Computer network technicians (NOC 2281)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Computer network technicians operate, maintain and co-ordinate the use of local and wide area networks, datacentre networks, hardware, software and related computer equipment. They work for information technology (IT) companies and departments in the private and public sectors.

People in this job need to have a good understanding of computer hardware and software. They should be able to go with the flow, be creative, and be good at solving problems. Communication and good personal skills are important—network technicians have to be able to explain technical problems and work well with other IT professionals (such as programmers), staff and customers.

Supervisors of computer network technicians are included in this group.

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a computer network technician is like.

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Computer network technician


Common job titles
  • administrator, server / network / website
  • LAN (local area network) administrator
  • librarian, computer records
  • network administrator / controller
  • operator, data centre / network
  • technican, computer network

Duties

In general, computer network technicians:

  • Maintain and troubleshoot local and wide area networks (LANs and WANs), datacentre networks, web servers, computer workstations, as well as connections to the internet and equipment such as printers, monitors or keyboards
  • Test and install networking and operating system software, software applications and hardware
  • Co-ordinate access to and use of computer networks for employees
  • Fix problems that users are having with the network or their computer
  • Put network traffic and security monitoring software in place
  • Carry out routine network start-up and close-down and keep control records
  • Back up data
  • Run disaster recovery operations
  • Run tests and security and quality control tasks
  • Manage email use among employees and how they use the software installed on their work computers
  • Perform shell scripting or other basic scripting tasks
  • Set up and maintain internet and intranet websites and web server hardware and software
  • Monitor network connectivity and performance
  • Work with management to make sure that network systems and software are working properly
  • May supervise others

Work environment

Computer network technicians usually work 40 hours per week. If computer support is needed outside of office hours, such as when a large-scale maintenance project means that the system is down, they may work evenings, weekends or be on call. When problems come up, computer network technicians may need to work overtime.

The internet has changed this career somewhat. While some computer network technicians work in offices, people in this career can also provide remote support from a home office. People who work for companies that provide services on contract may spend part of their day travelling to clients' offices.

People in this job spend many hours sitting at a desk, working on a computer. This can cause eye, wrist, back or neck strain. It’s important to use a chair that allows good posture and to have a workstation setup that lowers joint pain caused by typing or using a mouse.

Insights from industry

Most employers use information technologies—and they need computer network technicians to manage, upgrade and customize their complex computer systems. It is expected there will be openings for this job in many industries and these will increase in the future.

The following may increase the demand for computer network technicians:

  • Larger networks, such as those for wireless and broadband internet
  • The growing use of virtualization
  • Businesses buying and selling products online (e-commerce)
  • Wireless and converged networks* are becoming more common, so most companies will need someone who can set them up, monitor and service them

* The combination of telephone, video and data communication provided by one company.

Computer network technicians may have a better chance of finding work if they have advanced training or certification in these growing specialities:

  • Network security to help businesses and governments protect their computer systems and data
  • Online security and cloud computing

Network technology changes quickly and this means that recent graduates and those who regularly upgrade their skills may have an easier time finding jobs. Having one or more vendor certifications—when a person is trained and certified by a specific software company—may also help.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Typically, recent graduates with a diploma can go straight into a job as a computer network technician. Others may start out working on a help desk, in computer and network operations, or in other support roles before moving into this career.

With more education and experience, computer network technicians may become supervisors or move into managerial roles, such as leading the IT department. They can go on to more senior roles, such as:

  • Network administrator
  • Senior systems administrator
  • Server administrator

They can also move into other fields such as computer programming, interactive media development, web development or systems analysis.

Additional resources