Have you seen the latest job outlook for computer networking careers? So many of these occupations are booming right now, as we move further and further into digital dependency.
There are very few businesses who don't rely on computers—and specifically, computer network technology—for everyday operations.
From governments to private corporations, start-ups to medium-sized businesses: networking is the new normal.
The problem is, as our digital networks grow more complex, they become much harder to setup, maintain, protect, and enhance.
The average person has little (or no) understanding of how their personal computer functions, never mind the interconnected web of devices, software, and applications they use at work every day.
This problem of sophisticated technology has created a world of opportunity in the field of IT. Businesses need skilled, savvy IT specialists to maintain and secure the networks they rely on so completely.
For many companies, well-functioning networks equal dollars and growth. And they need computer network technicians to keep things running smoothly.
This is what's lead to a very strong demand for technicians across Ontario (and throughout the country). Just take a look at this stellar job outlook report from the Government of Canada Job Bank:
So, if you're thinking of starting a career in this field, you're definitely on the right track. However, you'll need a specific blend of hard and soft skills to do well in training, and land a great job.
What's the profile of a successful computer network technician? Here are 7 skills you can't do without.
1. Solid Technical Knowledge, Proven with Globally Recognized Certifications
This goes without saying, but thorough knowledge of computer hardware, software, operating systems, network infrastructure, and security are prerequisites for work in this field.
The way most employers will verify your skills is by confirming you've completed quality training and industry-standard IT certifications—such as COMPTIA (A+, Net+, and Linux+), MCP, MCTS, MCSA, MCSE, and CCNA.
You should expect your computer networking training to include preparation for these certifications. In addition to your diploma, you'll need to complete examinations to earn these certificates, and become a solid contender for good entry-level networking positions.
2. Advanced troubleshooting skills
One of your top jobs as a network technician will be solving problems. These problems can range from a forgotten password or non-responsive printer to a network-wide security threat.
Whether you're dealing with a virus, or walking a client through a routine software setup, you'll need to be patient, thorough, and cool under pressure.
Successful network technicians are great at walking through bugs and technical issues step-by-step, rooting out the problem and finding the best possible fix.
They're natural born solvers. They don't give up until a resolution is found, and the user or client is completely happy.
3. Customer Service and "People" skills
When an employee or customer can't login to the company network, or has a hardware or connectivity problem, who do they call? The network technician.
It's your job to figure out what's wrong, and carefully walk the user through a solution. This might happen online or in person—but either way, demands excellent customer service and people skills.
Sometimes this means dealing with someone who's in the middle of a meltdown. Or someone who has very little technical knowledge, and needs you to explain even the simplest steps very s-l-o-w-l-y.
Sometimes you're just running a routine training seminar. Regardless of the situation, you'll need to respond politely, professionally, and establish some rapport with your audience.
A big part of this skill is knowing how to break down complex IT concepts and terms into simple language. And not making the user feel silly because they forgot to plug in their monitor.
Remember: We look to the IT gurus for help and guidance—not to be judged for our complete (and obvious) lack of tech savvy!
4. Curiosity & Continued Learning
Consider how far networking has come over the last decade. Now imagine where the technology might be 10-20 years from now. How will you keep up, and continue to provide value to your employer?
It's all about staying curious and continuing to learn new skills. You'll need to be genuinely interested in networking trends, new tech, and the challenges your employer or clients are facing.
And then, you'll need to act on those trends by earning new certifications, upgrading your skills, and expanding your technical knowledge base.
Successful network technicians and administrators are always hungry to learn more.
What are some of the biggest trends coming down the pipeline right now? According to a survey by Cisco, networking professionals have their eyes on developments in several areas, including:
- "Green" IT (networking solutions that conserve energy)
- Cybersecurity and risk management
- Video networking (real-time video solutions for increasingly mobile and global workforces)
5. Cybersecurity Expertise
We mentioned security already, but it's worth highlighting separately as a key skill, because of the skyrocketing demand for expertise in this area.
According to the Cybersecurity Jobs Report 2018-2021, 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs will be ripe for the taking over the next 5 years.
But the way things stand now, there won't be enough skilled IT professionals to fill those roles. In fact, we're looking at a global shortage of 2 million IT security specialists by 2019.
The takeaway? If you combine your networking skills with security and risk management expertise, you will be in a very good position to claim a higher salary, and qualify for more top networking jobs.
6. Flexibility & Adaptability
Networks never sleep—which means technicians and administrators often work irregular hours, or are on call to deal with emergencies.
In this field, you may have to deal with shift work, or at the very least, expect calls after hours and on weekends, when problems crop up.
The higher up you climb in the chain of command, the more responsible you'll be for quickly resolving any network issues that compromise productivity or security. You'll need to be flexible, adaptable, and ready for action when the boss calls.
7. Team Work
IT professionals rarely work in total isolation. And if you pursue a network technician career, you'll be constantly interacting with colleagues, clients, and end-users.
Whether you're mapping out a new network installation, training a new user, or troubleshooting a technical difficulty, you'll be collaborating with other people.
Be prepared to take criticism, contribute ideas, and learn from supervisors with more experience than you. Networking is, by definition, a team sport.
think network technician training is the right move for you?
Your next step is to research quality network technician programs in your area.
We've got you covered. Choose one of the following options to learn about diplomas, certifications, careers, admission requirements—and any available scholarships or financial aid for networking students:
- Scroll up and fill out the Request Information form at the top, right of this screen. Get fast, free information about Herzing's Computer Networking Technology diploma.
- Click here to visit the Computer Networking Technology program page. Browse courses, admission requirements, graduate employment rates—or chat live right now with a knowledgeable advisor.
- Call the Ottawa campus directly at 1-613-742-8099. Get your questions answered, book a personal advising appointment, and map out your next steps. We're here to help!