Overview of an Associate Degree Program in Network Administration
An online or traditional associate degree program in this field may be called a degree program in network administration, network systems administration, computer network administration, and more. These degree programs will introduce you to the design, building, and maintenance of both local area networks (LANs) and wide-area networks (WANs) through a variety of applicable academics that will prepare graduates to explore career opportunities with large and small companies and certification in the field. You may take courses in Cisco Networking, learn how to support computer users, and help them to troubleshoot computer issues. You’ll also learn Linux, Windows, hardware, and programming so you’ll be fully equipped with the knowledge and skills you’ll need in your job. Other courses within this type of network administration program will cover general courses in computer networking, network security, computer systems security, operating systems, hardware and software, and more. Luckily, these courses are easy to shift onto an online leraning program. There are a variety of online, traditional, and hybrid (with online and in-person courses) available all over the United States.
Even beginning with a two-year, online network administration associate degree program, you’ll be putting yourself into a position to earn a decent annual salary in network administration once you find employment. From network and computer systems administrators, who earn about $80,000, to computer network architects, who earn just over $100,000, you’ll see good returns for your degree. You may have to start in entry-level positions, but you'll soon be able to advance.
Whether you are attending an online or traditional program, you should expect to develop non-computer-related skills (soft skills) as well such as problem-solving, communication, leadership, and collaboration. You’ll need to be able to observe closely what you and co-workers are doing for customers and network or operating systems administrators may be required to set policy.
Businesses are transitioning their company information and data to computers and computer networks all the time. They will need help to build those systems, then create the security they need to ensure their data is protected. That’s where you come in. Knowing that more businesses will be relying on you means that your knowledge and skills will be in-demand for years.
Along with the pros in earning an online or on-campus associate degree in network administration, come the disadvantages. You’ll make the final decision for yourself, but you should have every argument placed in front of you.
While earning an online associate degree allows you to begin working in your chosen field more quickly, you may be limiting your choices and your ability to perform certain tasks by not earning a higher-level degree. With an associate degree, you may learn a few programming languages. However, you won’t gain that deeper knowledge of computer science. If you persist with a four-year degree, then you’ll learn about computer network development, design, and testing. You’ll also learn about database management, which is information you’ll need in a network administrator position. In addition, you’ll learn about many more programming languages and operating systems. With a bachelor’s degree, your education will be more focused and your education will delve deeper. You’ll have more options from which to choose.
Certificate vs. Associates
Earning specific certifications in network administration can only help you. You can earn an online associate degree in network administration and see if your college offers any certifications that may help you as you begin your career along the way. Many certifications that will be useful in your future career are available through online courses.
These may include:
- Configuring Advanced Windows Server
- CompTIA A+
- Administering Windows Server
- Configuring Windows Devices
- Installing and Configuring Windows Servers
Deciding on whether these or other certifications will help you to do your job more effectively will be something you and your college advisor should discuss and decide together. You’ll spend more time studying, but you’ll benefit in the end.
What Network Administration Associate Degrees are Available?
Each college may have a different name for their Network Administration Associate Degree. The information and classes taught in each program may be slightly different, but you’ll learn what you need to know to work in this field. Make sure you check through the course list to make sure the program provides everything you need before you sign up for online courses or move onto campus.
- Network Systems Administration Associate Degree:
You will learn about computer networks, which are being brought online in more and more businesses. You’ll also gain other technical knowledge you need to perform this job.
- Associate Degree in Computer and Network Support:
Again, you’ll be ready to work in this industry, carrying out peripheral interfacing, network design and administration, Microsoft networking, LAN management, client/server configuration, and more. These programs are some of the most accessible through online learning.
- Associate Degree in Network Systems Administration:
You’ll learn about CISCO and CompTIA; configuring a network or system solution; design, installation, and configuring of a network or system solution; and monitoring, maintaining, and enhancing existing network installations. Due to hands-on learning requirements, these may be less accessible through online learning.
- Associate of Science in Network Administration:
You’ll learn how to set up, configure, troubleshoot, and maintain various computer network systems. You’ll also learn how to implement and monitor computer security measures within the work environment.
- Associate Degree in Computer Network Administration:
In school, you’ll learn how to manage information technology for both government and business.
Each prospective student has to submit the same information so they can be considered for admission to a network administration program. This is just as true for online programs as it is for traditional ones. Request your high school transcripts, which should show that you have a minimum high school GPA of 2.0. If you are a transfer student, you should have a minimum higher education GPA, also of 2.0.
If you don’t meet college or program admission requirements, you may be admitted to exploratory studies, then transfer to the College of Business when you meet minimum requirements. If you are still in high school and you know your GPA isn’t 2.0, work to bring this up to the minimum standard for admission. Luckily, associate degree admission requirements are lower overall for both online and on-campus programs.
How long does it take to earn a Network Administration Associates?
Associate degrees usually take between 18 and 24 months to complete. An Associate in Applied Science (AAS) may take at least two years, if not longer. Because you’ll be taking computer classes and general education courses, your degree program may take a little more than two years, even if you are attending on a full-time basis. Expect your curriculum to require completion of 62 to 67 credits.
