Careers in Computer Networking & System Administration

Computers, information technology, and telecommunications have revolutionized the way we live and work. Jobs in the computer and telecom industry provide opportunities to work with the latest technology, and a great career choice for individuals with a technical aptitude.

Computer operators, system administrators, help desk representatives and information technology specialists often focus on helping businesses or end users to use technology more efficiently. Computer operators are responsible for running jobs and maintaining systems that are critical to business operations. System Administrators and IT specialists make sure that systems are available, optimized, and working properly, and help desk workers assist end users in configuration and operation of computer software and hardware.

Telecommunications experts and network engineers are responsible for the networks that businesses and consumers rely on. Workers in these fields often specialize in information security.

Programmers, developers, and testers create software, websites, and other applications. These can range from business productivity software to video games.

One exciting aspect of the information technology industry is that many positions in this field incorporate skills from different areas of computer science. For example, computer operators may need to know some programming; software developers may need to be familiar with network protocols; and system administrators must be well-versed in computer security.

Here we discussing about the career profiles which are most interesting, challenging and also rated in 6th position as Recession proof IT careers.

System and Network Administrator

A System & Network administrator oversees computer networks to ensure that they function smoothly. A network consists of a grouping of computers that communicate with each other or a central computer known as a server, on which computer files, programs, and other information are stored. A network may be as small as two or three computers or as large as the Internet, the world’s largest computer network.

Whereas a network technician or engineer designs and sets up the infrastructure for a computer network, a network administrator usually configures and manages an existing network. He or she may be responsible for customizing the network to an individual company’s needs by connecting the necessary hardware and software to the network. Once the network is configured, the administrator adds computer programs, such as e-mail, that the company’s employees use on a daily basis. A network administrator’s work usually depends on the size of the network for which he or she is responsible. The smaller the network, the more duties a network administrator handles. For large networks, several individuals may perform different tasks related to the network. The administrator then monitors the performance of the network and troubleshoots any problems such as slow performance or network crashes. A crash occurs when users cannot access the network or use all of its features properly. The administrator must also work with individual users who are having network problems that are not experienced by other users.

Some network problems may result in the loss or corruption of data stored on the server. For this reason, the administrator must develop, install, and maintain emergency systems to back up the main network server. Administrators keep records of all users’ problems and errors as well as the steps taken to solve the problems. This information is used to help solve future problems.

Administrators also control user access to the network. This includes setting up passwords for individual users and determining which files, programs, or features each person is allowed to use. The administrator must also create a firewall—a set of security measures designed to make sure that no one can gain unauthorized access to the system. In larger firms this task may fall to a network security specialist. Network security also involves monitoring the network to see who is using it and how. A security specialist is responsible for changing passwords periodically and updating security measures and procedures.

A network administrator installs the necessary hardware and software to set up a computer network, and customizes it to meet the needs of the company using it. (

Education and Training Requirements

Administrators should be familiar with a variety of network operating systems, including Microsoft, Linux and Unix. Because computer technology changes rapidly, administrators must constantly upgrade their knowledge base.

Several companies that produce network software also offer training and certification in network administration. For instance, network Operating system vendor Microsoft offers a Microsoft Certified System Engineer(MCSE)/ Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS)/ Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification for administrators who pass their training courses through authorized training centers.  A company that hires a network administrator from outside will almost certainly requires such certification or proof of experience in administering a network successfully.

Network administration requires good organizational and logical thinking skills, both to set up and administer a network and to diagnose and solve problems. Administrators must be able to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines when required. Because they may have to work with users who have little or no technical knowledge, they must be able to communicate complex and unfamiliar ideas easily.



Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Network administrators may advance into network engineering, in which they design networks from the ground up based on a company’s needs and priorities. They may also branch out into other areas of computing such as programming, systems analysis (determining how well computer systems are operating and designing ways to improve their performance), and software engineering. Computer networks are becoming a standard part of most medium-to-large firms, and even of many smaller ones.

Working Conditions

Network administrators, like other computer professionals, work in an office environment. Most put in forty hours or more of work per week. Much of the job is performed alone, but the administrator must also work with users who are not comfortable with the system or who are experiencing difficulties. Configuring a network can require long hours of work over a short period of time. Maintaining the network can alternate between routine tasks such as installing and updating programs and the more interesting but hectic work of troubleshooting and fixing network problems. If a network crashes, the administrator must work as quickly as possible, regardless of the hour, to solve the problem and restore the network to operation.

Computer Network Technician/ Network Engineer/ LAN & WAN Engineer

Computer network technicians build and maintain computer networks used by business, education, government, and health-care institutions. Networks linking desktop computers allow users to send electronic mail (e-mail) and to share data, computer applications, and Internet connections. As more institutions establish computer networks, the demand for skilled computer network technicians will grow.

Computer network technicians, which are also known as computer network engineers or network specialists, must know current standards and terminology used for local area networks (LANs) and larger wide area networks (WANs). They often help plan their employers’ computer networks and then implement the planned networks. Most commonly, network technicians administer existing computer networks and troubleshoot problems as they arise.

Planning a computer network entails analyzing costs and needs of a company and then selecting the appropriate media (e.g., twisted-pair copper wire, coaxial cable, fiber-optic cable, wireless) for a given situation. Computer network technicians may also recommend appropriate network addressing systems, appropriate layouts for various network configurations, and appropriate connection devices.

