To Be Or Not To Be A Computer Network Support Specialist

To Be Or Not to Be a Computer Support Specialist

First of all, let’s define some technical terms.

Computer – An intricate and indispensable, but essentially stupid machine.

Network – A whole bunch of stupid machines that communicate with each other.

Support – A necessary function when you have a whole bunch of stupid machines communicating with each other because sometimes something — often a tiny, inscrutable something — doesn’t work and everything breaks down and the world comes to an end. (Not really, but if you happen to be working IT for that particular company, you will quickly come to appreciate the meaning of “apocalyptic”.)

Specialist – the person whose job it is to maintain the network without turning into a manic-depressive recluse. (Actually, no one gives a hoot what you turn into as long as you can fix the problem.)

So who would want to take on a job like this? Maybe you.

What will you need besides an unflappable confidence in your own ability to solve problems while working in a pressure-cooker environment? Some kind of degree in some field of computer science may help. Probably doesn’t matter which one. Add the many varieties of networks to the varieties of software running on them that you might be called upon to support in a variety of ways (installation, operation, troubleshooting, security etc.), and it becomes clear no one computer major can prepare you for all the available jobs.

Even more important is to get certified.  Cisco Systems runs one certification program (no surprise there). It’s worth it to look at the job tree of the exams they offer and work your way back from there to define what academic courses you might want to take. Certification counts far more in getting a job than academic achievement. Theoretically, you could major in any field you wanted and then take courses to pass the certification exam. Even more theoretically, if you have a natural aptitude for IT; you could bypass a traditional education and just get certified. Either which way, if you prove your worth on the job, you will be paid very well indeed.

The downside is if you’re really good at it, no one will notice because the system will work without a hitch. The upside is when a hitch happens, be it file corruption, crash or security threat; it’ll be your expertise and ability to maintain your cool that will save the day. Perhaps, at that point, others in the company will notice and accord you well-deserved, though temporary superhero status. Or perhaps not. It’s a demanding, always-in-demand profession to pursue either which way.

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