With the rise of technology, our need for online security grows more pressing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in information security are expected to grow 28% by 2026. With each new technological advancement comes a new opportunity to enhance online platform and data exchange security. Careers in network security are lucrative and versatile, allowing you to work in small, privately owned business and large, international corporations. By earning an associate degree in network security, you open the door to further educational and career opportunities.
Should I Get an Associate Degree in Network Security?
The ideal candidate for a network security associate degree has an interest in technology with a background in computers, including coding and development. Network security professionals continue their education by learning new coding languages and cybersecurity best practices. As they earn this degree, students learn cryptography basics, hacking and patching fundamentals, and how to analyze and design network security systems.
Network security degrees are offered in online and on-campus formats. Online programs are best suited for working professionals or students with family obligations, as course materials are often delivered asynchronously, which allows students to complete the work at their own pace. On-campus programs, however, require students to attend scheduled lectures, participate in classroom discussion, and work on group projects. Though not ideal for those with busy schedules, on-campus programs offer networking opportunities with peers and faculty.
Many schools offer academic and career counseling services to their students. Academic counseling ensures students take the appropriate courses for their career interests while enrolling in the appropriate number of credit hours to graduate on time. Career counseling offers professionalizing opportunities like resume workshops and mock interviews to prep students for the workforce.
What Can I Do With an Associate in Network Security?
Network security professionals work as independent contractors, small business consultants, and large company employees, as the need for online security is present in all sectors of the public and private world. The careers below are popular for individuals with an associate in network security.
- Network Security Engineer
Often employed on IT teams for businesses, network security engineers are responsible for the configuration, deployment, and administration of network security software and hardware, including routers, switches, and firewalls. These engineers also perform regular security risk assessments.
Median Annual Salary: $84,374
- Network Security Analyst
Network security analysts are responsible for keeping their company's computer networks and information secure from hackers. Tasks include protecting their company from cyberattacks, tracking network traffic, and monitoring server logs.
Median Annual Salary: $65,670
- Computer Network Security Administrator
Security administrators, often called computer security specialists, teach colleagues about internet security principles, watch for security violations, and take action against hackers.
Median Annual Salary: $63,900
- Network Support Technician
Network support technicians troubleshoot network and computer operations. This career requires analytical and communication skills and knowledge of complex technology. Network support technicians are frequently employed by large businesses with an online presence.
Median Annual Salary: $44,816
How to Choose an Associate Program in Network Security
Students attending school full-time can complete their network security degree programs in two years. However, many schools allow students to enroll part time, which may extend the timeline for degree completion to three or more years. Some institutions permit students to override credit enrollment limits to graduate one to two terms early. Online programs frequently offer accelerated options, with shorter class schedules and multiple enrollment periods, to allow students to graduate more quickly.
As you consider programs, research factors like cost, location, and what each school offers its students. Tuition will vary, though in-state public institutions are typically more affordable than private or out-of-state schools. However, some online schools offer resident tuition rates to their students, regardless of home state. Some schools may offer concentrations geared toward specific professions, so investigate each program's curriculum to find coursework that aligns with your career goals.
Associate in Network Security Program Admissions
On-campus program applications are typically less complicated than online program applications, which often require multiple meetings with admissions counselors and require you to commit to one program rather than offering general admission to the school. Most institutions require prospective students to submit a standard application and supply previous transcripts. Some also require a personal statement or letter of recommendation from a former teacher or employer, so prepare these documents well in advance of application deadlines.
- Application: Applications ask for prospective student information. Though two-year schools don't use the Common App, many of the applications are short and can be completed quickly.
- Transcripts: Transcripts, a record of prior coursework and academic performance, are required with your application. High schools will usually send these for free. Students with prior college-level experience will be required to send those transcripts, too; offices of the registrar often charge a fee for such requests.
- Application Fee: Each institution will charge an application fee, normally between $40 and $50. Some schools waive application fees for students with demonstrated financial need.
Educational Paths for Network Security Associate Programs
Many graduates with an associate degree in network security continue their education by transferring into a four-year program in a related field. Many schools have articulation agreements with community colleges, simplifying the transfer process for two-year students entering bachelor's-level programs. By continuing your education, you become eligible for advanced career opportunities and higher earning potential.
- Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
A BS in cybersecurity teaches the fundamentals of protecting data and information systems. Students learn technical skills, like systems administration, database applications, and information recovery. Students also study business practices, digital forensics, and criminal psychology.
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Earning a BS in computer science has long been considered the standard for IT professionals. This degree teaches students computer systems theory, including programming. Many universities allow computer science students to concentrate their degree in network security.
- Bachelor of Science in Information Assurance
Information assurance is a broad field, concerned with safeguarding data in analog and digital forms. Coursework emphasizes a strategic approach to managing risk.
What Else Can I Expect From an Associate Program in Network Security?
While most network security associate degrees offer a similar curriculum, specific classes and concentrations vary by school. Some schools offer internship or experience-for-credit opportunities, while others may offer career-oriented coursework concentrations.
Courses in an Associate Program in Network Security
While classwork differs by institution, the basic curriculum for an associate degree in network security is consistent. All accredited schools are required to provide a basic level of education that meets the standard for professionals in the field. The following classes are examples of coursework you will likely encounter in any network security program.
- Database Concepts
An introduction to databases teaches the foundational concepts and skills to design and maintain databases. Students study relational database concepts, current developments in the tech industry, and varieties of data.
- Program Design and Development
Classes in program design and development teach students website creation basics. This course is particularly valuable to students lacking prior knowledge in coding and programming.
- Wireless Networking
In this course, students study the history of wireless networking, learning the fundamentals of network creation and maintenance while exploring technological innovations in the field.
- Server Administration
Server administration is an advanced subfield of computer networking that involves the installation, storage, and management of servers. Students learn to control server applications, troubleshoot related programs, and ensure optimal server performance.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate in Network Security?
If enrolled full time, network security students can earn their associate degree in two years. Schools that offer specialized degrees may require students to complete additional coursework, including internships, which may extend a student's enrollment. Some programs are offered in accelerated formats, designed to be intensive and completed in one year. Many associate degree students enroll part-time, which means they can expect their degree to be completed in three to five years.
How Much Is an Associate in Network Security?
The average price per year to earn an associate degree in network security is $3,440. Whether your school is public, private, in- or out-of-state, determines how much tuition you'll pay. Students attending public colleges in their state will pay hundreds to thousands of dollars less on their education, though some online schools offer in-state tuition to distance learners.
Beyond tuition, students must consider housing and transportation costs, textbook prices, and technology fees. Online classes sometimes offer cheaper, digital versions of required texts, but often come with additional instructional fees. Contact each school to determine exact costs.
Professional Organizations in Network Security
By joining a professional network security group, like those listed below, you gain access to networking opportunities and valuable industry resources like continuing education and certifications. Some organizations offer discounted membership rates for students, furnishing access to job boards for those seeking post-graduation employment.