Associate degree programs in computer networking are typically available as on-campus options, but some private, for-profit schools may offer online programs in this field. Online programs may be more available at the bachelor's degree level, with more programs offering both on-campus and online courses. Some hybrid programs require a certain percentage of on-campus courses. At both levels of education, computer networking degrees are commonly offered in combination with another topic of study, such as information technology, networking management or computer security. These programs may prepare students to become certified through software vendors, like Microsoft and CompTIA.
Associate Degree in Information Technology - Networking
Students can earn their Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree after approximately two years of full-time study. Some programs offer a fully online option, whereas others have a hybrid course of study, allowing students to complete some classes online, with the rest offered in a traditional on-campus classroom.
Program Requirements and Information
A high school diploma or equivalent is usually a prerequisite to enrolling in any associate degree program. As classes are taught online, students must have access to a computer with Internet connection. Computer literacy is strongly recommended, given the information technology focus and online delivery methods.
A networking focus covers the many types of computer networks that enterprises and individuals may use to share information. Associate degree programs typically supplement networking and information technology courses with several general education courses in communication, humanities, college-level math and science.
The networking curriculum includes a brief history of the Internet and how it relates to modern-day computer networking. Specialized topics in local area networks (LANs), networking media, transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP), routing and switching and wide area networks (WANs) are also discussed.
The class introduces the student to methods and theories used in network security for Microsoft and UNIX operating systems. Additional subject areas include network configuration, policy domain controllers and troubleshooting techniques.
Students identify the purpose of a website, projecting its intended message while focusing on the target audience. They gain experience creating, modifying and updating websites of their own design. Proper website navigation design, customer usability and overall functionality are also discussed in the course.
Bachelor Degree in Information Technology- Networking
Students with no prior college education who attend online classes full-time can expect to earn their Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in approximately 4-5 years. In addition to coursework, many schools include industry certifications as a part of the curriculum. Microsoft, CIW or CompTIA certifications are typically included. Most schools offer a fully online option, while some others are hybrid, offering some online classes with the rest taught on-campus.
Program Requirements and Information
A high school diploma or equivalent is a prerequisite to enrolling in the B.S. in Information Technology program. Coursework delivered online requires students to have access to a computer with Internet connection. Schools recommend a high level of computer literacy for the networking programs.
A few networking courses require on-campus labs for students to get hands-on experience with professional-grade networking equipment. Core requirements in business expose information technology networking students to the enterprise environments in which networks frequently operate.
Information Technology (IT)
Addressing the foundations, technical and management fundamentals of IT, students develop a basic working knowledge of hardware, software and networked resources. Moving on to the classification, configuration, optimization and installation of peripheral equipment and devices, students learn to identify problems, prevent safety hazards and recommend tools and maintenance procedures.
Students learn how to install, update and configure types of operating systems. Troubleshooting of drivers, hardware devices, network protocols and application issues is addressed, as is the implementation and management of network resources in a given operating system.
Network Design & Management
This course teaches students to design and implement network infrastructures, communication protocols and logical and physical components. Planning and troubleshooting client access, authentication and domain name resolution are also required learning.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment for network and computer systems administrators to grow as fast as the average (5%) from 2018-2028. Network and computer systems administrators held 383,900 jobs in 2018, with a median annual wage of $82,050 (www.bls.gov).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects computer systems analysts to continue to have excellent job prospects. Typically, applicants with a college degree and certification will have the best opportunities. Median annual wages of systems analysts were $88,740 in May of 2018 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Students may opt to take several certification exams following an associate program in networking, including the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam. While not required for employment in the computer networking field, these national certifications may cause potential employers to look more favorably upon individuals, since they attest to specific product expertise or skills.
Certain industry certifications are included in several of the bachelor's programs online, but future recertification may be necessary. Students may choose to pursue certifications not included in the academic curriculum.
For students interested in pursuing an online computer networking degree, bachelor's level programs are much more common than associate's programs. These programs focus on operating systems, network design and management, and students who earn degrees in this field face pretty favorable job prospects upon graduation.