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What Does a Career in Network Administration Entail?

Network administrators manage businesses networks by installing and maintaining hardware and software while overseeing operations and functions within the network to keep things operational. They are responsible for the firm’s computer systems, cloud computing, printers, servers, routers, switches, firewalls, security updates, file servers, gateways, operating systems, and network operations including local area networks and wide area networks, and more. These IT experts must possess knowledge of high-level technology and networking that may extend to wide area networks or local area networks, intranet, and the internet and therefore, usually have a higher-level degree than an entry-level specialist.

Network administrators may also possess certification in network and computer systems or network and security as well as undergo special training in specific areas related to hardware or software included in their network operations, allowing them to take control of new additions to computer systems, assign network addresses, and create completely new systems and network from scratch. Another thing network administrators are responsible for is authorizing and configuring authentications and permissions for groups or individuals to access networks and resources in order to maintain each cybersecurity policy put in place by corporate leadership to govern users in an office or off-site environment.


Components of a Successful Career in Network Administration

To be successful, network administrators and computer systems administrators will need to be ready to work hard and gain experience, but mostly they will need a lot of training, as they require high-level skills to perform their important job duties. Therefore, you should consider getting a bachelor’s degree in information science or in computer science with a focus on network administration. If students are willing to look for online programs or have a number of colleges and universities in their local area, students may want to look for a bachelor's in network administration or systems and network administration program.

Some of the more important skills required for success in this field are computer fundamentals, programming, network operations, cloud computing, hardware, and project management. Network administrators must be proficient in creating, analyzing, maintaining, and operating network systems, ensuring that a company’s staff are able to access information on the internet or from server databases.

According to a 30-year veteran of the computing industry, there are three areas of essential skills successful network administration professionals should possess; these include management/procedural components, interpersonal, and technical:

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How to Earn a Network Administrator Degree Online

Typical Online Network Administration Degree Requirements

An online associate of science or a bachelor’s degree in information technology, network management, or computer engineering are the degree levels recommended for this position. In addition, some employers may request that you earn post-secondary certifications needed specifically for their firm.

There are online programs in network management available, which generally include the same course requirements and components as on-campus. You can also complete an internship program that provides you with hands-on work experience to improve your chances of gaining employment

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Typical Online Network Administration Certifications Needed

There are no certifications required to become a network administrator, although, many employers may prefer certain credentials essential to fulfilling duties associated with these positions. Network administration related certificates are typically offered by organizations that are well known such as Cisco, Microsoft, Juniper, and Redhat.

The following are just some of the certificates available for computer careers or a related professional field:

  • Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)
    This certificate shows competence in the ability to create, implement, manage, and maintain SQL Server 2000 databases.
  • C++ Certified Professional Programmer (CPP)
    A CPP is a mid-level C++ professional certification that proves you have advanced programming skills in the C++ language.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
    This program is not limited strictly to computer-related professionals. PMP relates to competency regarding the knowledge and skills required to budget, plan, execute, and oversee a technology project.
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
    The holder of a CISSP demonstrates advanced skills and knowledge of engineering, design, management, and implementation of information and security to protect against viruses and cyber-attacks.
  • Zend Certified PHP Engineer
    PHP is a general-purpose open-source scripting language specifically suited for web development.
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional Data Center (CCNP Data Center)
    Designed particularly for technology architects, business services, implementation, and design engineers.
  • CompTIA Cloud+
    Proves you are an expert IT practitioner in designing and maintaining cloud technologies.
  • Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)
    Certifies competency in administering, installing, and surveying enterprise Wi-Fi networks.
  • Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
    An RHCE certificate ensures you acquired additional skills and capabilities of a senior system administrator to design and operate Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems.
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
    This certificate ensures you are capable of designing and implementing technology solutions.

Academic Standards for an Online Network Administration Degree

Those seeking a degree in network administration have diverse academic options with a variety of majors that include computer science, network administration, information science, and management information systems.

To be considered, students must submit their high school transcripts or a copy of their GED, an accumulative GPA of 2.6 (for most institutions, though some standards may be higher or lower) or show they are in the top 60% of their class ranking, their SAT/ACT score (again, standards for score requirements are set by each school individually).

