A 2-year associate's degree program in information technology or network systems teaches students to analyze technology systems, identify potential problems, run updates, and replace faulty computer components. Through classes and hands-on training, they learn to maintain local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN). Applicants with the equivalent of high school diplomas are usually eligible for associate's degree programs.
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Associate's In Network Systems & Solutions Development Overview
Since information technology implies such a broad field of study, most associate's degree programs cover general topics, such as operating systems, computer components, maintenance and networking. While employment opportunities exist for graduates, most jobs in this field require a bachelor's degree or higher. Continuing education is also important for keeping up with industry development and new technology. Most information technology professionals earn certifications in an area of specialization.
Common coursework may include:
- Software development, database design
- Database management, system administration
- Programming languages
- Network security
- Technical support concepts
- Information systems management
Career Options and Outlook
Associate's degree program graduates are eligible for entry-level positions within the information technology (IT) departments of many businesses, schools and government organizations. Some graduates may choose to start their own computer repair businesses or work as independent contractors. Potential job titles for this industry include computer support specialist, network systems administrator and network operations analyst.
In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that computer user support specialists, including help-desk technicians and network support specialists, earned a mean annual salary of $52,430. The BLS projects employment of computer support specialists will increase by 12% during the 2014-2024 decade.
Continuing Education Information
Information from the BLS showed that information technology professionals with associate's degrees possess the skills for most lower-level positions, but many employers are starting to prefer applicants with bachelor's or master's degrees in information systems management, computer sciences or information technology (www.bls.gov). The BLS also stated that some employers prefer applicants with academic training related to both business and information technology.
In an ever-changing industry, computer professionals must participate in continued education training to stay aware of software updates, systems changes and legal issues related to the technology industry. Although certification is not necessarily required, the BLS pointed out how most professionals earn certifications related to their field of specialty. For example, programmers often become certified in programming languages. Trade organizations and product manufacturers generally provide certification programs; becoming certified usually requires that eligible applicants pass written exams or practical skills tests.
Graduates with an associate's degree in network systems and solutions development are prepared to begin entry-level careers in fields such as computer support and network systems administration or to continue their education in a bachelor's degree program.