An information technology (IT) associate's program with a networking concentration is designed to deliver a solid understanding of programming, network theory, the use of hardware devices and the installation of hardware and software on a computer network. The program curriculum includes coursework and laboratory experiences along with extensive hands-on computer training. Students may also participate in internships, externships and cooperative education programs. This two-year program is offered at community colleges and technical schools. Applicants must have high school diplomas or the equivalent for admission.
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Associate's Degree in Information Technology
This degree program provides students with the skills and knowledge to deal with both computers and people. In addition to learning to monitor computers, perform routine maintenance on computer systems, server administration, and hardware fundamentals, candidates develop the communication skills needed to work as network administrators or support specialists. Course topics may include the following:
- Information systems architecture
- Data structures and algorithms
- Local area networks (LAN)
Popular Career Options
As businesses grow, they continue to add networks to improve their efficiency and productivity and remain competitive in the global marketplace. As such, IT networking graduates may find positions in many organizations and businesses. Some common career titles include the following:
- Cisco support technician
- Computer operator
- Microsoft and network LAN administrator
- Computer and information systems manager
- Computer support specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for fields in information technology appears favorable. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for network and computer systems administrators are expected to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024. Career opportunities for computer and information systems managers may increase by 15% during that time frame. In 2015, the BLS reported an average salary of $82,200 for network and computer systems administrators, and computer and information systems managers averaged $141,000 that year.
Continuing Education Information
Although many jobs in this field require only an associate's degree and experience, the BLS states that a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is required for many positions. Therefore, graduates of associate's degree programs in IT may choose to pursue bachelor's degrees in networking engineering technology before joining the workforce. They may also obtain certification to demonstrate their skills and proficiency in the field.
Certification may be obtained through computer product vendors or independent certifying organizations. Many programs also include courses that prepare students for certification examinations. For instance, graduates of the IT networking programming may obtain the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) and the MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional), among others.
In summary, an associate's degree in IT with a concentration in networking can provide the technological training and hands-on computer experience you need for an entry level job or entrance into a bachelor's degree or certificate program.