Exam/Experience Needed for an Online Network Administration Degree

network_administration_experience There are no exam or experience requirements for a network administrator degree. However, you should be able to complete an internship while attending college, which will help you to gain some hands-on experience. Employers will usually hire the applicant with the most experience. You also may take some certification exams voluntarily or by an employer’s request.

It takes years of training to earn a degree in almost any field. Your educational path never has to end as you can always take refresher courses to continue your education and stay up-to-date with new innovation and technology. Moreover, as you move up the educational ladder you gain knowledge, get a better degree, and earn a higher salary though each degree will cost a little more than the last.

Degree Type Tution Salary
Associate’s $20,000 $40,000
Bachelor's $21,000 $1,22,000
Master's $30,000 $1,25,000

Online Associates Degree in Network Administration

An online associate’s degree will prepare you for supporting, servicing, and maintaining computer networks that are on a wired or wireless network connection while sharing information with each other.

An online associates of science in computer network administration is the most common associate’s degree offered in this field. Programs generally combine hands-on computer related experience with classroom instruction for students to learn installation as well as troubleshooting techniques used to resolve software and hardware issues, and how to maintain and secure PC networks to keep hackers from accessing important information. A high school diploma or GED is required to participate in this program.

Example Online Courses

  • VPN Configuration
  • Server Implementation
  • Technical Support Software
  • Wireless Network Configuration
  • Wired Network Installation
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Online Bachelor’s Degree in Network Administration

Students enrolled in the online bachelor’s network administration program learn to manipulate, maintain, and blend different network parts together for both communication and security. This program will involve large and small networks of only a few computers to international business computer networks.

Common titles of degrees include a Bachelor of Science in network and computer security and a B.S. in System Administration and Computer Networking. To qualify you will need letters of recommendation, along with a high school diploma, SAT or ACT scores, a personal essay, and transcripts from high school with an associate’s degree preferred.

Example Online Courses

  • Cyber Security
  • Routers and Switches
  • Network Communications
  • Windows Networking
  • Network Design
  • Information Technology Diagnostics
  • Administering SQL Databases
  • Visual Basic or C++
  • Digital Communications
  • Linux Operating System
  • Database Administration
  • Information Security

Computer Programming, Information Security, Communications, Information Technology, Software/Hardware Engineering, Web Design, Development, and Computer Science

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Online Master’s Degree in Network Administration

Students who wish to pursue a master’s in network administration can select a master of science in security system information, network security, and computer information in computer science, or a master of computer science.

With these programs, students will learn how to implement and design security software, identify computer system security risks, use technology and the tools necessary to minimize security threats and potential risks, and also learn about compliance, regulations, and the factors and technology that affect risks.

To qualify, students must submit GRE scores and hold a bachelor’s degree, have a strong knowledge of network administration, computer systems, and possibly information technology as well. Thus, some master’s degree programs will also require additional prerequisite courses like Java and basic communications programming.

Example Online Courses

  • Advanced Network Defense Systems
  • Data Systems & Computer Networks
  • Network Security
  • Information Assurance
  • Network Analysis, Design, and Programming
  • Information Security Management

Network Security, Risk Management, Governance and Compliance, and Computer Security

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Network Administrator Careers and Salary

The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) expects employment in the computer and information technology sectors, to rise by 13% from 2016 to 2026 and they also project that from 2012 to 2021, employment for all computers and mathematical positions will grow by 18%.

Degree Type Tution Salary
Associate’s $37,807 $65,320
Bachelor's $67,240 $75,829
Master's $70,961 $76,676

Field of Study Median Annual Salaries

Network and Systems Administration $38,416 $51,312 $67,607
IT Management $89,094 $111,942 $118,409
Computer Network Architect $86,105 $105,709 $126,208
Cyber Security $58,868 $68,188 $81,069
Computer Science $90,475 $104,452 $122,213

Fields of Study and Occupations

  • Network Systems Administration/Administrator:
    Professionals in this field control permissions, security, hardware and software updates, etc. for a company’s technology network.
  • IT Management:
    Professionals in this field are often responsible for entire IT departments. They manage security professionals and also direct the actions of IT support staff in hospitals, large companies, or call centers.

