It may be challenging to find computer science and networking technology studies within one associate's degree program. However, students can pursue degrees such as the Associate in Computer Science or the Associate of Applied Science in Networking Technology.
AS in Computer Science programs address computer networking and programming theories, while AAS in Networking Technology programs focus on information management and telecommunications infrastructure. Most programs consist of both classroom instruction and laboratory experiences, and some require students to complete a hands-on internship before graduation.
The minimum admissions requirement for both programs is a high school diploma or GED. However, some schools may have additional requirements.
Associate's Degree in Computer Science
AS programs in computer science may be intended for students who want to join the workforce after graduation or continue their education and transfer to a bachelor's degree program. Students gain an understanding of computers, their parts and how they work. Programs further focus on basic concepts in computer networking, computer programming and data structures through classroom and computer lab work. Some programs offer areas of concentration, such as computer languages, software development, web technologies or systems administration and engineering.
In an AS in Computer Science program, a student must typically complete a set of core coursework before any elective courses or specialization options can be taken. Common classes include:
- Information management and technology
- Functional language programming
- Digital logic
- Design and maintenance of databases
- Computer networking
- Discrete structures
Associate's Degree in Networking Technology
AAS in Networking Technology programs focus on computer hardware and the affiliated components that allow for the flow of communications - voice, data, pictures and video - across telecommunications infrastructure. Students learn how to design, install and configure components like switches, bridges or routers and associated operating systems to create reliable and efficient local- and wide-area networks.
Instruction in the network management of certain vendor-specific systems may also be included. Areas of specialization are sometimes offered and can include Microsoft- and Cisco-certified IT professional tracks, data storage and virtualization.
In addition to general education courses in subjects like business and composition, students take classes in the hardware and software required to establish and manage networked environments. Course options can include:
- C++ programming and Java programming
- Windows administration and Linux administration
- Networking and routing basics
- Routing and switching
- Computer programming and logic
Popular Career Options
Graduates of networking technology programs may be qualified for entry level jobs within a computer networking environment. Job options can include:
- Network operator
- Network analyst
- Network technician
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
An associate degree program in computer science can prepare graduates to work in various entry-level computer positions, including computer support specialist. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that these professionals would see 12% employment growth from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than the national average for job growth. In May 2015, the BLS stated that computer user support specialists earned a mean annual salary of $51,820.
Continuing Education Information
For students who'd like to start a career in network and computer systems administration, computer hardware or software development, web development, database administration or computer systems management, a 4-year bachelor's degree is frequently the minimum educational requirement, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree usually builds on the concepts introduced at the associate's degree level. Associate's degree graduates may also be able to transfer into a bachelor's degree completion program in a field like computer information systems. Programs may require an internship or co-op work experience.
Vendor-specific professional certification for network products is available. Additional training, experience or testing may be required in order to qualify for certification.
Whether you choose an AS in Computer Science of an AAS in Networking Technology, you can gain essential computer skills that provide the necessary foundation for entry-level IT jobs or bachelor's degree programs in related fields.