Network Specialist Job Description

Network Specialists manage networks to ensure they function efficiently. Tasks such as collecting network performance data, monitoring network security, troubleshooting issues, anticipating problems and performing routine maintenance are commonplace for these IT professionals.

Network Specialists can locate job opportunities in a variety of companies and businesses — large, medium and small. Demand for Network Specialists is expected to increase 8 percent through 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, with more than 30,000 job openings each year. These job openings will result from the increase in cloud services that will be adopted by businesses who don’t have dedicated IT departments within their organizations.

 

Network Specialist Duties and Responsibilities

To accomplish their core functions of maintaining software and hardware, monitoring systems for glitches or disturbances, analyzing technical issues and developing solutions,

Network Specialists carry out a variety of tasks. We examined a number of job listings to determine these main Network Specialist duties and responsibilities.

Establishing the Network

Network Specialists establish network specifications by consulting with end-users. They also analyze workflow and security requirements and design router administration. In addition, they look at network performance issues such as availability, latency, utilization and throughput. Installing, configuring and testing equipment, establishing connections and firewalls and defining the policies and procedures of the network are also key duties in this area.

Maintaining the Network

Once the network is established, it’s expected that a Network Specialist maintains it. Network monitoring and analysis are core duties in this area. Troubleshooting network problems and ultimately enhancing performance for users via performance tuning are other essential responsibilities of a Network Specialist.  All issues that cannot be solved on the Network Specialist’s end must be referred to the vendor.

Securing the Network

Network security is one of the most important duties of Network Specialists. They implement secure network access protocols and then monitor and evaluate them for issues. Good documentation and record keeping skills are essential. They also prepare users to utilize the network safely by conducting relevant training sessions and providing helpful references and easily accessible support.

Upgrading the Network

Additional responsibilities of Network Specialists are to upgrade the network. Upgrades are performed by consulting with vendors about products to determine which ones would be best to purchase. They also test, evaluate and install network enhancements to ensure that they are the best choices.

Updating Job Knowledge

Although Network Specialists are responsible for many duties, they must also keep updated on knowledge in their field of expertise. They must participate in relevant educational opportunities such as live classes and webinars, read professional publications, network with other professionals and maintain active memberships in professional organizations.

 

Network Specialist Skills

Successful Network Specialists must not only be well-versed in the ins-and-outs of networks — they also have to be suited to work under pressure when networks go down. They are excellent at both deductive and inductive reasoning and are able to make sound decisions within a short period of time. Besides these general skills and personality traits, employers are seeking Network Specialist candidates who can demonstrate the following skills:

  • Determining how a system should work efficiently and evaluating how any changes to the conditions, operations or environment will affect system outcomes
  • Identifying in-depth problems and analyzing information to develop and evaluate possible options for solving the problems
  • While keeping the system goals in mind, identifying the indicators of system performance and the steps required to enhance or correct its performance
  • Determining the time frame and type of maintenance needed and scheduling maintenance tasks accordingly
  • Conducting quality control and performance analysis via tests and inspections of products, services and processes

Tools of the trade: Network Specialists must utilize multiple tools each day. If your goal is to become a Network Specialist, here are just a few tools you should be familiar with:

  • Access software— Network Specialists should know how to utilize access management software such as Citrix Hot technology and Tivoli
  • Administration software— Programs such as Cisco Systems CiscoWorks; SolarWinds and network address management software, documentation software and shutdown software are vital to know
  • Application server software —Examples of this type of software include Citrix XenApp and Red Hat WildFly
  • Backup or archival software— System and data disaster recovery software,  Veritas NetBackup and more are included in this category
  • Configuration management software — If you’re familiar with programs such as Microsoft Windows Sysprep and Puppet, you’re doing well

 

Network Specialist Education and Training

According to our analysis of online job postings, many employers are seeking Network Specialist candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in areas such as computer science, computer information systems or computer networking. Classes and experience in the following areas are a plus: computer systems analysis, programming, database management and E-security.

 

Network Specialists Salary

The median annual salary for Network Specialists, categorized by the BLS as Network and Computer Systems Administrators, is approximately $80,000. Network Specialists in the 10th percentile earn about $49,000 annually, while the highest paid make in excess of $127,000 per year. Network Specialists in Maryland, District of Columbia and New Jersey earn the highest median salary rates in the U.S. – $106,000, $96,290 and $94,870, respectively.

 

Network Specialist Resources

We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to aid you in your exploration of a career as a Network Specialist. From leading blogs to relevant books, this list offers plenty of opportunities to learn.

Network Computing – Visit this blog to find out about the changes in data, networking and storage technology and what impacts they are making.   

Defensive Security Podcasts – This weekly podcast gives listeners the lowdown on high-profile security breaches, data breaches and malware infections to enable application in the listener’s organization.

Enterprise Software Podcasts  – This independent podcast is dedicated to business applications. Listen in for software news, reviews, opinions and interviews that are of interest to everyone from a CEO to a user.

Computer Networking from LANs to WANs: Hardware, Software and Security

This book is useful for any level of learner — beginner to expert. It provides information on the wide field of networking throughout its 24 chapters and six informative appendices.

 

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