Career Profile: Network Technician
Nearly everything has a computer in it these days, from homes to businesses, and with the growing Internet of Things connecting devices to each other, the design and maintenance of computer networks is more important than ever.
Computer network technicians are professionals who set up, operate, and maintain both local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs) that allow computers and other electronic devices to communicate with one another. They are also knowledgeable about the hardware and software used to run a network, and the tools and equipment used to complete the work.
Network technicians know how to set up and maintain Internet and intranet websites, monitor and optimize network traffic, and troubleshoot problems with networks and computer devices. They can also be familiar with how to assess a computer network for security, determine what security solutions should be put in place, and installing software and hardware to protect networks from cyberattacks.
To work as a network technician, you will need a college degree from a computer related program such as computer science, network administration, or web technology. There are also software-specific and vendor-specific training programs that may be required, such as learning certain computer programming languages, pursuing certification in software such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX or Linux, or taking independent networking courses such as the Cisco Networking Academy.
Apprenticeships aren’t common for network technicians, though on occasion you may come across the opportunity for one. It is more likely that you will have a co-op opportunity through your college program to get some work experience alongside your schooling. Finding a senior employee willing to act as your mentor when you first enter the workforce can be very helpful in ensuring you learn the job and gain all the knowledge you need.
Most network technicians work for individual companies as part of their IT support department, or as part of a technical support company that serves multiple businesses. Network technicians can also work for telecommunications companies and help set up and maintain network technology for customers.
Wages for network technicians range from an average of $18 per hour for a beginner, up to around $60 per hour for an experienced technician. This means network technicians earn a yearly salary of approximately $30,000 to $70,000, depending on experience and the province in which they work.
The hours a network technician works can vary depending on the position and company. If you work for a business and perform network support services on-site, you will likely work the same regular business hours as other employees, such as daily from 8am to 5pm. However, if you work for an IT support services company that offers remote assistance, you may be responsible for actioning support requests late at night, on weekends, and holidays, depending on the job requirements.