Many schools offer associate's degree programs in network systems administration, networking technology and network engineering that can be completed entirely online. Students can watch class videos and download course materials as their schedules permit. The lengths of these programs vary, but usually require a little more than two years of full-time study. Program-specific software may be required.
In a network systems administration program, courses cover developing, installing and maintaining an organization's computer network, and they usually cover information systems security as well. Students learn to monitor performance and troubleshoot problems. Some associate's degree programs give students the skills they need to take professional certification exams, such as those offered by Microsoft or Cisco.
Associate's Degree in Network Systems Administration
Students enrolled in this technology-based program will learn about the maintenance of network software and hardware, how to configure different types of networks and how to troubleshoot networks. They may even be prepared to take industry certification exams for specific companies after graduation. When searching for a program, students may want to also look for network administration programs.
Program Information and Requirements
These programs require around 65 credit hours for graduation. The length of time it takes to complete the program will depend on the individual, since one student make take a typical semester's worth of credit hours while another may only take one or two classes. These programs can be completed in their entirety online.
Because individuals will be required to interact with fellow students and professors via online discussion boards and e-mail, they will require an Internet connection with enough speed to facilitate the loading of the necessary website and web-based applications in a timely manner. Many schools will require students to have a certain operating system, webcam and microphone. Online course programs may only be accessed through certain types of Internet browsers.
Coursework for this program will focus on defining, building and troubleshooting computer networks. Other courses may be required in math and computing. Some programs may include business classes as well, and all programs will require students to complete general education courses.
A general computer class covers basic computer terminology and usage. Students learn to use certain operating systems and hardware and software concepts may be discussed. Productivity software may be covered, as may more advanced concepts like programming languages.
Operating systems courses cover different types of operating systems and the differences between them. It may discuss issues such as network security, troubleshooting and installing software. This kind of class may also include lab work.
Students enrolled in a networking introduction course obtain the foundational skills to take high-level courses. The class covers topics involving basic terminology and concepts within the field. In addition to classroom time, the course may also include lab work.
Graduates holding an associate's degree in network systems administration have a number of job options. Besides working in the network systems administration field, they may seek positions in areas like network security or computer support.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of network system administration positions in the U.S. is expected to grow 8% from 2014 to 2024, while computer support specialist positions would increase by 12%. In 2015, the BLS released median salary information for the field and reported that network systems administrators made around $77,810 annually. Computer support specialists received a median income of approximately $51,470 per year.
Continuing Education Information
Some network systems administration programs may prepare you for industry certifications, including the Cisco Certified Network Associate designation. In order to receive official certification, students will need to sit for the exam after they have successfully completed their program. Because these certifications are valued highly among employers in the field, students are encouraged to take these exams after graduating from a program. One such program would be the Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional, which may also be completed online.
For those who wish to pursue a 4-year degree, online programs in network administration are available. Beyond this, some schools offer online programs for graduate certificates in computer networks.
Online programs in networking technology, network engineering and network systems administration are commonly available at the associate's degree level. These programs emphasize the fundamentals of installing, configuring, maintaining and securing different types of computerized networks.