Typically referred to as systems or network systems administrators in the field of computer science, these individuals monitor computer networking systems and maintain the hardware and software responsible for these networks. Most employers seek candidates who have an associate's or bachelor's degree in a related field. Candidates may consider pursuing vendor certification to further demonstrate their professional competence, such as CompTIA or Microsoft.
Prerequisites for a program in Computer Administration include a high school diploma or GED and a strong background in math and science. The length for the associate's degree is 2-years and the bachelor's degree is 4-years, with both degrees commonly available online or as a hybrid.
Associate's Degrees in Network Systems Administration
Students in this 2-year program can learn computer science basics and how to design networking equipment for computer systems. Instructors also teach them practical skills they can use later on the job, such as troubleshooting network problems and configuring routers. Enrollees gain exposure to various operating systems, like Microsoft Windows.
Classes typically provide an overview of the information technology field and focus on math, industry hardware, software, and network systems. Students can take such courses as:
- Local and wide area networks
- Internet networking
- Operating systems
- Routing and switch design
- Systems security
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Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Even though many systems and network administrators learn the skills necessary for the job through occupational experience, it's not uncommon for these professionals to seek a 4-year bachelor's degree to increase their opportunities and salary potential. A bachelor's degree in computer science provides a broad overview of computer systems structure and design theory. Students learn about database systems, computer communications and programming languages, such as C#, Java, and Visual Basic.
The curriculum covers liberal arts education along with computer science. Calculus and algebra play a major role in the program, and other topics may include:
- Programming languages
- Computer systems architecture
- Operating systems management
- Database structure
Popular Career Options
Most students with a degree in network systems administration can expect to find entry-level employment within the industry until they acquire experience in the field. Some positions open to graduates with an associate's degree in computer network administration include:
- Networking support specialist
- Junior systems administrator
- Database and network security professional
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates can expect to find many job opportunities in systems or network administration. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the opportunities for network and computer systems administrators are expected to increase 8% between the years of 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported in May 2015 that the median annual salary for network and computer systems administrators was $77,810 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Many computer administration professionals pursue vendor certification to demonstrate their competence in the profession. Popular vendor certification for systems and network administrators can be found through Cisco, RedHat, Microsoft and CompTIA. Most vendors recommend years of training or field experience using their systems prior to taking their exams; many also offer both classroom study and self-study options.
Both the associates and bachelor's degree programs emphasize practical application with computer networking systems in order to be prepared for a job in the computer science field. Graduates can pursue additional certification to enhance employability, while enjoying an above average income.