A computer networking technician, sometimes simply called a network technician, monitors the day-to-day operations of an organization’s computer network. In this day and age, this job has become an essential role that can take on many shapes and forms. This individual often installs, operates, maintains, upgrades, and fixes computers and network equipment, which will look different for every business and organization depending on its size and structure.
So, what really is a network technician and what are the typical responsibilities of someone who serves in this role? It’s an important question that anyone considering this as a career option should want to have answered. Keep reading to learn the basics about this highly utilized job function, and what having a career as a network technician might look like in your own life.
Defining “Network Technician”
Often the job title “network technician” is used to describe a broad range of technical job functions within an organization. This is a person who is part of the team that maintains the central nervous system of an organization. And as businesses have become more and more reliant on technology, the role of the network technician has become increasingly important.
At the most basic level, a network technician is responsible for implementing, maintaining, troubleshooting and repairing computer and network systems. In this role, they’re responsible for setting up internet connections, establishing different types of networks and connecting them. According to Indeed, some of the specific responsibilities include:
- Troubleshooting computer software and hardware issues, making repairs and performing scheduled updates.
- Partnering with the IT team to ensure that the software is correctly installed and launching on employee computers.
- Providing technical support for clients and end-users through various lines of communication, including phones and live chat support.
- Securing the computer network against cyber-attacks, which includes installing antivirus software and ensuring it is regularly updated.
- Educating employees on different facets of the network and briefing management on possible causes and solutions of problems.
- Suggesting the best equipment and programs for a company and requesting new equipment if what’s being currently used becomes unreliable.
Though this may feel like quite the to-do list, each of these tasks build upon one another and require skills that can be quickly mastered with some foundational training. Read below for information about training to become a network technician.
At the core of what a network technician does are three responsibilities. These are setting up networks, troubleshooting and optimizing the network, and training and documenting. Below we dive deeper into what each of these entail for a network technician.
Setting Up Networks
When you enter the workforce as a network technician you might be part of a team that is setting up a brand new network. Network technicians know how to set up a network from scratch, when needed. The team must first identify and pull together all the physical components needed to install the new network. Setting up a network involves installing equipment and hardware like: servers, routers, cabling, adapters and computers. After the equipment is installed and the software configured, network technicians help users in the organization get up and running. These duties include: setting passwords, assigning roles, connection to the network, and configuring printers.
Troubleshooting and Optimizing the Network
Many entry level network technicians start as problem solvers offering network technical support. When someone can’t access the network, internet or resource like a printer, you will come in to assist them get connected again. Technicians help maintain the productivity of the company by ensuring that individuals can access resources they need to perform their duties. Much of the network technician’s job revolves around preventing problems and eliminating bottlenecks. A largely unseen responsibility of the network technician is working behind the scenes to keep the network functioning efficiently and minimizing downtime. In times of crisis, the network team must come to the rescue to get the network connected, restore backups and patch any security breaches.
Training and Documenting
Another entry level role of a network technician is training users and maintaining internal network documentation. Network technicians often find themselves in situations where they need to explain or communicate about systems in a way that non-tech people can understand. Network Technicians need to be available to train and support the people using their network. They might be called upon to host an internal webinar to explain how to use a new system or to follow new security procedures. Not all members of an organization are at the same level of technology comfort and the network technician will have to help them understand the system so they can perform their job. Finally, technicians will maintain technical documentation and logs so that the team saves time finding solutions to previous problems and keeps the whole team on the same page when it comes to network policies and procedures.
Advancing Your Career as a Network Technician
Because the demand for network technicians is growing rapidly, there are numerous opportunities for advancement in the field and to enjoy a long-lasting and fulfilling career in this role. The first step to getting started begins with gaining hands-on experience through training and certifications, like those offered through NuPaths. You can also gain additional hands-on experience through on-the-job training which is often offered by companies so they can develop their employees internally. Best of all, there are a lot of entry-level network technician jobs right now, so there are many opportunities available to get your foot in the door after completing foundational training and to grow from there.
Once you’re established as a network technician, there are additional opportunities for growth along the way. One pathway of advancement in this career is from a network technician to a network engineer. This is often accomplished by completing continuing education courses and gaining more advanced certifications while you are already working. From there, many other opportunities and pathways can lead you to continued growth and increases in both salary and responsibility, making the career of a network technician a great launching point.