Network administrators ensure that a company's computers, software programs, and security functions run smoothly. With an undergraduate network administration degree, you can access entry-level positions in schools, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private corporations. Information technology (IT) specialists are in high demand due to the large-scale digitization of data and commerce. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), network and computer systems administrator positions are projected to increase 6% through 2026.
Job growth is especially favorable in the health services industry and among medium-sized businesses, which require dedicated IT professionals to maintain network health and troubleshoot problems. With a $81,000 median salary, these positions represent some of the best paying for baccalaureate graduates. This guide offers in-depth academic information to find the network administration schools that best fit your needs and goals. The guide also describes career options and professional development opportunities.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Network Administration?
In a technology-dependent world, IT professionals drive business development and organizational growth. With a network administration bachelor's degree, graduates can pursue careers as systems operators, IT analysts, software developers, web researchers, and network architects. With additional professional training, network administrators can occupy cybersecurity positions, and the BLS projects information security analyst jobs to grow 28%.
Bachelor's in network administration programs provide fundamental tools for students to obtain entry-level positions. Through classes like networking principles, web development, and operating systems, degree candidates learn to think critically and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Students learn to install network systems and monitor progress to improve performance. They also cultivate skills in computer diagnostics, repair, and upgrade. An undergraduate education prepares students to sit for IT certification exams through Microsoft, Cisco, and the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). These professional credentials bolster career prospects and, in some instances, are required by employers.
Network administration degree seekers have diverse academic options. Recent high school graduates benefit from traditional programs, taking classes and building professional relationships on campus. They also enjoy direct access to university resources, including internship placement programs, research opportunities, and career guidance. Working professionals, particularly those seeking a career change, may prefer distance education. Online programs emphasize flexibility through asynchronous classes. They also offer low tuition rates and generous transfer options, allowing students to earn credits from prior coursework, volunteer training, and work experience.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Network Administration?
With a bachelor's degree in network administration, professionals can occupy diverse and lucrative positions in the IT field. Career opportunities consist of network administration, systems architecture, web development, and cybersecurity. Because technology suffuses all industries, IT professionals may leverage their skills in a variety of settings, including educational organizations and multinational corporations.
Graduates may also pursue careers as hardware engineers, health services administrators, graphic designers, and multimedia artists. Regardless of profession, IT specialists must possess strong computer programming and data analytical skills. They also need to communicate effectively, translating complex technical information for diverse audiences.
- Network Administrator
These professionals oversee the daily operations of a company's networks and software programs. They monitor computer functions and perform routine maintenance. Network administrators also diagnose issues and improve systems performance through optimization and upgrades. Depending on the role, administrators also manage network security, assigning user access and tracking information transfers. An undergraduate degree represents the standard requirement for this career.
Median Annual Salary: $81,100*
- Systems Architect
Also called computer systems analysts, these specialists assess an organization's network operations to discern performance level. They use this information to develop strategies and programs that help systems run efficiently. Systems architects also prepare cost analyses, train employees, and write user manuals. They generally hold a bachelor's degree and pursue career advancement through certification.
Median Annual Salary: $88,270*
- Database Administrator
These professionals store, organize, and retrieve a company's information, such as consumer data and shipping records. They also oversee database security, ensuring appropriate users get access to necessary information while preventing data loss and theft. Some administrators develop new databases, working with a team to ensure products match client needs. In addition to undergraduate credentials, database administrators often pursue vendor-specific and vendor-neutral certification.
Median Annual Salary: $87,020*
- Software Developer
These programmers design and develop software functions for individual tasks or general network control. They analyze user need, create product proposals, and maintain software functionality. With additional training, software developers may specialize in mobile technology. Students can access this career with a bachelor's degree, advancing into roles like project directors and organizational managers.
Median Annual Salary: $103,560*
- Information Security Analyst
Security professionals safeguard an organization's computer systems and networks. They install protective software, monitor user activity, and prepare monthly reports. Information security analysts also conduct penetration tests, simulating cyber attacks to optimize preventative measures. Cybersecurity is one of the fast-growing IT subfields. Professionals usually hold bachelor's credentials and external certification.
