Certificate programs are often shorter versions of associate's degree programs, offering students similar coursework and learning objectives. These certificates will prepare students for entry-level positions in the field. Associate's degree programs in network design teach basic computer, programming and networking skills. An associate's degree is a good preparation for a technician, designer, or analyst position. A bachelor's degree program covers the basic topics, like an associate's degree program does, but also has a practical work component to show students how to apply their education to real-world situations. A bachelor's degree program prepares students to become web developers and computer network architects.
Certificate Program in Network Design
Some certificate programs are specifically designed for advanced training and students will not be admitted without previous completion of a bachelor's degree program. Advanced certificate programs may allow for course credits to be applied to related graduate degree programs, such as network security or information technology.
Some programs focus on a specific type of system, while others cover a broad information base. Courses include subjects, such as:
- Cisco routing concepts and protocols
- Networking and data communication
- Advances in network technology
- Enterprise scale networking
- Security procedure development
Associate's Degree in Network Design
Associate's degree programs are offered by technical schools and vocational colleges. Curricula vary and some programs are designed to prepare students for A+ and Network+ certification exams. Other schools require students to have previous computer background before enrolling.
Students begin by covering basic computer skills, then progress to more in-depth lessons in networking and programming. Some of the subjects covered include:
- Unix and Linux operating systems
- TCP (transmission control protocol) and IP (internet protocol) concepts
- Information management systems
- Business applications
- Systems installation and configuration
Bachelor's Degree in Network Design
Bachelor's degree programs teach students how to apply their computer skills to solve critical issues, such as disaster recovery. Some schools incorporate training for professional certifications into the coursework.
Courses are taught at the systems management level. Some subjects include:
- Systems security
- Implementing and managing network infrastructures
- Quantitative problem-solving
- Concepts, modeling and querying of databases
- Project-related risk management strategies
The lower level certificates generally qualify students for entry-level positions listed in the associate's degree section. Other opportunities for advanced certificate holders include:
- Network architect
- Project manager
- Enterprise network administrator
Individuals may enter this field with an associate's degree. Some of the opportunities available include:
- Support technician
- Network technician
- Systems analyst
- Network designer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer network architects are expected to have 9% job growth for the years 2014 through 2024. The BLS also reported in May 2015 that computer network architects earned a median annual salary of $100,240.
Network design programs are available at the certificate, associate's, and bachelor's degree levels. Though course difficulty and length vary, all of these programs equip students with the computer skills needed for programming and networking.