Computer Network Operations Degree and Certificate Programs

Oct 20, 2019

Essential Information

Graduates of certificate or degree programs might go on to sit for professional certification examinations offered by CompTIA, Windows, Oracle or other third-party computing organizations. Students enrolled in 2-year associate's degree programs generally cover a broad range of computer and networking technologies and theory. Baccalaureate programs in computer networking typically emphasize information security. A high school diploma or equivalent is required for entry into these programs.

Certificate of Proficiency in Computer Network Administration

A certificate program in computer network administration equips students with the technical skills necessary to provide information technology (IT) support for computer hardware and software, as well as server and connectivity administration. Graduates are often prepared for various industry certification exams based on professional interest. Courses introduce basic computing and networking concepts that provide students with skills in troubleshooting and configuring various computer connections. Specific course topics include:

  • Computer connectivity
  • Local area networking
  • Networking protocols
  • Operating system technologies

Associate's Degree in Computer Network Operations

Some schools offer work co-op opportunities to expose students to the field. In some cases, credit could transfer to a bachelor's degree program at a 4-year university. Earning an associate's degree requires students to complete a combination of computer networking courses in conjunction with general education requirements. Course topics include:

  • UNIX, Linux and Windows operating systems
  • Network security
  • Virtual private networking
  • Technical support procedures
  • Wireless networks
  • Local and wide area networks

Bachelor's Degree in Computer Network Security

Bachelor's programs prepare students to administer and develop computer systems connected via wireless or wired technology. Graduates utilize various networking technologies and operating systems to manage networks for organizations of all sizes. Both didactic and hands-on laboratory work are incorporated into computer network security curricula. Classes in management, math and communications are usually required. Specific course topics include:

  • Wired and wireless networking
  • Hubs, switches and security devices
  • Programming concepts
  • Server systems
  • Database management
  • Data redundancy and backup concepts

Popular Career Options

Many industries employ systems and network support technicians to install, maintain and troubleshoot computer networks. Graduates of a certificate program could qualify for entry-level positions in a variety of computer network operations roles, including:

  • Help desk support technician
  • Network specialist
  • Computer repair technician

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an associate's degree often qualifies individuals for several technical support and administrative positions ( A few examples of possible job titles include:

  • Computer support specialist
  • Telecommunications specialist
  • Network technician
  • Network administrator

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Earning a bachelor's degree typically aids with employment opportunities and could increase a graduate's initial salary potential. According to the BLS, employment in the field of computer systems and network administration was projected to grow 5% for the decade 2018-2028. This growth may be due to the increased need for network security in public and private industry. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for network and computer systems administrators was $82,050 as of May 2018.

Continuing Education

Professional certification is commonly preferred by employers, and networking credentials are offered at entry-level, intermediate and advanced levels. Various vendors and professional associations offer certifications based on general networking technologies and theories, as well as vendor-specific server software and networking hardware. Many credentials don't expire, though upgrades are often available as new technologies are developed and released, generally requiring recertification testing.

Students interested in computer science and networking may wish to pursue a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in computer network operations. Graduates of these programs typically become support specialists, repair technicians, and network administrators.

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