Median Annual Salary: $95,510*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Network Administration Program
Bachelor's in network administration programs provide the foundation for advanced coursework and skill training. Core topics include database administration, object-oriented programming, software analysis, technical communication, and IT business best practices. Undergraduate students participate in classroom discussion and group collaboration. They also develop skills through hands-on experiences, like laboratory work and internships. Degree work culminates in a capstone project where students design and implement solutions to pertinent issues in the IT field.
The conventional network administration degree takes four years, requiring students to earn at least 120 credits. Course load affects this timeline. Students can take classes part time to accommodate work and family obligations. Those prioritizing accessibility should look into online network administration bachelor's degree programs. Distance education involves self-paced classes and hybrid learning methods. Some schools offer accelerated degree plans that allow students to earn a bachelor's in two to three years.
Online students benefit from affordable tuition rates, discounts, and financial aid opportunities. However, they usually do not get access to fellowships and work-study positions, since these awards require on-campus participation. Traditional students enjoy more course and specialization options, while online learners generally adhere to a linear degree plan.
Students should consider location when picking programs, including how residency status affects tuition prices. Students should also research living expenses, housing costs, and quality of life. While graduation may seem far away, degree candidates should look into employment opportunities in their area, especially if they plan to move for school.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Network Administration Programs
Colleges and universities must earn national, regional, and/or programmatic accreditation to confer valid degrees. For students, accreditation leads to employer respect, career entry, and opportunities for advancement. Schools obtain national accreditation through organizations such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. They receive regional accreditation from one of six organizations, depending on geographic location. For example, California institutions apply for regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Schools can earn programmatic accreditation for degrees in network administration from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET is the preeminent accrediting body for the IT field, boasting more than 775 institutional members and supporting over 3,800 programs. Students enrolled in an ABET-accredited school benefit from scholarship eligibility and access to certification/licensure programs. They also possess the knowledge and skills that align with verifiable global standards.
Bachelor's in Network Administration Program Admissions
Network administration schools ask for general admission materials, such as high school transcripts, recommendation letters, personal statements, and standardized test scores. Online programs tend to operate a more intensive application process since students must demonstrate their capacity for self-motivated learning. Distance learners can expect multiple interviews, prerequisite course completion, and a potential entrance exam. Requirements also vary by student type. Adult learners (those age 24 and older) generally do not need to meet GPA minimums or submit test scores.
College applications may prove daunting. To make the process easier, prospective learners should give themselves plenty of time to prepare and submit documents. While it is tempting to cast a wide net, students should narrow down school choices to make admission manageable and cost-effective. Main criteria include cost, financial assistance, program goals, and student resources.
- Minimum GPA: Most colleges and universities require undergraduate applicants to meet a 2.5 minimum GPA. Competitive schools generally ask for at least a 3.0. Students may get the option to offset inadequate GPA with exceptional test scores.
- Application: Prospective students must submit an application that includes general information like name, address, and academic goals. Undergraduate candidates can take advantage of The Common Application, which allows students to apply to multiple schools simultaneously.
- Transcripts: Students must provide official high school transcripts or the GED equivalent. They can request these documents from the school's student services office. Some colleges and universities ask for pre-graduation and post-graduation transcripts.
- Letters of Recommendation: Applicants should prepare two-three recommendation letters. These should come from authoritative sources who can attest to the student's academic strengths and personal characteristics. Students should give writers at least two months to complete the letters.
- Test Scores: Some higher education institutions, especially those that operate online programs, do not ask for standardized test scores. Those that do generally require a minimum ACT score of 18 or a composite SAT score of 870.
- Application Fee: Candidates should expect to pay approximately $50 for each school they apply to. Students should contact their schools about fee waivers and reductions.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Network Administration Program?
