These programs give students a foundational knowledge in computer systems technology and prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the field or for further education. Through classes and lab experiences, students in associate's degree programs learn to install and maintain computer systems, utilize software applications and develop networks. Bachelor's degree programs build on these skills through course topics such as website design and database administration.
Associate's Degree in Computer Systems Technology
Entry into an associate's degree program typically requires a high school diploma, GED, or demonstrated competence in computers and mathematics.
An associate's degree program in computer systems technology, which usually lasts around two years, provides an introduction to personal computers as free standing devices and as nodes on a network. Program content covers the assembly and maintenance of computer hardware, the installation and configuration of operating systems, the use of software applications and network implementation. Lab courses develop students' skills in troubleshooting and solving technical problems.
Most associate's degree curricula contain concentrated studies in programming, networking and basic systems administration. Supporting courses in telecommunications and mathematics are part of some computer systems technology programs. A few common and specialized topics include:
- PC assembly and maintenance
- Operating systems
- Software applications
- Computer networking
- Programming language fundamentals
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Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems Technology
Bachelor's degree programs in computer systems technology build upon content learned in associate's degree programs. Curricula explore advanced topics, such as database administration, web development, computer forensics and graphic design. Structurally, most programs are organized to emphasize either networking or programming. Internships provide students an opportunity to apply computer skills in actual work settings. A bachelor's degree may be earned in four years, though associate degree-holders may complete the program in two years.
Most programs will require a high school diploma, GED, or similar experience for entry. In a transfer program, you will likely need an associate's degree as well as coursework in fields like composition, math, and computing. Computer systems technology programs typically last between two and four years depending on transfer status and previous studies.
General education electives in business, the humanities and social sciences are part of most bachelor's degree programs. The major may include the following course topics:
- Network security
- Local and wide area network configuration
- Client/server technology
- Networking and Internet protocol technology
- Data structures
- C++, Java and Visual Basic languages
Popular Career Options
Graduates of an associate's degree program in computer systems technology qualify for job opportunities with any type of organization that uses computers. Some businesses and industries that may employ those with an academic background in technology include:
- Computer services
- Non-profit organizations
- Government agencies
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in computer systems technology often qualify for positions as database, computer systems and network administrators. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported database administrators earned an average of $84,250 in 2015, while network and computer systems administrators brought in an average of $82,200. Between 2014 and 2024, database administration positions are estimated to increase 11% and network and computer systems administrator jobs 8%, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Credits earned in an associate's degree program may be applied toward a bachelor's degree in computer systems technology. Many schools that host bachelor's programs in this major design the curriculum to continue education from the associate's degree level. Some associate's degree programs specifically prepare graduates for professional certification, such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate, Cisco Certified Network Professional or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.
Bachelor's degree-holders may advance into management positions by earning a master's degree. Master's programs in computer engineering, computer science or database administration provide technology-based learning in the field with some supervisory training. Alternately, many schools offer a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in information technology for those interested primarily in management of technical departments and projects.
Obtaining an associate's or bachelor's degree in computer systems technology can prepare you for entry-level positions in careers in manufacturing, computer services, schools, government agencies, and more.