While education requirements may vary depending on position, those who pursue an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Networking, Associate of Occupational Studies in Computer Technology and Networking or a Bachelor of Science in Computer Networking may see better job prospects. Students in these programs study operating systems, networking and databases. Upon completion, graduates can pursue careers in networking, websites or support. Graduates may choose to pursue professional certifications after their training as well.
Associate's Degree in Computer Networking
An associate's degree program, such as an Associate of Applied Science in Networking or an Associate of Occupational Studies in Computer Technology and Networking, can prepare students for a variety of entry-level careers in the computer technology industry. Admission to associate's degree programs typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Knowledge of computers is recommended. Associate's degree programs take approximately two years to complete. Students complete general education coursework in addition to courses in computer networking. Some topics covered include:
- Operating systems
- Database administration
- Routing and cabling
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Networking
Bachelor's degree programs in computer networking prepare students for upper-level or management roles within the computer networking industry. Students learn the technology and study the theories behind computer networking and networking systems. Prerequisites vary by program. Most bachelor's degree programs require a high school diploma or equivalent. Some have minimum score requirements on college entrance exams. Math, physics and computer knowledge may be required or recommended. Bachelor's degree programs typically take four years to complete and require 120-130 credits hours of coursework, including both general education courses and core major coursework. Course topics include:
- Networking technologies
- Systems architecture
- Database structures
- Operating systems
Popular Career Options
A degree in computer networking opens up job options in a range of fields, including professional services, computer systems design, financial services, education, healthcare and telecommunications. Popular career options include:
- Network engineer
- Web designer
- Network administrator
- Website administrator
- Technical support specialist
- Network installation technician
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the area of network and computer systems administration was expected to grow 8% between 2014 and 2024. Most jobs will require a college degree. The median annual salary for network and computer systems administrators, according to the BLS, was $77,810 as of May 2015.
Certification and Continuing Education
Many programs at the associate's degree level provide the skills necessary for industry-standard certifications, such as Microsoft Certified Professional or Cisco Certified Network Associate. Because technologies in the field are constantly evolving, continuing education is necessary to keep current with new advancements.
Students who graduate with an associate's degree in a computer networking field will have the training and the credentials needed to earn entry-level employment and certification. Students interested in the management of network and computer systems may need to go on to earn a bachelor's degree.