Colleges and universities usually offer network and systems administration as a specialization for general computer science bachelor's programs. However, standalone network administrator degrees exist and come with specializations to help students pursue individual careers and advanced professional certification. Below are five popular options and related job opportunities.
|Systems Analysis||The systems analysis specialization emphasizes server management. Students learn to define problems and network scope to develop logical information systems. Classes include human-computer interactions, software testing, IT auditing, and technical consulting. Systems analysts may develop advanced skills in areas like data reporting and functional business models.||Computer systems analyst,
information architect, network administrator
|Software Development||Software development entails the programming and implementation of computer applications. Students take classes like project management, coding security, and client-server technologies. The specialization also covers design principles and software-based solutions using popular platforms like UML. With additional training, students can become development managers and mobile app specialists.||Software developer, game designer, network administrator|
|Information Security||Students develop skills to prevent cybercrimes and other information breaches. They learn to investigate network-related incidents and retrieve digital evidence. Students also explore government policies and laws related to information security. Course topics include ethical hacking, security databases, disaster recovery, and steganography. This specialization enables students to become cybersecurity specialists and forensic practitioners.||Digital investigator, IT assurance specialist, network administrator|
|IT Entrepreneurship||Through an interdisciplinary curriculum that combines management and technology, students learn how to identify and capitalize on business opportunities. Students also develop financial and communication skills that allow them to work as consultants. Coursework comprises industrial leadership, purchasing, business innovation, and modeling and design.||Web marketer, business consultant, network administrator|
|Data Analytics||Through this specialization, students develop tools to manage and ensure the quality of digital information. Classes include data modeling, storage technologies, management frameworks, and quality testing. Students also explore the infrastructure and physical components of databases to discover useful information patterns. Data analysis skills lead to work in systems design, network architecture, and healthcare informatics.||Health services analyst, computer research scientist, network administrator|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Network Administration Program
Network administration degree plans begin with core math and computer topics. Coursework includes data visualization, networking, and web application programming. As students advance through the curriculum, they gain access to elective options that allow them to pursue specialization or craft a minor. Course options differ by school. The following list details five popular classes in this field.
- Programming for Network Administration
A foundational topic for IT professionals, this class trains students in modern programming methodologies and algorithm development. Students work with programs like Powershell, learning to execute scripts, set up loops, and implement conditional logic. By building robust and adaptive skills, students can solve administrative issues in diverse settings.
- Foundations of Cybersecurity
In this class, students develop an understanding of information assets and computer systems. They learn strategies to identify network vulnerabilities and improve security. Additional topics include cryptography, user confidentiality, and information ethics. This topic is required for most IT professionals, especially those pursuing careers as security analysts and cybercrime investigators.
- Database Operations
Students learn to install, configure, and maintain relational database management systems. The course also trains students to manage data, implement security measures, and troubleshoot complex issues. Through lab work, students familiarize themselves with popular commercial database systems and tackle real-world problems. This class leads to advanced topics in security and auditing.
- Project Management
Students study such areas as project scope, specifications, and assumptions. They also learn to break down work structure, creating efficient task plans and schedules. This course is perfunctory for program directors and IT leaders.
- Mobile Business Application Development
Students learn to create native applications for mobile devices using popular platforms like Accelerator and GeneXus. The class covers interface design, navigation controls, image display, device GPS, and cloud data storage. Students work in laboratory settings on group tasks and independent projects. This course especially benefits software and web developers.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Network Administration?
Though program length differs by school, undergraduate network administration degrees generally take four years and at least 120 credits to complete. This timeline increases if a program embeds industry certification and vendor-specific preparation in the curriculum. To hasten graduation, students may pursue two-year accelerated degree paths. These programs require students to complete prerequisite coursework in the admission criteria. Students may also need work experience.
Adult learners may prefer a slower pace that allows them to maintain personal responsibilities. Part-time attendance is available for traditional and online bachelor's in network administration programs. However, partial enrollment may yield higher tuition rates and limit scholarship and grant opportunities. It also prevents students from obtaining work-study positions.
Most colleges and universities allow degree candidates to individually pace their education, taking as few or as many classes as they want. Some schools operate cohort learning, which requires students to advance through a degree at the same pace as their peers. This method promotes camaraderie but restricts learners because they can only take one or two classes at a time.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Network Administration?
According to College Board, the average full-time college student pays $9,970 in annual tuition when attending an in-state school and $25,620 if enrolling out of state. Private colleges and universities charge the highest tuition rates, averaging $34,740. However, these prices are only for on-campus certificates and degrees.
Online network administration degrees provide discounted tuition rates that often disregard residency status. For example, per-credit tuition at Regis University is $510 for all distance learners. Dakota State University prices its online tuition at $340 per credit. Florida State College is one of the most affordable online schools, charging $218 for each credit. Most schools offer scholarships, grants, and additional discounts for active military personnel and veterans.
