Overall individuals involved in networking do everything from installing cable to configuring routers. Add to that a basic understanding of security. Firewalls, proxy servers and intrusion detection systems are common networking components so as much as you can about these devices. You will need a good understanding of routing and routable protocols. Top of the list for routable protocols is TCP/IP. I would suggest Internetworking with TCP/IP by Douglas Comer.
Routing protocols are what routers use to "talk" to each other. These protocols can range from Border Gateway Protocol "BGP" to Routing Information Protocol "RIP". Routing TCP/IP by Jeff Doyle is another book you may want to read.
If at all possible setup a test system at your house. You can configure a Linux server with programs like IPChains, SNORT, and Tripwire for not much more than the cost of hardware.
This was first published in April 2003