Learn about the educational requirements for network administrators, common curriculum for the degree programs, salary information, and job outlook.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many employers prefer or require network administrators to have a bachelor's degree, but some individuals may find jobs with only an associate's degree or certificate, especially when paired with related work experience.
However, those with less than a four-year degree may have to advance to network administrator positions over time. Certificates allow individuals to qualify for jobs as entry-level technicians and may choose to accelerate their careers by applying their credits towards an associate's degree program. Many associate's degree programs can be completed in two years. However, with some courses waived due to prior certificate program training, prospective network administrators can complete schooling and aim for higher-level positions in a shorter amount of time. In addition, some universities offer online bachelor's degrees for students who have completed some college education, work experience, or a combination of the two.
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Degree programs require students to complete general education credits, electives, and potentially some experiential work, such as an internship or capstone project. Students may find a degree specifically in network administration or a broader field like computer science with a specialization in networking. On the other hand, certificate programs usually only require core classes.
Either way, coursework found at all levels of undergraduate schooling covers topics such as local and wide area networks, networking essentials, network administration, servers, operating systems, and telecommunications.
According to PayScale.com, the median salary for network administrators was $56,576 as of March 2017, but salary can vary depending upon an employee's location. For example, the median salary for network administrators in New York City was reported as $64,690, while in Dallas it was $62,367. Other median salaries by city include:
- Atlanta: $54,182
- Chicago: $60,868
- Houston: $60,855
- Seattle: $56,614
- Miami: $53,665
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment of network administrators was projected to grow 8% between 2014 and 2024. Much of this growth is expected to come from investments in new technologies and the healthcare industry's increasing use of information technology systems. However, it's important that these professionals keep up with technology trends, skills, and certifications if they want to remain relevant to the workforce. Most network administrators have a bachelor's degree, but some can find work with an associate's degree or certificate in the field. Aspiring network administrators can expect positive job growth in the field, as well as a median salary greater than $50,000.