Is a Computer Networking Degree Worth It?
Trying to predict the future and know what skills and qualifications will get you the huge paycheck is often an exercise in futility. Some industries that were absolute staples a few years ago can go out of business in the blink of an eye. Working out what will be the next big thing that you can get in on the ground floor of a solid career is no easy feat. So is it worth it to go to university and get a Computer Networking degree?
Getting a degree in Computer Networking is worth it. Whether you are looking at options for your first job or looking to change jobs, IT professionals earn big money and the future looks bright given the expanding role the internet and networking plays in our daily life.
I will show you the endless options your degree will be useful for, what a computer networking degree is (and isn’t) and what you can expect to be working as with such a qualification.
What is a Computer Networking Degree?
Computer Networking is generally a type of major or speciality of certain undergraduate or Bachelor’s degrees. Depending on the institution, they may come under a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Information Technology.
As with most computer science degrees, you will get a general overview of many aspects of computer science when undertaking such a course. Depending on the school or course you may get more emphasis on certain areas, as well as personal choices to do with electives. Computer Networking is generally going to involve units to do with network engineering, network administration and other related areas.
If you wish to specialise in computer networking, you could also look at obtaining certifications like those from the network hardware and software giant Cisco such as CCIE and CCNP. While such certifications are mandatory requirements for many IT professionals, they are required alongside a Bachelor’s Degree.
Benefits of Getting a Degree in Computer Networking
A job as an IT professional normally brings with it above-average pay, a diversity of job options, and a great job outlook.
An accredited college degree will always give job seekers a competitive advantage and many employers will require a Bachelor’s degree, with upwards of 80% of certain fields in IT having one. A cursory look through job postings for network-related IT roles shows that all require such a degree, particularly if an entry-level position.
With the availability of online courses and access to the internet, much of the practical content can be self-taught. However, you won’t have the guidance of a seasoned professor or the other benefits of a formal education, such as the network of connections and a chance to become well-rounded through soft skills. Many large firms will outright refuse to hire you without a degree even if you can demonstrate competent technical skills.
But it’s not just a matter of mastering different syntaxes like learning all the different programming languages or being able to configure any Cisco router. An education in computer science helps students better understand why code works and the logic powering it. If you are self-taught you may find yourself studying and practicing what is interesting to you, rather than having an exposure to a variety of computer science topics as you would through a degree-level course.
Earning a Bachelor’s degree in computer networking can also lead to a continuation at the master’s degree level. Further speciality could be done via a more technical master’s degree or you could prepare to lead IT departments with a Master of Business Administration degree.
Future Employment Options
IT is different from other career paths as there are many opportunities in both the private and public sectors. Anywhere there is a computer system or software, there has to be someone to maintain it. Over the last decade the rise in what is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) has seen a big subsequent shift towards people specialising in cybersecurity and networking, as all these different devices made by different manufacturers have to be able to talk to each other.
The demand for skilled IT workers will only continue to grow. It is hard to imagine any part of our world not touched by technology. New technologies and applications of existing knowledge mean that ambitious professionals will always have a huge amount of options and different career paths in front of them, just waiting for the right person to put two and two together and invent the next must-have thing.
With the large-scale changes brought about by COVID-19, workplaces have suddenly had to switch to digital spaces and allow employees to work from home. The big shift to WFH means security for remote access has to be built, configured and maintained, which means future prospects are excellent. The shortage in competent cybersecurity experts has also been an issue for many years, with recent events meaning an even higher demand for anyone with this skill set.
Considerations of being an IT Professional
One mistake many people make when deciding to get into IT is confusing IT with entertainment. Playing computer games and using applications on computers is fun and draws many people into the world of technology. But this is generally not what a lot of people find themselves dealing with in IT.
The field is very technical, requires a high level of abstract thinking, and you are dealing with systems rather than people. This can mean extroverted people have a harder time in the industry and it is difficult to talk about your work with technology disinclined people given the level of jargon, initialisms, and acronyms.
Given how much we rely on technology, the pressure to deliver perfect code or a breach-proof network will increase as you go up the career ladder. Computers will just execute whatever code you give them and generally won’t warn you that what you’ve done will lead to some catastrophic failure. This can lead to high stress that doesn’t stop when you clock off at the end of the day, compounded by the fact that many IT professionals are on-call 24/7 for whatever systems they are in charge of.