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  • Computer Network Architect:
    Network architects create the framework of computer hardware meant to support a company network. They may also make decisions on software, but their main goal is to create a custom network to support the work of a specific company or sector.
  • Cyber Security:
    Whether a business is big or small, there is almost always proprietary information that they need to limit access to. This may be as simple as limiting permissions to databases, or as complicated as building nearly impenetrable firewalls, with ongoing testing to make sure there are no breaches.
  • Software Developer/Engineer:
    These professionals build proprietary processes and building blocks into an intuitive program with a usable interface that any employee or purchaser can be trained to use.

Salary by Occupation

OCCUPATION Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Software Engineer $76,000 $94,500 $113,500
Network Administrator $49,500 $61,000 $71,400
Network Engineer $59,300 $76,700 $91,800
Computer Architect Designer $96,800 $121,000 $142,300
Software Developer $62,500 $82,400 $97,600

Important Questions to Ask (FAQ)

How long does it take to earn a Network Administration bachelor’s degree online?

The program to earn an online bachelor’s degree in network administration will provide you with advanced coursework and training to lay the foundation of your career. Core topics include software analysis, database administration, IT business, object-oriented programming, and technical communication. Students participate in group collaboration, classroom discussions, internships, and laboratory work where they develop skills through hands-on experiences.

The conventional degree usually requires around 120 credits that takes four years for full-time students to complete and six years for part-time students, but there are also accelerated degree programs that you can take to earn your degree in as little as two to three years.

How much does an online Network Administration bachelor’s degree cost?

network_administration_cost An online bachelor’s degree program in Network administration costs annually, on average, $21,000 for out-of-state students; therefore, $84,000 is the estimated average cost of a four-year degree program. If you attend a college in your state, it will cost an average of $9,970 annually.

Does the school have the major(s) you’re considering?

In the majority of colleges and institutions, students are not required to choose a major when they start. However, if you know what you want to major in, you should check with the school you are considering, making sure they have that major, as all colleges have different programs and courses, usually based on regionally popular courses of study. Although most colleges will allow you to change majors later, they all have different policies, and some candidates stand to lose financial aid by switching majors more than a few times. Therefore, it is a good idea to check with the university representative before deciding on which college to attend.

How many students graduate “on time,” in four years?

Most online bachelor’s degree programs require 120 credits to complete, which would mean earning 30 credits per semester in order to graduate in four years. Yet most students only earn 12 credits per year, which causes them to fall behind. According to some sources, every year a student spends in college costs them an average of $68,153. For this reason, a good college should have a program planner or academic advisor that will sit with you and plan your courses out, so you won’t have to spend any more time than needed to earn your degree.

What kind of accreditation does the online program hold? How is it regarded in the field?

Accreditation is a voluntary process that is requested by schools to be validated by a higher learning agency who will evaluate the school and then decide if it is worthy of their approval. A peer review board made up of members from a variety of accredited colleges and university faculty set the standards for accreditation and aid in evaluating each school candidate. If the school meets all the standards and requirements, they will be accredited by the institution, which is like putting a stamp of approval on it. Generally, the criteria associations look for when evaluating schools are:

  • Education Quality
  • Student Admissions Requirements
  • Faculty Reputation
  • The Colleges Overall Mission
  • Students Services Available
  • Goals and Objectives

Be aware when checking a school for accreditation, as there are many accreditors claiming to provide accreditation while not being approved by the US Department of Education. Without this approval, accreditation is pointless and will not allow you to receive federal student aid or transfer your credits to a master’s program later on. Getting an education from a school that has no accreditation can be like not getting an education at all since many employers will base employment on who accredited the school where you earned your degree.

For these reasons, it is imperative that you check for accreditors yourself before making a choice of what college to attend rather than going by what the school claims.

You can check for a school’s accreditation by visiting the National Association of Attorney’s General or the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited post-secondary institutions and programs; Search by an institution, or by the accrediting agency.

Software, Technology and Skills Needed

There are certain skills that every Network administrator should possess. They should also have in-depth knowledge of new technology and software programs.

