Students in network systems administration programs take specialized networking technology courses offered through companies such as Microsoft and Cisco Systems. Some programs are available via distance learning, and students with associate's degrees are able to transfer credits and complete a bachelor's program in a shorter time frame. A high school diploma or equivalent is required to enter these programs.
Certificate of Achievement in Networking Technology
Certificate programs are primarily developed for students newly entering network systems administration studies. Students find programs covering a broad overview of computers, network systems, and database administration, but certificates also offer specialized training in specific operating systems, support roles, or networking hardware. Certificate programs focus on specific types of networking technology and operating systems. Many programs are designed to prepare students for certification. Some coursework found in these programs includes:
- Operating system basics
- Database administration
- Local and wireless networks
- Networking security
Associate of Applied Science in Network Systems Administration
An associate's degree program in networking technology includes many of the same courses as a certificate program but with the addition of general education courses. These programs provide a broader education in all aspects of computer network installation, maintenance, administration, and security. Study in networking is also offered as a specialization within a computer technology program at some schools. In addition to general education credits, associate's degree programs include a more comprehensive overview of several different software programs, operating systems, computer hardware, and database administration programs. Some programs offer internship opportunities. Associate's degree coursework includes courses in the following:
- Introduction to network operating systems
- Data communication fundamentals
- Introduction to computer hardware and software
- Methods of implementing and managing computer databases
- Implementing a secure network infrastructure
Bachelor of Science in Network Systems Administration
Bachelor's degree programs in network systems administration explore the methods and techniques for designing and implementing computer networks and information technology systems. Students also learn about the firewalls, security software, and procedures used to safeguard these systems. A networking systems administration degree program includes general education courses and a selection of electives in areas such as programming and Web technology. It is possible to complete some programs 100% online. Some of the classes common to these programs include:
- Advanced network and systems security
- Designing network systems
- Computing ethics and security policies
- Database development, application and integration
- Network forensics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 374,480 network and computer systems administrators employed in 2015. Many worked in computer systems design businesses and telecommunications companies. Other career possibilities for bachelor's degree holders in network systems administration include:
- Information systems manager
- Computer scientist
- Computer systems analyst
- Software engineer
- Computer programmer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
A certificate may qualify applicants for some entry-level networking positions, particularly when combined with work experience. Graduates may gain this initial experience by working as computer support specialists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reported that job opportunities for computer support specialists is expected to grow by 12% between 2014 and 2024. Computer user support specialists earned an average of $52,430 per year in May 2015.
The occupational outlook for network systems administrators is good, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with employment predicted to increase by about 8% from 2014-2024. This growth is as fast as average for all other job fields. The reported BLS salaries for computer network and systems administrators in May 2015 averaged $82,200 per year.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates are generally prepared to earn one or more certifications, such as A+ or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. The credits from a certificate program may be transferable to an associate's degree in networking. Advanced degrees may be required for more complex roles.
While some network administration positions are open to those with an associate's degree, graduates may want to move on to a bachelor's degree to open additional job opportunities. A graduate with an associate's degree is typically prepared to sit for several Microsoft and Cisco certifications as well as A+.
Those who successfully complete an undergraduate degree program in network systems administration can consider applying for a master's degree program in this or a related field. Graduates can also take individual courses through companies like Cisco and Microsoft. Professional organizations may also hold seminars, conferences and workshops where graduates can learn more and network with other people in the field.
Managing the computer networking service for a public or private organization falls under the purview of the network system administrator. Those who desire to achieve one of those positions may train under a certificate, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree program in network systems administration.