By Peter H. Gregory, Bill Hughes

Every organization that uses computers and networks must employ people with networking skills and knowledge. With the pace of change in information technology and new uses for Internet-based services, even a one-person IT department must be knowledgeable about basic networking skills.

The United States has a big shortage of workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs, as indicated by the following numbers:

You get the idea.

A networking career is not a get-rich-quick career — far from it. But if you are motivated, possess an aptitude for working with technology, and have good people skills, you should enjoy more-or-less steady employment and a decent standard of living.

Many consider networking to be an entry-level field in IT. Networking is a great way to start a career in IT, and many use networking as a stepping-stone into other IT fields such as software development or database administration. However, networking itself is a great career: highly skilled and experienced network engineers are among the highest paid positions in IT.

To summarize: A networking career offers a full career path with great opportunity for advancement, from entry-level help-desk roles to senior management or director positions.