Study Wireless Networking: Associate, Training & Online Degree Info

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Certificates and associate degrees in wireless networking can lead to careers in the information technology (IT) field. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and online options, and find out what you can do with your training.
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Wireless Networking Certificates and Associate Degrees: At a Glance

Earning a wireless networking certificate might sound ideal if you're interested in completing entry-level career training in less than a year. Employment options include entry-level positions, such as a computer support specialist or network administrator. Associate degree programs in networking technology provide similar instruction and can also prepare you for an entry-level career. However, you should be aware that employers for these positions might prefer to hire applicants with a bachelor's degree.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected an 18% job growth for computer support specialists between 2010 and 2020. The need for these professionals to troubleshoot problems with hardware and software upgrades or improve network systems security was expected to drive employment growth.

Certificate Associate Degree
Who is this program for? Individuals looking for entry-level training programs Students who would like more comprehensive network or IT training
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Network and computer systems administrator ($74,000)*
- Computer support specialist ($52,000)*
Same as certificate program graduates
Time to Completion 1-2 semesters, full-time Four semesters, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements Between 15 and 26 credit hours of coursework Approximately 60-70 credit hours of coursework
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED required for some programs Same as certificate programs
Online Availability Online programs are rare Yes

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

Certificate in Wireless Networking

Wireless networking certificate programs are fairly common and can cover topics ranging from networking fundamentals to network administration and project management. Because most programs are designed to prepare you for entry-level IT careers, they also include training in operating systems basics. This instruction is often delivered through a combination of lecture courses and hands-on experience that can expose you to such wireless network components as adapters and access points.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Certificate programs can be completed in a year or less
  • A favorable employment outlook was projected for network and computer systems administrators (28% job growth from 2010-2020)*
  • Program coursework can prepare you for vendor certifications

Cons

  • You'll more than likely be competing against associate or bachelor's degree program graduates for the same positions
  • Related work experience is often required for network and computer systems administrator positions
  • IT careers require continuing education to stay abreast of changing technologies

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

These certificate programs include about 5-8 courses focusing on such topics as network configuration and troubleshooting techniques. You might also learn how to improve signal strength or keep networks secure. Some of the courses offered in wireless technology certificate programs are listed below:

  • Wireless local area networks (LANs)
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Linux network administration
  • Network security
  • Cisco wireless networking
  • Smartphone technologies

Online Program Info

Online wireless networking certificate programs are extremely rare. You might have better luck finding an online program in general computer networking. Coursework often covers some of the same networking and operating systems basics as a wireless networking program. Some may even allow you to transfer course credits to an associate degree program.

Getting Ahead With This Certificate

According to the BLS, earning vendor certification could help set you apart from other job applicants. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credentials are available to candidates who pass an exam covering such topics as network configuration and management. A similar process is required for CompTIA's Network+ certification.

Associate Degree in Wireless Networking

Associate degree programs providing instruction in wireless networking are generally offered as an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science in Computer Networking or Networking Technology. Some schools even offer wireless networking concentrations as part of these degree programs.

In addition to course topics in wireless network configuration and security, you can study computer hardware and software. Perhaps the biggest difference between these and wireless networking certificate programs, however, is the addition of general education courses in math, reading and the social sciences.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You may be able to transfer your credits to a 4-year bachelor's degree program
  • Curriculum for an associate degree provides you with a broader course of study than a certificate program
  • Network and computer systems administrators and computer support specialists can work in a variety of industries (including education, telecommunications, manufacturing and business)

Cons

  • Bachelor's degree program graduates were expected to face the best job prospects for positions as computer support specialists and network and computer systems administrators
  • Computer support specialists often work evening or weekend shifts
  • Associate degree programs take longer to complete than certificate programs

Courses and Requirements

Networking associate degree programs build on the introductory course topics covered in certificate programs. Electives also allow you study specialized topics in areas like wide area networking and home automation systems. Some of the courses you might take are listed below:

  • Computer hardware
  • Database design
  • Beginning HTML
  • Routing protocols
  • Network design
  • Advanced hardware support
  • Wireless security

Online Program Info

Online computer network administration, enterprise networking and networking specialist associate degrees are just some of the examples of programs including wireless networking courses. Online information technology degrees with a wireless networking concentration are also available, though rare. Most of these programs give you the option of completing coursework online or on campus, though it's feasible to complete all program requirements via distance education.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

The curriculum for a networking associate degree program allows you to take a handful of elective courses. Look for those that can help you keep up with technological advances. Some schools offer courses discussing industry trends and up-and-coming technologies. You might also want to consider sitting for CompTIA and Cisco certification exams while completing your degree.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate's - Network Security
      • Associate's - Network Security
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AASIT: Network Admin
      • Associate: Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Herzing University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Computer Information Technology
      • A.S. General Studies - Computer Information Technology
  • Campus Locations:
    6. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Network Engineering
  • Minneapolis, MN

    Dunwoody College of Technology

  • Rochester, NY

    Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Online Programs Available
    9. Thomas Edison State University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AAS in Applied Computer Studies
      • ASAST in Computer and Information Technology
      • ASNSM in Computer Science

Featured Schools

ECPI University

  • Associate's - Network Security

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Kaplan University

  • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Associate: Information Technology

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Herzing University

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

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Keiser University

  • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology

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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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