Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs in network management feature internship requirements, computer laboratory components, and classroom instruction. Online and distance learning opportunities are available. Many programs require applicants to complete a certain level of basic math courses prior to enrolling. Applicants also need to be familiar with computer applications, languages and operating systems such as Windows and Linux.
Associate of Applied Science in Network Administration
These 2-year programs are designed to provide individuals with the entry-level skills needed to design, implement and secure public and private computer networks. In addition to campus-based programs at community colleges, distance learning associate's degree programs are available through accredited for-profit schools. The curriculum of these programs feature a core set of network management courses for local-area networks (LAN) and wide-area networks (WAN), balanced by humanities electives, such as English, history and social science courses. Courses include:
- Database management
- Data loss prevention
- Network directories
- Network routing and protocols
- Operating systems
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Bachelor's Degree in Network Management
Individuals enrolled in Bachelor of Science programs focusing on network management or administration receive technical training and classroom instruction to design, implement, manage and maintain a full range of wired and wireless computer networks. As with associate's degrees, accredited bachelor's degree programs in network management are more common at for-profit schools, though a few public and private not-for-profit schools offer network management degrees or concentrations through their computer science or information technology departments. Because network management includes security knowledge used both defensively and offensively, coursework includes ethics training. Courses include:
- Organizational behavior
- Network security
- LAN/WAN networks
- Server performance
- Operating systems
- Computer forensics
Popular Career Options
While many network management jobs require a bachelor's degree, there are still plenty of entry-level career opportunities for those holding an associate's degree. Below are listed some sample job titles.
- Help desk technician
- LAN administrator
- Systems administrator assistant
- Information technology representative
Employee Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for network administrators are expected to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reports that the median annual salary for this position was $77,810 as of May 2015. The top three highest-paying states for this occupation were Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia.
Continuing Education and Certification
Some community colleges offering network administration associate's degrees have articulation agreements with local colleges and universities to allow graduates to apply associate's degree coursework to bachelor's degree programs in computer science. Articulating students complete another two years of upper-division coursework in networking and information technology.
Both associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees prepare graduates for industry certifications. While degrees are not required to qualify for Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Microsoft Certified System Administrator (MCSA) or the vendor-neutral CompTIA Network+ certifications, coursework and labs can provide the experience and knowledge necessary to pass certification exams.
To summarize, both associate's and bachelor's degree programs in network management offer essential IT training to undergraduate students. By including both lecture-based classes and hands-on computer training, these programs prepare students for IT jobs and professional certifications.