Students in associate's degree programs in computer and communication technology might develop skills that pertain to all areas of networking, including the installation and configuration of Internet clients, routers and TCP/IP protocol. Some programs may offer internship opportunities. Applicants must have a high school diploma or its GED equivalent.
Associate's Degree in Computer & Communication Technology
Associate's degree programs in computer and communication technology educate students in electronic principles, telecommunications technologies and computer security tools. Students could learn to design wide area networks (WAN), program and repair computers and work with computer operating systems, such as UNIX. Curricula concentrate on topics in applied electronics, computer architecture and networking technology, but schools may also offer courses in mathematics, composition, business communications and science. Students may find courses such as:
- Digital applications
- Network structure
- Network communication
- Data file
- Digital forensics
Popular Career Options and Salary Information
A variety of businesses, organizations and industries rely on computer networks and telecommunication technology, and graduates may be employed in a wide range of environments. Graduates may qualify for the following entry-level positions:
- Telecommunications support specialist
- Telecommunications analyst
- Computer hardware technical specialist
Reporting about telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that these workers are projected to see 4% employment decline over the 2014-2024 period (www.bls.gov), likely because wireless and mobile technologies require less installation than landlines, and because equipment is more durable than it used to be, so it requires less repair. In May 2015, the BLS reported that telecommunications equipment installers and repairers earned a median salary of $54,570 per year.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Graduates may wish to earn voluntary certifications; while voluntary, many employers treat such certifications as hiring requirements. The CompTIA A+ certification validates basic knowledge and skills that are relevant to the IT support industry. The CompTIA Network+ certification credential authenticates an individual's understanding of network technologies. The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) examination confirms one's ability to install, operate, configure and troubleshoot medium-sized switched and route networks.
Individuals who wish to pursue careers as computer systems and network administrators may wish to earn a bachelor's degree in computer and communications technology or a related field. Some employers may allow workers with enough relevant experience to advance to higher positions; however, many prefer to hire individuals with bachelor's degrees, stated the BLS.
By providing both general education and a comprehensive overview of the IT field, associate's degree programs in computer and communication technologies qualify graduates for entry-level jobs and prepare them for industry-specific certification exams. They also prepare graduates to transfer to similar programs at the bachelor's degree level.