What Are the Different Types of Computer Networks You Need to Know?

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Technology is an integral part of our everyday lives. It keeps us connected to people, places, and things all over the world. It’s no wonder that information technology is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation. Over the next decade, the need to keep our technology both updated and secure will grow—along with the demand for workers with computer savvy and IT skills. If you’re considering a career path in IT, you’ll need to start with the basics.

What Are Computer Networks?

When you print a document, download and open an email attachment, or surf the Internet, a computer network is working silently in the background to help you complete these actions. A computer network is a set of interconnected devices that communicate with one another to transmit information. Networks can include computers, printers, modems, and other devices that can pass data back and forth. Some networks are small and contained within a single room while others are large and can span the globe.

Types of Networks

There are many types of computer networks, and you need to understand them if you hope to work in IT as a network security specialist or other network professional. Here are the networks you’ll get to know:

  • Personal Area Network (PAN)—A PAN is the simplest type of network. It consists of two or three devices, such as a computer, printer, and phone. You can find this network in your home and in small office buildings. Your mouse, keyboard, and laptop create a PAN network.
  • Controller Area Network (CAN)—A CAN is a communication system for vehicles that allows your car’s computers or electronic control units (ECUs) to talk to one another. That includes components like your transmission, brakes, and engine.
  • Local Area Network (LAN)—This is one of the most common types of networks and is more typically used in office buildings than a PAN network. A LAN network connects devices in one building or even two and can also be found in schools or laboratories.
  • Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)—Larger than PANs or LANs is a MAN, which can connect devices across a larger geographical area such as a town or a city. A city council or county government may be in charge of these networks.
  • Wide Area Network (WAN)—Similar to a MAN, a WAN can connect devices across a larger geographical area but is typically maintained by multiple administrators rather than a single entity. A WAN can also interconnect smaller LANs and are typically used across multiple branches of the same company.
  • Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)—These networks are small and used like LANs but employ the use of wireless technology such as Wi-Fi rather than physical cables.
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN)—If you have worked remotely during the past few years, you may have become familiar with the term VPN. This network allows users to send and transmit data on office devices from a remote location.
  • Enterprise Private Network (EPN)—These networks are built and used by businesses that want to share information across devices at various locations through a secure connection.

Another type of network that you may be familiar with is a cloud network. This is similar to a WAN, but operates in the cloud instead of from an internal computer server. Cloud computing is expected to grow through 2028, https://www.flexera.com/blog/cloud/cloud-computing-trends-2022-state-of-the-cloud-report/as will the need for IT specialists with knowledge and skills in various network technologies.

Are you ready to start a tech career? Charter College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Networking Systems that can prepare you for entry-level work in the field. Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.