5 Reasons to Study Networking Technology Right Now

I love my job and I want you to love yours too. I meet people of all ages, everywhere in the world who are shaping the future of their communities and transforming their lives. As director of engineering with the Cisco Networking Academy, I am part of a global community dedicated to training the next generation of networking technology professionals who will design, build, and dream up the technology networks that will connect everyone, everywhere. They will change the way we work, live, play and learn.

Whether you're just planning a career or considering a career change, here are 5 reasons you should include computer networking in your course studies.

1. Opportunities abound

People with ICT and networking skills are in short supply worldwide. The US Department of Labor estimates the number of jobs for network systems and data communication analysts will grow by 53 percent from 2008 to 2018. In Brazil, these types of jobs will grow from about 60,000 today to more than 115,000 jobs by 2015. The story is the same in country after country from continent to continent. As organizations and institutions invest in mobile devices, cloud computing, social media and big data, they depend on a workforce with networking technology experience. The current number of people working and studying technology simply won't match the expected demand. Individuals who choose to add networking to their studies or professional skills can transform their lives. Ntombozuko (Soso) Luningo leveraged her interest in computers into a successful career first as an IT professional and now inspires others as an instructor.

2. You don't have to be a math wiz

Networking starts with basic logic and connections. The only prerequisite for the Cisco Networking Academy IT Essentials class is an interest in information communications technology (ICT) and basic math and reading comprehension. If you are in or have completed high school, you have the skills to launch a networking career. High school students in Bulgaria have become networking champions through online study, simulations, hands-on activities, and working in teams. You can study networking technology at a broad range of educational institutions -- high schools, community colleges, institutes, community knowledge centers, and universities as part of your degree studies or while you work.

3. Every workplace needs a few friendly geeks

Networking skills give you an edge and an opportunity to make a career in almost any sector you can imagine: financial services, education, transportation, manufacturing, oil and gas, mining and minerals, technology, government, hospitality, health care, retail... you name it. If you have an interest in a particular field, technology is probably part of it. For example, health care clinicians study networking technology to better understand how to use it in their practice. At Effat University in Saudi Arabia, women have dramatically expanded their career opportunities by adding networking to their skills set. Veteran Matt Hefler became a virtual systems engineer with several job offers after his networking studies. Whether you see yourself with your own business, as part of a small company or inside a global corporation, networking basics open the door to help advance your career.

4. Get connected to the most connected people

There is a worldwide community of people just like you. More than 4.75 million students in 165 countries have participated in Cisco Networking Academy courses since 1997. That's a lot of friends to find and connect with on LinkedIn or the Cisco Networking Academy Facebook page, which has over 530,000 student and instructor members who use it to stay in touch, ask questions, and learn about new learning opportunities. Most academies have their own Facebook sites and many have LinkedIn communities.

5. The places you'll go and the things you'll do

Networking standards are global. That means your skills and certifications are recognized anywhere in the world your career takes you. Cisco certified professionals have worked their way up through global corporations in places all over the world. They live in every sized community, supporting small businesses, schools, and social services in every town or village where someone connects to the Internet. They build networks for essential communications after disasters like in Haiti after the earthquake. They connect isolated places like refugee camps to the world, giving displaced persons a bridge to a more promising future.
I know that networking can take you wherever you want to go, because I've lived it. I started out as a systems analyst with Fidelity Investments. But I had ambitions to build life experience and travel the globe. I used my knowledge in networking and technology to move to Europe and then to Asia for over 10 years, advancing my career from systems to sales to business development. Now, as director of engineering for Cisco Networking Academy, I ensure that people everywhere benefit from the power of ICT. When you choose to add networking skills and Cisco certification to your résumé, you open the door to opportunities.

Gary Coman will be speaking about the connection between networking technology studies and career opportunities at the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference, June 17-19.