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Network specialists design, install, maintain and troubleshoot computer networks. To become a network specialist, you’ll generally need a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science or a related area. There is a demand for computer network specialists, so some employers will accept applicants who have an associate's degree and several years of applicable experience in lieu of a bachelor’s degree. Others might accept a high school diploma if you also have very extensive experience.
Vendor-specific certificates that show you are competent in the computer systems being used by an employer might be required. As examples, Microsoft, Cisco, Novell and other companies offer networking certifications in installing and configuring their products. Information technology certifications from vendor-neutral organizations that demonstrate your network expertise might also be required. Even if such certifications are not required, they can help your résumé stand out when applying for positions. The information technology organization CompTIA provides several levels of certifications, from basic networking to network infrastructure and security, for example.
To gain experience in computers and networking during high school, you can take all of the computer classes offered by your school. Summer computer camps for teenagers and children provide technology learning in a fun and creative environment and are offered in many areas. Working in a part-time computer-related job while in high school can help you when it comes time to apply to colleges, or if you are seeking an entry-level position in computer networking based on experience alone. The more computer education and experience you can gain prior to entering the job market, the easier it can be to become a network specialist.
When seeking employment in an organization’s information technology department, try to have the knowledge and experience on your résumé and in your cover letter targeted to the requirements of the advertised job. Be as specific as possible about the computer systems and technologies with which you are familiar. If you don’t have a degree to highlight, list the applicable computer classes that you have taken.
Other qualities that will help you become a network specialist include strong problem-solving and analytical skills to discover the causes of problems. Being a good communicator and having a service orientation will help you work effectively with end users. Network specialists sometimes have to update related computer documentation, so having writing ability is helpful. Sometimes specialists working with large computer networks are expected to travel, so being willing to travel might be required. Knowing other languages also can be helpful if you want to become a network specialist for an international company.
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