There are a few basic types of network operations professionals. Network architects create computer networks, while network support specialists help businesses maintain their networks. Network and computer systems administrators oversee the work of network support specialists. A career in network operations typically requires at least a bachelor's degree.
Network architects tend to be the most highly paid of all network operations workers. As of 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that network architects earned an average wage of $45.19 per hour and an average salary of $94,000 per year. Half of the network architects working in the United States reported annual salaries ranging from $69,470 to $115,320, and the highest-paid 10 percent made $141,590 or more per year.
Computer Network Support Specialists
Network support specialists brought home significantly less than network architects in 2012, according to the BLS. The average wage for a network support specialist was $30.27 per hour, and the average reported salary was $62,960 per year. The median-earning half of network support specialists earned between $44,530 and $76,450 per year, and the highest-paid 10 percent of network support specialists brought home $96,850 or more annually.
The network and computer systems administrators who oversee the work of network support specialists tend to earn a bit more money. This may be partly because becoming a network administrator typically requires a few years of related job experience, and because they are in positions of greater responsibility. Network administrators averaged $36.69 an hour and $76,320 per year as of 2012. Half of network administrators earned between $56,470 and $92,370 annually, while the top 10 percent made $115,180 or more per year.
Job Prospects Are Favorable
Businesses of all types rely heavily on computers to power their activities, and computers must be set up in reliable networks so that workers can communicate electronically with both their customers and one another. As a result, the work of network operations professionals will be in high demand in the coming decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 14 percent between 2010 and 2020. By comparison, jobs for network architects are expected to grow at a rate of 22 percent, while jobs for network administrators are projected to grow at an even faster rate of 28 percent.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Computer Network Architects
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Computer Network Support Specialists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Network and Computer Systems Administrators
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Network and Computer Systems Administrators
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects
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