A local area network (LAN) is a system of computers that uses a central
data bank to allow multiple computers to exchange and share information with
Local area network administration technicians (or LAN techs) work to design
and implement these systems. Sometimes they're called computer network administration
technicians. If the network includes computers and offices in separate cities,
the administrator is called a wide area network (WAN) administrator.
"My job is to design and implement LAN infrastructures," says Ibrahim Hamouda.
Hamouda is president of an information technology (IT) company.
Hamouda has several other responsibilities related to keeping the networks
running. He must deploy software to servers and workstations, offer help-desk
support, and keep all the equipment in the network in good health.
On top of all those responsibilities, LAN techs also spend a good part
of their day dealing with people. To be successful in this career, LAN techs
need to have great communication and people skills.
"This area of work can be complex. If you are a people-person who can socialize
and ask for help, then half the battle is already won," says Paul Skrzyniak.
He is co-owner of a computer services business.
While many LAN technicians work in all types of corporate and non-corporate
settings, some are also branching out and starting their own business. In
turn, instead of hiring an in-house IT person, some companies are beginning
to contract out the work to these new businesses.
Those working for specialized computer service and IT companies now work
more regular hours. These businesses are usually open five or six days a week,
during regular business hours.
"However, depending on the company, the hours could involve 24 hours,"
says Skrzyniak. This takes into account emergency situations.
Some of these businesses also do work for companies all over the world.
Travel can be a big part of the job. "We have clients with branches all over
the world, and it is my responsibility to go to these places to set them up
and connect them to our network," says Hamouda.
The impact of wireless technology on the computer networking world is still
up for debate. Olivier De Wulf says that, yes, wireless has changed this
field of work, but then again, no, it has not. De Wulf is managing partner
of an IT service company in San Francisco, California.
"There are definitely more and more wireless technologies available. We
install a lot of them but it's more as a secondary technology than the main
technology for networking," he says. "Some technologies are, if it's wired,
more stable. If it was wireless, it would be more flexible. So depending on
that, we will use one or the other."
For Skrzyniak, using wireless technology in computer networking has had
its upsides and downsides as well. "Wireless technology has made the networking
field easier in some ways and provided extra work in other ways," he says.
"The painstaking task of running cables through walls and ceilings has
been cut down considerably due to more wireless devices. However, implementing
encrypted security keys for the wireless broadcast signals needs more necessary
attention," says Skrzyniak.
Other challenges have included strengthening wireless signals and increasing