Network Administrator Careers: What is a Computer Network Consultant?

So, you're considering network administrator training and thinking ahead to your career options after graduation.

Will you pursue a specialization in security? Do you want a more hands-on role as a network technician? What other network administrator jobs are open to you?

In this post, we explore the role of Network Consultant—a popular network admin position found across all industries, including IT service providers, government, finance, and telecommunications.

We'll break down what a network consultant does, how to get started on this path, and some of the typical pros and cons of the trade. Let's get started.

 

What Does a Network Consultant Do?

Network consultants are responsible for designing, setting up, maintaining, and securing computer networks. They help establish new networks, and provide expertise on how to improve the performance and security of existing systems.

Consultants usually work with in-house managers, or company clients, to serve their networking needs. They might be asked to expand an existing network, develop a solution for a new product or project, or handle an emergency situation.

In each case, consultants propose a plan that fits technical needs while staying on budget. If the plan is accepted, they implement or oversee installation, testing, and ongoing maintenance.

Consultants work for any organization large enough to rely on a computer network, and for service provides who offer networking support to other companies.

 

Typical Responsibilities of Network Consultants

Network consultants often start out as support specialists/technicians, where they hone installation, analysis and troubleshooting skills. After gaining a few years of experience, they move in network administrator positions, or junior consultant roles. Common responsibilities for senior consultants include:

  • hardware and software installation
  • disaster recovery
  • server planning and procurement
  • setup and configuration of wireless networking devices
  • maintaining, monitoring, and troubleshooting systems
  • maintaining documents for IT infrastructure
  • preparing user manuals
  • providing technical support to clients (and/or the internal team)
  • ensuring compliance with relevant security policies and practices

Many consultants work remotely, and some are self-employed (work on contract for different companies). Many jobs require travel (to support clients), and often include working outside of regular hours.

Common stresses associated with network consulting include meeting tight deadlines, dealing with emergencies, working with demanding clients, and keeping up with new technology.

Like many network admin careers, this role requires continuous learning, and regular certification upgrades. You'll need to stay on top of industry trends to deliver the most recent and effective networking, hardware, software, and security solutions to clients.

 

Top Technical Skills for Network Consultants

To pursue a successful career as a network consultant, you'll need to develop a range of hard and soft skills. It takes more than technical knowledge and experience to excel in consulting. This role has a strong communications focus, and usually requires:

  • excellent customer service skills
  • strong command of written and spoken English
  • good interpersonal skills (able to work well with a team)
  • skilled at guiding others through complex technical concepts

On the technical side, job listings for network consultants often highlight the following competencies:

  • good working knowledge of Microsoft Operating Systems, Cisco IOS, Linux CLI, network protocols
  • understanding of switches, firewalls and routers
  • experience troubleshooting of all types of PC and related IT equipment 
  • data security, intrusion detection, data recovery, and containment of virus/spyware/malware outbreaks

You'll see additional or different skills depending on the exact nature of the role and the specific needs of the company.

In some cases, you'll need to pass a criminal record check, and take a technical exam to verify you posses the right skills for the job.

 

Getting started with Computer Networking Training

If you want to start a career in network administration, your first step is selecting a quality training program. If you would prefer to avoid years of university training, you might want to consider a college diploma program.

Many networking technology diplomas can be completed in 1-2 years, depending on the pace and format of the training.

Take a look at the Computer Networking Technology Training offered by Herzing College Toronto.

This diploma program takes just 14 months to complete, includes a 6-week internship, and prepares students for several important networking certifications.

Click below to see a complete list of courses, admission information, career options, or chat live with an Admissions Advisor. Find out if this program is right for you.

Explore the Computer Networking Technology Program

 

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