Network Administration Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Info

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Undergraduate degrees in network administration can lead to a range of positions within the information technology field. Keep reading to find out more about the requirements, courses and career options, and learn what you can do with your degree.
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Studying Network Administration: Degrees at a Glance

A network administrator is responsible for maintaining the computer network of a business or other organization. By studying network administration, you learn all about network and operating system infrastructure, computer system security, wireless technology and more. Graduates of associate's and bachelor's degree programs in this field may find work as technical support specialists or network administrators.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment opportunities for network administrators will increase by 28% from 2010-2020. While most professionals in this field hold bachelor's degrees, there are associate's degree programs in network administration; however, these programs may only qualify you for technical support or lower-level positions unless you have prior experience.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who Is This Degree For? Students interested in entering the network administration field as technical support specialists Individuals interested in becoming technical support specialists or network administrators
Common Career Paths and Salary - Technical support specialists ($52,000)*
- Same as associate's degree
- Network administrator ($74,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full time 4 years full time
Common Graduation Requirements About 18-20 courses - About 36-40 courses
- Internship or capstone project
Prerequisites High school diploma with minimum grade point average - High school diploma
- In some cases, prior IT coursework or work experience is necessary
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's Degree in Network Administration

Associate's degree programs in network administration educate you in the foundational topics necessary to pursue entry-level IT positions. These topics include computer and network integration, security principles and network infrastructure. In some cases, you can take your classes online, on-campus or both. In addition, you can transfer associate's-level credits into bachelor's degree programs. It may be tough to obtain a network administration job without a bachelor's degree; if you only have an associate's degree, additional experience may be required.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You can earn your degree in two years or less
  • Slightly above-average job growth is expected for technical support specialists (18% from 2010-2020)*
  • Programs are available in both online and campus-based formats

Cons

  • You'll be less qualified for network administration positions that require a 4-year degree
  • You may need to work evenings or weekends as a support specialist
  • Continuing education is often a requirement for IT positions

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

In addition to core networking courses, associate's programs often include several communications and humanities courses, such as English composition or world history. Your curriculum may explore specific technologies, like Cisco routers, in order to prepare you for certification exams. Core topics may include:

  • PC operating systems
  • Directory services
  • Firewalls
  • Introduction to routers

Online Degree and Course Information

Many of these programs are offered in an online format. You can also find programs that offer both online and traditional classroom instruction. There is usually no difference in curriculum between these two types of programs. However, programs offered via distance learning are often less likely to provide internships that offer valuable experiential opportunities.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

After earning your degree, you can get an edge on the competition by obtaining industry credentials. Many associate's programs can prepare you for certification exams offered by Cisco, Microsoft and other third-party vendors. When considering what certification to pursue, your decision will most likely be guided by your potential employer or your own desired career path.

Bachelor's Degree in Network Administration

A bachelor's degree program in network administration is designed to teach you the fundamentals of wireless networking, computer security and network ethics. You can also receive education and training in business topics, such as technical writing, supervising employees and technical research. Even with a bachelor's degree, you may have to pursue product certification offered by third-party organizations, like CompTIA and Microsoft.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Network administrators should see above-average job growth (28% from 2010-2020)*
  • For some jobs, you may be competing with individuals who only have an associate's degree
  • Network administrators are needed in nearly all types of industries (computer design, banks, schools, manufacturing)

Cons

  • Network administrators may have to work evening and weekend hours to resolve computer system and security issues
  • Because computer network technology is always changing, continuing education is required
  • A master's degree is required for some positions; you may need to pursue additional education

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

The courses required for this program are similar to those offered at the associate's-degree level; your coursework could prepare you for certification exams. However, you may study routers, switches and network security at a more advanced level than you would in a 2-year program. In addition, you'll most likely have a larger course load of humanities and electives. Some of these programs feature a required internship in which you gain valuable workplace experience, while others culminate in a capstone project.

Online Degree and Course Information

You can find programs in a hybrid format or exclusively online. Lectures, assignments and tests are usually available through a course management system operated by the school. Some distance programs are designed for students who already hold an associate's degree or have completed prior IT coursework.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Individual certifications from software vendors or computing organizations can give you an edge in the field. In some cases, you need to pursue specific credentials, depending on the employer.

It's also important to stay informed of IT trends and changing technologies. You can keep your knowledge up to date by joining an industry organization, like CompTIA. Membership benefits may include discounts on certification exams, access to current research studies and networking opportunities.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
      • Associate of Science - Technology Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology
  • Williston, ND

    Williston State College

  • Wilkesboro, NC

    Wilkes Community College

  • Knoxville, TN

    Pellissippi State Technical Community College

  • Campus Locations:
    6. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Network Engineering

Featured Schools

Herzing University

  • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
  • Associate of Science - Technology Studies

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Keiser University

  • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology

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Williston State College

Wilkes Community College

Virginia College

  • Associate: Network Engineering

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