Training in computer network systems can be found through associate and bachelor's degree programs, as well as graduate certificate programs. Associate and bachelor's degree programs usually require a high school diploma or equivalent for admission, but graduate certificate programs may require that you hold a bachelor's degree.
An associate degree program will prepare you for entry-level positions. In this program, you will learn about the technical aspects of networks. Courses may cover maintenance, security and programming. Typically, students complete this degree program in 2-3 years.
A bachelor's degree program will cover the basics of networking techniques and theories. This degree will allow you to get administrator positions.
Certificate programs allow you to expand your skills in the field of networking. These programs will help you develop skills in administration and design. A certificate will help you get into positions like network systems administrator or network security analyst. Students generally complete the requirements for a certificate within one year.
Associate of Applied Science in Network Technology
Courses in these programs explore maintaining business communication networks and feature classroom learning, as well as laboratory classes, where students can practice skills. Classes may emphasize systems security techniques, scripting and business management skills through the following courses:
- Programming in C+
- Shell commands and scripting
- Local area networks (LAN)
- Wide area networks (WAN)
- Switching and routing
- Network security
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
A Bachelor of Science in Computer Science provides students with an overview of technical skills related to application design and operating systems. Students interested in computer network systems design and maintenance may tailor their degree to their interests through selecting elective courses or concentrations in networking and data communication technology.
Generally, students complete core requirements in the humanities, science and mathematics in their first two years. Computer science courses cover algorithms, programming languages, data structures and computer organization. Other classes include:
- Programming in Java
- Database management
- Programming in C++
- Computer communication systems
- Unix operating systems
Graduate Certificate in Computer Networking and Systems Administration
Individuals interested in furthering their knowledge of network systems administration and setup may pursue a graduate certificate in computer networking and systems administration. Courses emphasize computer communications, networks management and information security.
Programs cater to computing professionals with little prior experience in network technology. The programs provide technical instruction in network administration, design and troubleshooting, along with the following:
- Computer network communication
- WAN and LAN network setup
- Network security
- Telecommunication management
Popular Career Options
Graduates can use their network skills and knowledge of systems security in several industries such as computer systems design and business organization. Popular career options available include:
- Network technician
- Telecommunication systems technician
- Network planner
Certificate graduates are qualified for entry- to mid-level networking administration positions in computer design, telecommunications and information technology companies. Typical job titles available include:
- Network systems administrator
- Network security analyst
- Network Operations Center (NOC) technician
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of a certificate program may choose to enter the workforce immediately or they can continue their management education through a master's degree program. Master's degree programs provide graduates with advanced theoretical and practical knowledge in wireless networks, management, network applications and network security.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Job opportunities in this field are available with many types of employers, including private firms and government agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of network and systems administrators was expected to increase 8% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that in May 2015, the median annual wage of network and systems administrators was $77,810.
Those in an associate's program in computer network systems will learn about the technical aspects of networks, while bachelor's-level students will discover theories and techniques in the field. Graduate certificate programs cover administration and design, and make students eligible for work as systems security analysts and administrators.