As companies depend more on their data networks, the importance of network systems and data communications analysts also continues to grow. Network systems and data communications analysts design local and wide area networks -- LANs and WANs -- as well as company intranets and Internet connectivity. These valuable employees also perform research to find the right networking solution and prepare proposals for management on recommended data communications approaches. As of 2009, the average annual salary was $76,560. The job growth from 2010 to 2020 is expected to be about 21 percent.
Enroll in math and science classes in high school, including algebra, geometry and computer science. English and speech classes are also helpful in that they teach you to write and speak well -- important skills for anyone seeking a technology job. While many who seek such jobs want to focus on the technology, the ability to communicate ideas in both written and oral form will put you ahead of the pack when it comes to advancement.
Earn a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology or a related field. Most companies require a four-year degree as a minimum requirement for network systems and data communications analysts. The training involved in a four-year degree will expose you to various technologies and help prepare you to interact with other technical and non-technical people. Most community and technical colleges offer such degree programs.
Obtain specialized training and acquire a networking certification, such as CompTIA's Network+, Microsoft's MCITP or Cisco's CCNA. Any of these certifications provide detailed network and data communications training that will help you succeed in a networking role. The certification tests are costly, starting at about $200 and some going over $1,000. While this training is expensive it can pay for itself on your first job offer.
Alan Hughes has more than 30 years of experience in IT including mainframes, programming, client/server, networks, project management, security, disaster recovery, information systems and hardware. He holds a master's degree in applied computer science and several certifications. He currently teaches information technology at the university level.