If you do have to take any developmental education courses, this will extend your time in school. Developmental education courses are any course that is classified under the 100 level.
Potential Careers in Network Administration with an Online Associates
It’s natural to wonder where a prospective career can take you and it pays to do a little research to learn what you can about the professional field you’re choosing when you start college.
- Network Administrator:
Your daily duties may include performing data backups, managing disaster recovery operations, diagnosis, troubleshooting, and resolving software and hardware issues as well as oversight and maintenance of computer networks, hardware, systems software, and applications software. You’ll also implement network security measures that protect customer data, software, and hardware.
Average annual salary: $60,100
- Technical Support Specialist:
You may work in an organization providing technical assistance to users. You could troubleshoot problems with operating systems (OS), software, and hardware. You may also work in a technology company with the same job title.
Average annual salary: $51,800
- Computer Support Specialist:
In this role, you may be a team member, helping to maintain both networks and computer systems. In this role, you’ll provide technical assistance to various users on the network. You’ll also provide regular maintenance and network systems testing.
Average annual salary: $46,200
- Network/IT Security Analyst:
You are responsible for analyzing, monitoring and helping to resolve a company’s online security issues, such as attempts to hack into the company’s computer network. You may also identify any potential security issues in the system, then preventing them by upgrading policies, software, and procedures that make the network system more secure.
Average annual salary: $72,400
- Computer Network Architect:
In this role, you’ll work within an organization’s data communication networks, focusing on WANs, LANs, and intranets. They may be small or large, cloud-based or hardwired. You should keep your employer’s business goals in mind as you arrange the network and look for new technologies that will help it to achieve its biggest goals.
Average annual salary: $121,800
Options to Advance
If you limit your educational options, you’re limiting the types of work you can do as an IT professional. Going back to school for a few more years to earn your online bachelor’s degree can be worth it, especially if you have specific goals you’d like to reach; a more in-depth education gives you a better opportunity to reach them.
You could earn your online Master’s Degree in Network Administration and become a manager. You’ll gain the skills to manage an entire network operation. An online master’s helps you to develop leadership and management skills as well as needed technology skills.
If you go further with your education, you could earn your Doctor of Information Technology. This will hone your problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Don’t mistake a PhD for a Doctor of Information Technology; the education and subsequent roles you can enter are different. With a doctorate, you have a wider set of skills to use. With a PhD, you’d work in theory and research.
Best Associate of Science in Network Administration Programs
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Green Bay, Wisconsin
NWTC was established in 1912 and has since been identified as a nationally-ranked two-year higher educational institution. The college has three campuses, located in Sturgeon Bay, Green Bay, and Marinette. Five regional learning centers are located in Shawano, Crivitz, Oconto Falls, Luxemburg, and Aurora.
- IT Systems Administrator Associate Degree
Front Range Community College
The college’s top priority is the success of each student. FRCC treats learning as a partnership between students, faculty, and the staff. The faculty works hard to prepare students for working in the real world.
- Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity (Larimer and Westminster)
Florida State College at Jacksonville
This community college was founded in 1965—at that time, it was called Florida Junior College. The school was established during the nation’s push to have more public postsecondary schools and it has proudly served its students since then.
- Associate in Science (AS) in Network Systems Technology
Central Arizona College
CAC first opened its doors to students seeking a higher education within Pinal County, Arizona. Its students are primarily Native American and Hispanic and many become members of the Lifelong Learners Program. Five campuses serve students throughout the county.
- Associate of Applied Arts in Network Administration
SU is a private, higher learning institution, serving students at the certificate, Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral levels. The faculty stresses critical thinking and expressing oneself verbally and in written language. The school also works to instill a love of lifelong learning in each student.
- Associate of Science in IT, with concentration in Network Support Administration and Security
Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Network Administration
The University of Toledo
UT was established in 1872, becoming a part of the state university system in 1967. In 2006, UT and the Medical University of Ohio merged, becoming the third-largest public operating budget in the state. It offers online Associate, Bachelors, Graduate, and Doctoral degrees.
- Associate in Computer Network Administration
Bryant & Stratton College
Buffalo, New York
Bryant & Stratton College has helped their students to achieve success in their planned careers by providing quality education. The college was founded in 1854, affording students with more than just apprenticeship experience to begin their careers in business.
- Associate of Applied Science in Network Technology
Purdue Global University
West Lafayette, Indiana
The first Purdue was founded in 1869 in Indiana as a land-grant institution. More than a century later, Purdue West Lafayette acquired Kaplan University, obtaining a leader in online adult education. Today, the university is known as Purdue Global University.
- Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology, with a concentration in Network Administration
Mesa Community College
Mesa Community College is the largest of the ten community colleges within the Maricopa Community College District. Each college has its own role, with a shared mission and foundation. MCC has two campuses with several locations for students.
- Associate in Applied Science in Linux Networking Administration
West Point, Georgia
In 1937, Point University was founded as a private, liberal arts college, educating students with a focus on faith in all areas of their lives. PU operates several traditional campuses in Georgia, offering associate, bachelor, and graduate degrees.
- Online Associate of Science in Information Technology