Are you a natural problem solver with a knack for technology? Do you enjoy taking things apart to understand how they work? Are you the person family and friends turn to for help with computer stuff?
Then a career in computer networking might be for you!
Computer networking is an in-demand field with many entry points and opportunities for promotion. Many people enter the field as a computer support specialist, troubleshooting network problems and sometimes staffing IT help desks; these positions often do not require a college degree. Some use this as a launchpad for an eventual career as a network and computer systems administrator or a computer network architect.
A PATHWAY TO JUMPSTART YOUR CAREER IN NETWORKING... AND BEYOND
Whether you go to college right after graduation, a few years later, or decide not to go, you can be career-ready and positioned for success. That’s why we offer career pathways that maximize your options for life after high school.
Here’s how our Networking Pathway prepares you for a bright future, whether or not you decide to go to college.
First, we offer a rigorous, project-based learning curriculum designed to hone your problem-solving, communication, critical thinking, and team collaboration skills. This curriculum is taught by experienced IT professionals and includes a foundation in computer science principles and two semesters of in-depth computer networking study.
Second, our curriculum prepares you to take the exams for the necessary credentials to embark on a career as computer support specialist right after graduation, making upwards of $40,000 per year††—without the hassle or expense of additional training or degrees. The tuition-free program includes exam prep for the NOCTI Computer Networking Fundamentals certification exam, a highly regarded industry credential. We also jumpstart your job search by helping you create a professional résumé, cover letter, and profile on Tallo—the leading professional networking platform for Gen Z. Plus, you connect virtually to IT professionals through Nepris.*
Third, our program positions you to go even further in the computer networking field. You could continue to work as computer support specialist, or you could gain additional certifications after a few years of on-the-job training to become a network and computer systems administrator or computer network architect. Or you might opt to earn a bachelor’s degree and become a computer systems analyst earning a starting salary of upwards of $70,000 per year! †† No matter which path you choose, this pathway provides an excellent foundation in computer networking and serves as a springboard for success.
OUR NETWORKING CURRICULUM IN DETAIL
All of our students take the core courses required for high school graduation in their state. The chart below shows the additional classes you’ll take as a Networking Pathway student, and the industry-recognized certification exams you can prepare to take. You can see the rest of the curriculum by viewing the full course list.
Network and Computer System Administrator
Network and computer systems administrators install, manage, and support their employers’ computer networks, hardware, and software. They made necessary upgrades or repairs, evaluate and optimize network performance, manage user accounts and permissions, and train users.
Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree; some may enter the profession by working their way up as a computer support specialist
Computer Support Specialist
Computer network support specialists, also called technical support specialists, analyze, troubleshoot, and evaluate computer network problems. They play an important role in the routine maintenance of their organization’s networks, such as performing file backups on the network. They may also staff help desks that document and resolve users’ IT-related issues.
Typical Entry-Level Education: Certification such as NOCTI Computer Networking Fundamentals
Computer Network Architect
Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets.
Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree, or multiple years of experience in IT roles such as computer support specialist plus relevant certifications
Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts research and recommend IT solutions to optimize their employers’ business performance; present the business case (including an analysis of the cost effectiveness) for adopting different solutions to senior executives; and then work with computer programmers and architects to purchase, install, build or customize selected IT solutions and then deploy them effectively and efficiently.
Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do you need a college degree to get a job as a network and computer systems administrator?
Most network and computer systems administrators have college degrees, although some may enter the field without a degree after several years as a successful computer support specialist.
Can I get a job in computer networking without a college degree?
The first step on the computer networking career ladder is a job as a computer support specialist, and a college degree is not required for that role. It is helpful, however, to have relevant certifications, such as the NOCTI Computer Networking Fundamentals certification, as well as relevant coursework and experience.
Our Networking Pathway is excellent preparation for entering the workforce as a computer support specialist, and we’ll help prepare you to take the NOCTI Computer Networking Fundamentals certification exam. Membership to Business Professionals of America (BPA) is included in our tuition-free program.* BPA sponsors competitions in computer networking; winning one of these competitions would certainly bolster your résumé!
Most network and computer systems administrators have college degrees, although some may enter the field without a degree after several years on the job in an entry level IT position.
Computer network architects typically have bachelor’s degree, but some may enter the field through a combination of significant work experience and relevant industry certifications.
Computer systems analysts have bachelor’s degrees.
How can I prepare for a career in computer networking while still in high school? What classes should I take?
Our Networking Pathway students take computer science, computer literacy, and two semesters of networking. We also prepare students to take the NOCTI Computer Networking certification exam and include membership to Business Professionals of America,* which sponsors résumé-building networking competitions and offers opportunities for professional networking and scholarships.
††Burning Glass Labor Insights, accessed October 19, 2020. Data is median salary for job postings with that job title, with typical minimum education requirements for that job title (as shown in chart on this page) and 0-2 years of experience, from October 1, 2019, to September 20, 2020. (For software developer, data includes two professions: Software Developer, Applications, and Software Developer, Systems Software).
†††Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook. Website last modified date: Wednesday, September 1, 2020.