Associate's degree programs in computer networking, and bachelor's and master's degree programs in information systems have some common topics, such as computer forensics, programming and database management. Associate's programs in computer networking and security management focus more on IT topics, while bachelor's and master's programs in information systems include a blend of IT and business-oriented coursework. Graduates of these programs may be prepared for certification through organizations like Microsoft. The prerequisites vary according to degree level.
Associate's programs usually lead to entry-level work as a help-desk technician or a related position. A bachelor's or master's degree could prepare students for network and systems administration careers.
Associate Degree in Computer Networking and Security Management
Students in this program learn basic computer security principles and prepare for entry-level positions in information technology and network security. Principles of protection cover both physical hardware and software programs intended to detect anomalies in computer systems.
Associate degree programs train students to manage threats to information security by routinely monitoring systems for irregularities, storing data safely, restricting access to information and installing firewalls. Core curricula include:
- Computer forensics
- Cyber law
- Network infrastructure
- Security administration
Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems
Students in 4-year bachelor's degree programs learn everything from designing and installing a computer system to maintaining and administrating the network. Technology is constantly changing to keep up with new threats, so students learn to deter cyber crime before it takes place. Students learn both offensive and defensive network security in courses such as:
- Database management
- Network security design
- Organization of information systems
- Server administration
- Systems analysis
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Master's Degree in Computer Information Systems
Master's degree candidates gain a thorough understanding of how to secure a network by learning everything from the basic elements of fixing computers to the ethical implications of data storage. Going beyond a basic understanding, students are exposed to legal policies regarding hacking and social engineering. Data recovery techniques are also covered in graduate degree programs.
Coursework is specifically geared toward teaching advanced security protocols and minimizing potential security liabilities. Future security breaches are limited by teaching students to fix computer issues without the need to send equipment to an outside specialist. Coursework includes:
- Computer forensics
- Information systems design
- Intrusion detection
- Legal policy
Popular Career Options
Graduates of associate's programs in computer networking and security management are eligible for entry-level positions in systems administration. These jobs involve providing technical assistance and help make networks more efficient and secure. Common positions include:
- Help desk technician
- Systems administrator
- Technical support specialist
Network security professionals trained in master's degree programs are qualified to work in management positions. Career opportunities may be available as:
- Chief security officers
- Network administrators
- System administrators
- Security architects
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for information security analysts was projected to increase by 18% from 2014-2024, while opportunities for computer and information systems managers were expected to rise 15% during the same time period. BLS salary data showed that the mean annual wages for information security analysts and computer systems managers were $93,250 and $141,000, respectively, in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
The technology field involves constant evolution of operating systems and programming languages. Microsoft certification is a requirement to work on site at some locations. Applicable certification levels for information technology professionals range from technology associate to technology architect.
Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs that focus on computer security management prepare students for careers as administrators, security officers and technicians. Job outlook for those who become computer and information systems managers and information security analysts is favorable.