Networking and system administration used to never require much programming skill. All you needed to understand was how to operate routers and switches and how to configure various networking devices. Those days, all you needed to do was follow instructions in manuals and get by.
Today a computer network engineer must know how to write complex code for programs that interface with network hardware. If he or she doesn’t understand the technology behind a piece of equipment, he or she is not fit to design or install it. Otherwise he or she risk becoming hopelessly outdated and ineffective in his job. Fortunately computer networking is much more complex than it was in the past. Modern technology makes things look easy, but they are anything but that.
There are many different kinds of programming languages. Some of them are cross-platform, meaning they run on many different kinds of computers and operating systems. Others are exclusive to one particular operating system. The most commonly used programming language is Microsoft’s Front-Page language, which is used not only on PCs but also on many web servers. For this reason, a number of people in the networking field are bilingual Front-Page fans.
Another group that uses a wide range of scripting languages is the software engineers. They aren’t necessarily bilingual, but because so many different programs are written in different languages, they often have to learn several languages in order to work every day. Many software engineers are able to double their fluency in a single year by learning a new scripting language.
Of course network administrators and other computer technicians have to be familiar with a wide variety of computer languages as well. In order to work as a network administrator, for example, you must know enough of the basic protocols to be able to communicate with your employees. You’ll also need to be able to install the programs necessary for their smooth operation. You can’t do that if you don’t understand what those protocols are. This is why network administrators need to be fluent in at least a few different programming languages.
Networking engineers and software engineers are not the only ones who need good programming skills in order to succeed. Network professionals need to be able to troubleshoot problems, diagnose problems, and set up networks. Good programmers can help network administrators solve problems and teach them how to do things. Even though networking is relatively straightforward, it does involve a lot of programming.
Another group that benefits from having good programing skills and knowledge is the hardware engineers. Networking devices, such as routers and switches, need to be able to work in harmony. A network engineer may discover a bug in a networking device or program and need to reproduce it so that it can be fixed. Without good programing skills, an engineer will have difficulty finding the bug and documenting the problem. Hardware engineers may find bugs in networking devices or programs and need to program them.
The people who most need the ability to work in a network environment but lack the technical skills necessary to do so are the network support technicians. Network support technicians work with customers’ equipment to repair it or to troubleshoot it. These technicians have to be skilled at using a variety of programming languages as well as at troubleshooting problems with networking equipment. Network support technicians also might have to perform tasks such as changing telephone settings or rebooting computers that just won’t work. Network support technicians will likely require a combination of a computer programming language, troubleshooting skills, and knowledge of different kinds of networking equipment.