  • Computer Language, Fluency, and Coding
    Almost all computer careers begin with fluency in a common computer language and coding, which is easiest to learn by actually writing code.
  • Creativity
    Being able to think outside the box is the essence of creativity. Network administrators need to look elsewhere for solutions even if it means creating their own.
  • Math
    Without math skills, having a career that involves computers would be impossible since it is the foundation on which computers are built.
  • Science & Engineering
    Network administrators should also have good knowledge of electrical and mechanical engineering along with a basic understanding of science.
  • Communication
    Communication skills are crucial to most any career, as everyone has to deal with clients, peers, co-workers, or others in any field.
  • Critical Thinking
    To be able to decide on effective solutions, computer professionals should know how to analyze and examine all issues and ideas, which takes critical thinking.
  • Problem Solving
    Like critical thinking, problem-solving also involves deep thought to find solutions to problems that may be complex or difficult.
  • Time Management
    The ability to plan and prioritize is necessary to manage your time effectively and computer experts usually have their hands full of things to do.


  • Juniper Network Engineering Scholarship
    Amount: Up to $5,000 annually (10 awards)
    Deadline: February 20

    Sponsored by the “Silicon Valley Community Foundation.” This scholarship is available to students with a major in network technology, engineering technology, or engineering who are leaders capable of taking on even the toughest community challenges.

    To qualify, applicants must maintain at least a GPA of 3.5 in high school, be successful in stem-related courses, be a U.S. citizen interested in enrolling in a four-year program of an accredited university, and demonstrate community service involvement. In addition, applicants from the following selective counties only will be considered for acceptance; Virginia, New Jersey, California, and Massachusetts.

    For more information contact

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  • Xerox Technical Minority Scholarships
    Amount: $1,000-$10,000
    Deadline: September 30

    To qualify, students must be a minority of Hispanic, African American, Native American, Pacific Islander, Asian American, or Alaskan Native descent, pursuing a Ph.D., M.S, or B.S degree in information science, engineering, information security, computer science, network management, information technology, computer forensics, software engineering, or related areas. Also, they must have financial needs that are unmet, be enrolled in an accredited four-year U.S institution full-time program, and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or more.

    For more information contact

  • VIP Women in Technology Scholarship
    Amount: $2,500
    Deadline: April 1

    “Visionary Integration Professionals” (VIP) created this scholarship program for outstanding female applicants pursuing a career in management information systems, network management, information technology, computer engineering, computer science, or related areas.

    To qualify, students must maintain at least a GPA of 3.0, have technology potential, and be attending a two to a four-year university in the U.S. with community service participation. Chosen recipients are based on extra-curricular activities, personal qualifications, academic achievement, essay responses, their goals, and their future career choice.

    For more information contact

Professional Organizations

  • AITP
  • NPA
  • NPA

CompTIA Association for IT Professionals

CompTIA Association for IT Professionals

This is a leading association for students enrolled in IT programs and IT professionals


Network and Professionals Association

Network and Professionals Association

This association provides IT and computer networking professionals with industry literature, trade shows, conferences, and training programs.


Networking Professional Association (NPA)

Networking Professional Association (NPA)

The NPA is a leading global network association that provides computer-networking professionals with career-building tools such as leadership opportunities, member-only software, industry conferences, and more.

Choosing an Accredited College

It is imperative that you search for an accredited college that is committed to helping you achieve a successful career. Here are six very important questions to ask when interviewing colleges.

  • Is the college accredited?
    An accredited school has quality educational programs that meet high standards in order to be approved by the bigger associations, so attending an accredited school means your degree is also high quality and meets standards.

  • What are the program's on-time graduation rates?
    This is probably the best question to ask since every extra year spent earning your degree in college will cost you on average $15,933 for two-year public colleges and $22,826 at a four-year public college.

  • Are there hidden costs?
    Even reputable colleges or institutions can have hidden costs associated with their degree programs, whether it is a lab, or technology fees, which is why it is always good to ask up front or pay the consequences, and the price, later on.

  • Will the online degree program accept your transfer credits?
    Research shows that you can reduce college debt substantially by graduating on time as intended and enrolling in direct route to graduate courses. These degree programs allow you to transfer your college credits so that you won’t have to waste time earning them again.

