Communication Technology Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Info

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What jobs can you get with an associate or bachelor's degree in communication technology? Get the facts about requirements, online options, courses and training programs.
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Associate and Bachelor's Degree in Communication Technology at a Glance

Communication technology involves the administration and maintenance of computer-based information systems, managing the interaction between humans and technology. There are many aspects to this field, including data base administration, computer security or networking and information systems administration and management. This career field basically encompasses any aspect of business computer systems that are used to receive, transmit, store and access information.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), network and computer administrator jobs are going to experience faster than average job growth between 2010 and 2020, at a rate of 28%. The BLS reports that job growth for computer support specialists and network administrators will be average, at about 18% during the same time frame. The fastest job growth is expected to be for database administrators, which the BLS projects to be 31%.

Associate Bachelor's
Who Is This Degree For? Individuals looking for an entry-level job in communication technology or who want to transfer their associate degree to a bachelor degree program Individuals seeking a career in any of the computer technology specialties
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual median salary) - Computer support specialist ($48,000)*
- Computer network administrator ($71,000)*
- Database administrator ($75,000)*
- Computer information systems manager ($118,000)*
Time to Completion Two years full time Four years full time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 10-13 general education classes
- Roughly 11-14 communication technology classes
- Minimum required grade point average (GPA)
- Roughly 18-22 general education courses
- Roughly 18-24 communication technology courses
- Internship or major project
- Minimum required GPA
Prerequisites - High school diploma or GED
- Minimum required ACT or SAT score (required by some schools)
- Assessment testing (usually administered by college - not always required)
- High school diploma or GED
- Minimum required ACT or SAT score
Online Availability - Limited - Limited

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2011 salaries.

Associate Degree in CommunicationTechnology Programs

An associate degree in communication technology can provide you with essential skills that will get your foot in the door where you can gain valuable work experience in demand by many employers. Most associate degree programs provide courses in networking and databases and operating systems, teaching proficiency in the technology used in large and small businesses alike. You could find an entry-level position as a support specialist or maintaining company email in a large corporation, or you could administer the computer information systems in a small business. Depending on the focus of your degree program, you could also specialize in computer security, computer networks or communications.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You can obtain an entry-level network and computer administration or computer support job in some companies with an associate degree
  • Many community colleges that offer this program have open admission policies, making it easier to enroll than in a four-year college
  • Certain associate degree programs focus heavily on technology courses, and may offer a program that could provide you with more advanced technical proficiency almost equal to some bachelor degree programs

Cons

  • Most employers require a bachelor or masters degree and/or some work experience
  • Your associate degree may not readily transfer to a bachelor degree program, so if you are planning such a transfer, be careful to verify that your credits will transfer before deciding on an associate program
  • Most associate degree programs may not provide advanced technological skills, putting you at a competitive disadvantage with bachelor degree-holding job applicants

Courses and Requirements

In addition to taking general education courses in English, math, science and humanities, you may have courses that feature business computer communications and information technology. You may also have to take some business courses that relate to e-commerce or other aspects of business and the communications technology. Many programs offer the opportunity to specialize in certain aspects of the technology, but most programs will provide courses in the following areas:

  • Computer operating systems and applications
  • Networks and networking
  • Internet and social media
  • Programming
  • Database and information systems
  • Security

Online Course Info

This program may be difficult to find as an online option. Certain courses are available online or as a distance learning option, but often, the technical courses are usually only available in a classroom setting. When you consider an online or distance learning program, be sure to verify that it is accredited and provides the same courses as programs offered on campus.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

The fastest job growth is going to be for database administrators.* This is an opportunity to tailor your program to insure your proficiency in database design, administration and maintenance. This will most likely involve acquiring skills in SQL programming language as well as developing your troubleshooting skills. Acquiring a formal specialty in database administration could give you a competitive edge over job candidates who do not have a database specialization.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Degree Alternatives

The associate degree program in communication technology focuses on the interaction of humans and technology as it pertains to business communications. If you are more technology-oriented, you may want to consider a computer science program that focuses on hardware or electronics engineering, computer programming or systems analysis. These career fields deal less with the human factor and feature technology and analysis as the primary job function.

Bachelor's Degree in Communication Technology

Communications and information management are the core of business, and computers are the devices most commonly used to conduct these communications. Whether it is e-commerce, customer or inventory databases or inter-office communications, someone needs to administer and support the technology that makes companies run smoothly and efficiently. That is the job of the communication technology graduate. They find jobs as network administrators, database administrators, information systems security managers and information systems administrators and managers. This is a diverse career field, with growing demands for skilled professionals to keep business technology running smoothly.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Network and computer administrators are in high demand, and job growth is in this career field is faster than average*
  • Many companies prefer a job applicant with bachelor's degree for computer networking, database administration and information systems jobs
  • There is very favorable potential for advancement to management positions in this career field

Cons

  • You may be competing against job candidates who have an associate degree and some job experience
  • Some employers prefer candidates with a master's degree or work experience
  • This degree is difficult to find as an online program

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

You will be required to take general educations courses in English, science, math and humanities in addition to the courses offered for your major. Like the associate programs, bachelor's degree programs offer a variety of specialties in the communication technology field, but feature courses in more advanced hardware and software technologies used in business. Some programs offer the opportunity to gain valuable job experience with an internship. Curriculum requirements generally include:

  • Networking
  • Computer hardware
  • Software applications and technology
  • Programming
  • Security technology
  • Communications technology
  • Operating systems
  • Databases
  • Computer forensics
  • Internship or senior project

Online Course Info

Like the associate degree program, you may find some of the general education courses available online or as a distance learning option, but most likely the technological courses are only offered on campus. There may be certain programs that allow you to transfer your associate degree credits to an online bachelor's degree program, but they may not offer many advanced technology courses as part of the degree. Be sure to verify that the online program you are considering offers the courses in the technology you require.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

There is a growing demand for specialists in computer security. This includes database, communications and network security. This is a career path that is growing in response to the increasing threats to the security of business communications and information. Choosing a program that teaches a specialty in various aspects of computer security could position you favorably for a wide variety of jobs in the public or private sector.

How Continuing Education Can Help You Stand Out

Computer communications and technology is a rapidly changing field. It involves not only hardware improvements but also enhancement to the software that is used to transmit and store business information. Professionals in this career field will need to stay current with the latest advancements in the hardware and software technology in order to stay competitive. Many colleges offer continuing education courses in the latest communications technology. Companies that create and distribute the technology used in this career field also frequently offer training in their products. Employers demand proficiency in the latest technology, and continuing education is one means to insure you maintain a competitive edge.

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