Regardless of program type, undergraduate candidates should take advantage of financial aid opportunities through prospective schools and the Free Application for Student Aid. Students should also research awards from local businesses and professional organizations.
Beyond tuition, students should factor in living expenses. Websites like Payscale let students calculate and compare cost of living by state and city. Additionally, network administration degree seekers should budget for lab fees, technology costs, and conference attendance. They should also consider the cost of professional certification exams.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Network Administration Prepares For
- Cisco Network Certification Programs
As one of the premier vendor-specific trainers for computer technology professionals, Cisco offers five levels of career certification. These levels include entry, associate, professional, expert, and architect. New network administrators should apply for the certified technician program since many employers require this credential. Cisco also offers specialized certificates in areas like security, network programmability, and service provider.
- Microsoft Certification Programs
Microsoft is a major vendor-specific trainer for network and systems administrators. The company offers six certification categories, including mobility, app builder, business, and cloud platform/infrastructure. Each category contains two to four levels, allowing IT professionals to demonstrate increasingly complex skills as they gain work experience. All certifications include exams. Some require continuing education to maintain good standing.
- CompTIA Certification Programs
CompTIA offers some of the most respected vendor-neutral certification programs in the U.S. Three core credentials exist: A+, Network+, and Security+. Through these programs, network administrators gain the skills most valued by employers in the IT field. Professionals can also pursue specialized programs in such areas as cloud essentials and network infrastructure.
- (ISC)² Cybersecurity Certification Program
The International Information System Security Certification Consortium provides professional training in areas like IT administration, cloud security, and healthcare informatics. The organization's most popular program is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), which validates applied skills through examination. CISSP holders may enhance their skills through advanced architecture, engineering, and management concentrations.
- PMI Project Management Professional Certification Program
The Project Management Institute offers seven certificate programs for network administrators pursuing leadership positions. The Project Management Professional is the foundational credential, reflecting a candidate's ability to apply standard methodologies and lead cross-functional teams. The four-hour exam comprises 200 multiple-choice questions. PMI members pay $405, while nonmembers pay $555.
Resources for Network Administration Students
ACM supports network administrators and other IT professionals through public policy advocacy, research publication, and educational outreach. The organization connects members through special interest groups and national conferences. ACM also provides awards and job support.
Established in 1972, CRA unites computer engineers, information technology researchers, and network administrators through conferences and committee meetings. The association also offers job postings, webinars, and career mentorship workshops.
The STC provides academic, research, and career support for professionals creating information on technical processes and related products. The society facilitates conferences, certification programs, and online courses. STC also operates an expansive job bank.
This website provides user-friendly means for network administrators, computer programmers, and IT entrepreneurs to discuss ideas. The SD Forum offers guidance for professionals creating start-ups. Users can also find information on local tech events.
BDPA offers academic and career guidance for black IT professionals, including award programs and student scholarships. The organization connects professionals through two national conferences and numerous chapter meetings. BDPA also operates a job board.
Professional Organizations in Network Administration
IT practitioners can bolster career opportunities and advance their careers by engaging with professional organizations. These associations provide up-to-date information on best practices, public policies, and other changes to the field. They also support members with academic scholarships, graduate fellowships, and research grants. Furthermore, members benefit from professional development support, like the Women in Technology mentorship and leadership programs.
Operating under CompTIA, AITP offers career assistance through soft skills training, workforce communities, and job coaching. Members also benefit from research assistance and awards. Students get their own leadership development program.
Founded in 1986, NaSPA provides IT professionals with comprehensive best practices and training programs. Members connect through technical conferences and trade shows. The association also operates a separate job site.
NPA membership comes with leadership opportunities and access to networking events, such as chapter meetings and industry-related conferences. The association also provides career tools, including strategic guides, certification programs, and a job board.
Founded in 1884, IEEE is dedicated to applying technology for the benefit of humanity. The organization facilitates conferences, certifications, and an expansive eLearning library. Network administrators can join the Computer Society, accessing industry-specific publications, training, and career resources.
AWC aids professional growth through networking events and mentorship programs. Members can also take advantage of continuing education opportunities and financial support. The latter includes the Lovelace Awards for outstanding career achievement and community engagement.