Study Network Management: Bachelor, Associate & Online Degree Info

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What will you learn in a network management degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate and a bachelor degree and potential careers.
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Network Management Associate and Bachelor: Degrees at a Glance

Studying network management can help you learn the tools and technology behind designing and managing computer networks for small and large organizations. You'll study various networking platforms, such as Unix, Linux and Microsoft Windows. Your coursework will be divided between traditional classroom lectures and computer labs, where you'll receive hands-on training in the latest hardware and software.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that relevant positions, such as network and computer systems administrators, may require only an associate degree, along with professional certification, but many will require a 4-year degree. The BLS predicted that these administrators would see a 28% growth in employment from 2010 to 2020, while all computer occupations should see a 22% growth over the same period.

Associate Bachelor
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in entry-level tech positions Those who want to pursue network manager or other executive positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate salary) - Computer support specialist ($52,000*)
- PC maintenance technician ($41,000)**
- Network and computer systems administrator ($74,000)*
- Web developers, information security analysts and computer network architects ($82,000)*
Time to Completion 16 months to two years full-time Four years full time
Common Graduation Requirements None Some programs feature either an internship or a capstone project
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED equivalent High school diploma or GED equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 mean figures), **Payscale.com (August 2012 median figure).

Associate Degree in Network Management

The majority of your coursework will be spent becoming familiar with the various network systems you'll be likely to encounter in the workplace. You'll also study servers, data and system security, Internet and intranet protocols and more.

Some programs offer this as a terminal degree while other institutions design their curriculum so that students can transfer easily to a 4-year school upon completing the program. Research your institution carefully so that you're choosing a school and a program that will meet your educational and professional needs.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • There are accelerated programs that will allow you to complete your degree in less than two years of full-time study
  • Network administrators and related tech careers are expected to experience a faster-than-average job growth over the coming decade*
  • These programs are sometimes offered at community colleges, which feature some of the most affordable tuition around

Cons

  • The associate degree may not qualify you for as many positions as would a bachelor degree
  • Since the curriculum is entirely focused on network management, security and related issues, you may to develop a broad background in other topics, such as humanities or social sciences
  • If you do seek employment as a help desk technician, you may have to work evening or weekend hours or be on call

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

The coursework for this type of degree program features a core set of computer network management classes with few or no other academic requirements. Programs may also over a concentration or track where you can focus on another computer-related area. Below are listed some sample course topics:

  • Network infrastructures
  • Information security
  • Authoring tools
  • Database design
  • Proxy servers
  • Client/server networks

Online Degree Options

Online associate degree programs in network management are available. These programs come in a variety of formats, including those that are offered completely online. Hybrid programs are also available, and these programs utilize a blend of online studies alongside traditional classroom instruction. Generally, there is not a difference in educational outcomes or vocational options upon graduating in comparison to campus-based programs. You may also be interested in related online programs, such as those offered in network administration.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Associate degree programs may not offer an internship. You may consider pursuing your own internship to illustrate that you have the technical savvy and people skills to get the job done. You can also apply your training to gaining voluntary professional certification, which does not generally have a degree requirement. According to the BLS, if you have an associate degree, you will have a better chance of getting hired if you also have certification and experience.

Bachelor's Degree in Network Management

Degree candidates in this program study the operation of computer networks while also receiving in-depth instruction on network security, protocols, database systems and the relevant ethical and moral issues involved in network management. Many programs also offer training and test preparation for one or more of the range of industry certification exams offered by companies like Microsoft and Cisco. Two of the more popular jobs that this degree program can prepare you for are computer network support specialist and information security analyst.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Careers in the information technology field are some of the fastest growing careers in the country
  • Your studies will include coursework on networking topics, as well as elective courses from other areas
  • Because information technology specialists are needed everywhere, you can look for careers across the country

Cons

  • In some instances, you may end up competing against someone who has an associate degree and experience
  • Many computer administrators have to work overtime in order to maintain a well-operating network*
  • Because technology is constantly changing, network specialists will most likely have to take continuing education courses for the remainder of their careers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Along with your core network management courses, you'll also enroll in a number of general education electives designed to flesh out your information technology knowledge. Many programs feature either an internship or a capstone project, in which you work as part of a team on an actual networking issue or problem. Below you'll find some sample course topics:

  • Database systems
  • Networking
  • Infrastructure design
  • Risk management
  • Windows networking

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor degree programs in network management are available. They are offered 100% online, as well as in hybrid format. The former are offered exclusively online or with minimal on-campus requirements, such as a final exam offered in the classroom. Hybrid programs make more use out of each learning dynamic. Some courses take place only online, while other classes are offered in the classroom. Similar to campus-based programs, you can also prepare for professional certification through an online program.

Standing Out with This Degree

Industry certification is a common way in the information technology fields to indicate that you have the design and troubleshooting skills necessary for the job. Hardware and software vendors, such as Microsoft and Cisco, offer these certifications. Many employers insist on potential employees being certified on the products they will be using. You may look for programs that offer test training as part of the curriculum or courses in topics that are commonly covered on certification exams.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Information Technology
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Computer Information Technology
      • A.S. General Studies - Computer Information Technology
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Network Engineering
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

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

    Williston State College

  • Knoxville, TN

    Pellissippi State Technical Community College

  • Online Programs Available
    8. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate's - Network Security

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Associate: Information Technology
  • AASIT: Network Admin

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. Computer Information Technology
  • A.S. General Studies - Computer Information Technology

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Virginia College

  • Associate: Network Engineering

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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

ECPI University

  • Associate's - Network Security

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