Through classroom instruction and hands-on labs, students in network administration programs can learn about networking infrastructures, routing, enterprise networks and operating systems. Certificate programs generally consist of 1-5 courses and can be completed in less than one year; associate's programs typically require two years of full-time study. Both of these programs may prepare students for professional certification through an organization like Cisco and CompTIA.
Certificate in Network Administration
A certificate program in network administration investigates the theories and practices used in network administration, including network protocols, network addresses, routing and dial access services. Students gain experience in network system analysis, maintenance and design. Skills in recognizing, evaluating and controlling microcomputer networks are also developed. Program coursework includes hands-on instruction in networked computer labs. Topics covered during a certificate program in network administration typically include:
- Networking fundamentals
- Operating systems and utilities
- Networking infrastructure
- Local area networks
- Wide area networks
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Associate of Applied Science in Network Administration
An associate's degree program in network administration introduces students to the technology and equipment used within the computer networking industry. Students develop skills in networking fundamentals, computer integration, programming and systems management. Program coursework combines general education courses with focused instruction on key principles and concepts in network administration. Topics covered include:
- UNIX and Linux operating systems
- Internet server administration
- Computer security
- Routing protocols
- Enterprise network services
Popular Career Options
Individuals with a certificate in network administration are prepared for entry-level positions in network installation, management, training and user support. Job opportunities may include:
- Network technician
- Help desk support
- Local area network (LAN) specialist
Employment and Salary Information
Graduates with an associate's degree in network administration are prepared for entry-level positions that involve monitoring and maintaining computer network systems. Career opportunities include technical support, network administrator and systems analyst. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of network and computer systems administrators was projected to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that as of May 2015, network and computer systems administrators earned a mean annual salary of $82,200.
Certificate graduates are prepared to take industry certification exams offered through Microsoft and the Linux Professional Institute. The Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator credential requires graduates to complete networking and operating system exams.
Some network and systems administrator positions require individuals to have a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, such as computer science, management information systems or information technology. These types of bachelor's degree programs typically take four years to complete. Transfer students from a completed associate's degree program often complete a bachelor's program in as little as two years. The curriculum for a bachelor's degree in one of these fields typically includes courses in mathematics, computer programming, computer science and computer engineering. Additionally, associate's graduates are prepared to obtain professional certifications from a variety of computer technology associations, such as Microsoft, Cisco and CompTIA.
Students who are interested in network administration may pursue a certificate or associate's degree program. Both will provide training in the knowledge and skills necessary to manage local area networks, Internet systems, and wide area networks.