  • How long has the college been in business?
    Usually, if a college has been around for a while it is well established and earned its respect. Therefore, if you decide to attend such a school, it can add value to your education and make you and your reputation look good.

  • Can the online degree program help you reach your career goals?
    It is very important that you reach your career goals as fast as can be. Therefore, almost every college has career planning services that help you plan ahead for your future, so you will only spend time on taking courses that are required and nothing extra that will waste your time and money.

Online vs On-Campus vs Hybrid

There are pros and cons to everything in life. It is up to you to decide which style of learning will best suit you. When you think about it, attending college online seems to have much more benefits than attending the traditional way, on campus. Thus, most will consider the cost to be the most important factor and there is no doubt that online schools cost much less than college campuses, as online schools don’t require extra fees for labs or room and board. Also, attending college online gives you a lot more freedom to study whenever and wherever you like. Meaning you can get up and study in your pajamas at four am if you prefer to or throw a blanket on the ground in the park, prop open your giant umbrella, start up your laptop, and continue your lessons where you left off.

If you work full-time or have someone to care for, online classes allow you to study in your spare time. However, some colleges will require you to visit campus specifically for things like testing, teamwork, or hands-on training.

On the other hand, attending at your own pace may not be your best option. Going to school on a set daily schedule helps set you up for that 9 to 5 job you are pursuing while getting you used to the daily repetition before diving into a regular work schedule. Of course, you also have the option to attend hybrid, which allows for a little bit of both worlds, studying online and on campus.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect from an online bachelor’s network administration program?

These programs have no requirements from students that they have pre-existing technical knowledge. They plan to teach you from scratch everything you need to succeed in the field. However, students should expect to complete all of the same courses required of students attending traditional, on-campus programs. These courses of study transfer especially well to the online format because much of the work is already completed in a virtual environment. Students will likely find courses covering subjects such as software development, database management systems, networking and more from any college offering a network administration degree.

How do you find a job in network administration?

While there are always the tried-and-true ways of finding work, such as through networking and online job sites that list thousands of positions all over the country, another place you might consider is with professional associations. Many professional associations offer their members access to a job board. These job boards have listings from others in the association and the businesses that they work for. Some of the professional associations where network administrators might find what they’re looking for include the Association for Technology Professionals, the Network Professional Association, or the Association for Women in Computing, among others.

What should I expect from my network administration major?

In a lot of ways, this will depend on what school or program you choose. Each school creates their own curriculum, and some might include more electives or a stronger emphasis on one subject versus another. However, most of these programs end up being very similar and teaching the same types of subjects. These include technical skills, multitasking skills, cyber security, mobile or cloud systems, cryptography, access controls, network security, information manipulation, programming and programming languages, network architecture, and much more.

Why get a degree in network administration?

One of the best reasons for earning one of these types of degrees is to have a great chance of having a lucrative career once you leave school. Not only do large and small companies alike need network administrators, but your new knowledge in cyber security will give you access to a huge trove of career options down the road. As cyber-attacks increase every year, anyone with a base of knowledge in the cyber security field will have the opportunity to shift their career into this field. And, even if this isn’t of interest to you, it’s not like networks are going away.

Does the College Have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help & Assistance?

most colleges and universities have a career planning service to assist students with job placement and whatever else is needed to help you land the dream job you are pursuing. What you need to know is, does the job placement service have your best educational/career interests in mind, or do they just want you to believe that they do? Talk to the staff in job placement and if they are not interested in your career as much as you would like them to be, then you may consider moving on to a school with a better online program. Services should include some of the following:

  • Career Planning
  • Major/Career Exploration
  • Internship Search Assistance
  • Job Search Assistance
  • Resume Assistance
  • Cover Letter Assistance
  • Interview Preparation

Why You Need to Consider How Rating/Accreditation Can Affect Your Salary

The first and foremost reason why it is important to earn your degree from an accredited college or university is to obtain financial aid, unless you plan on paying for your tuition straight out of pocket, which could clear your pockets out quicker than you think. If the school you enroll in is not accredited, you will not be eligible for financial aid. Another important factor is that many employers prefer to hire individuals with a degree from an accredited institution, so they know they are getting their money’s worth by putting you on the payroll. Keep in mind that your education and degree may only as good as the college accreditor.

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