Implementing a computer network entails designing and following administrative plans to meet specific needs such as account management and security. Much of the work involved in implementing a network consists of installing, configuring, and resolving conflicts among different hardware used in the network, such as network adapters.

Administering and troubleshooting a network entails identifying and resolving network performance problems. Technicians identify problems common to Computer network technicians plan or design, implement, and troubleshoot computer networks for businesses and other institutions. Components of the network, such as cards, cables, and other related hardware. They also establish disaster recovery plans for various situations if the network were to malfunction.

In addition to knowing relevant computer and networking terminology, protocols, and hardware, computer network technicians must have mastered necessary software, including different operating systems such as Linux, Unix and Windows. They must also understand basic network architecture models such as peer-to-peer and client-server.

Computer network technicians need self-discipline and the ability to balance a variety of tasks. A technician must be able to spend long hours at a keyboard debugging a program and be dexterous and patient enough to weave a complex web of wires.

Because network technicians often provide technical support to network users, they must be able to help nontechnical people understand and use complex equipment and software. In addition to technical expertise, employers often require network technicians to excel in verbal and written communication and to have good interpersonal skills.

Education and Training Requirements

People Interested in Networking Careers needs some vendor specific training beyond their college and high school. Network Device Manufacturer Vendor offers variety of certifications, Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) , Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) ..etc to the professionals who pass their training courses through authorized training centers.  A company that hires a network administrator from outside will almost certainly requires such certification or proof of experience in administering a network successfully.

Computer Security Specialist

As computer networks grow and more sensitive data is stored on computer files, the need for trained, skilled computer security specialists will also grow. Computer security specialists help businesses, educational institutions, and government organizations to control access to their computer networks and protect important data stored there. This is accomplished through a variety of means.

Computer security specialists, who are also known as information security specialists, design and implement network control mechanisms that serve to control users’ access to a computer network through such processes as firewalls. Computer security specialists also implement application access controls, such as password authentication, that keep unauthorized users from accessing a particular computer or network or program. Computer security specialists take steps to deny hackers access to a system and set up programs that detect hackers who do intrude onto a system. Computer security specialists also may be responsible for controlling site-specific physical access to computers.

Computer security specialist work with employees at all levels of an organization. Managers communicate the organization’s needs to computer security specialists. Management and security specialist then work together to balance the organization’s security needs with the security system’s ease of use. Computer security specialists also communicate procedures and passwords to users of the systems. This entails keeping up-to-date lists of users and passwords as well as helping workers who have forgotten passwords or accidentally violated security procedures. Computer security specialists monitor who is using a computer network. They also send reports of use to various members of the organization for verification. Finally, computer security specialists are responsible for keeping accurate and up-to-date backup files of all important data shared on a computer network.

Computer security specialists help control access to computer systems. They design and implement mechanisms and programs that deny access to hackers and other unauthorized users

Education and Training Requirements

People interested in work as computer security specialists need some training beyond high school. A bachelor’s degree in computer science is highly recommended. Computer security specialists must be familiar with a variety of networking technologies, such as TCP/IP, Windows 2003/2008. Linux and Unix. They must have a thorough understanding of computer programming, and they should be trained in risk management. Computer security specialists must also be able to communicate technical information clearly and concisely.

The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, a nonprofit corporation, awards a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) accreditation to individuals who pass an exam on computer security procedures. Such accreditations improve a potential employee’s prospects greatly.

Getting the Job

Trained computer security specialists are hired by corporations and institutions needing their services and by independent consulting firms. Jobs are posted on the Internet by groups such as the Computer Security Institute (CSI) and the Information Systems Auditing and Control Association (ISACA). Positions also are advertised in trade publications.

Computer Support Specialist/ Helpdesk Support Engineer

Computer support specialists help people with computer problems. Some computer support specialists called help-desk technicians field phone calls or e- mails or make house calls for people who are having difficulty with a particular piece of computer hardware or software. Most of these people who need help have no technical expertise. The support specialist asks the user to describe the problem as well as the commands that were entered or steps taken that led up to the problem. The support specialist may then repeat those steps on his or her own computer to try to duplicate the problem. If the problem was caused by user error, the specialist explains how the problem occurred and how to fix it. If the problem is due to a fault with the software or hardware, the specialist tries to determine the cause of the problem. This may require consulting with supervisors or computer programmers. Once the cause of the problem has been determined, the specialist walks the user through the steps required to fix it.

Other computer support specialists known as technical support specialists provide support to people in the information processing department of a company. In addition to troubleshooting problems, they may be responsible for the operation of the company’s computer systems. They may assign work to employees in the department and determine the priorities of various tasks. They may look over computer programs to make sure they are installed properly and are compatible with existing programs. They may look over projects to make sure they are completed properly and meet the company’s goals. They may also evaluate computer systems to see if they need to be expanded or upgraded. Technical support specialists may also modify software produced by other computer firms to meet the needs of the company.

Still other support specialists specialize in setting up computer systems that are delivered to customers. This includes installing the operating system (the program that tells the computer how to run software programs loaded onto it) and any software the client will need. The support specialist may also train personnel at the client’s office to use the computer system and answer questions about getting started with the system. A support specialist may be assigned to user support for a particular client, taking all calls from that client to resolve problems that arise.

All computer support positions require strong analytical thinking and problem- solving abilities. Support specialists must write technical reports about the problems they encounter. Computer programmers use these reports to modify existing products or to help avoid similar problems when designing new products. Support specialists must deal with both inexperienced users and computer- savvy programmers or software designers. They must be able to reduce technical information to simple language.





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