Today, nearly all businesses and organizations depend on computers and technology for their operations to run smoothly. Professionals who manage and maintain these networks are highly valued personnel. Thus, it's no surprise that network administration is a rapidly growing field, staffed by well-paid specialists.
Through one of the following accredited online network administration programs, you can begin your journey into a highly rewarding and lucrative career. Network administrator jobs are readily available within organizations large and small, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts growth of about 12 percent in the computer and information technology field between 2014 and 2024. That's significantly higher than the average across all occupations.
What are the best network administration programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Dakota State University||Madison, SD|
|2||Santa Fe College||Gainesville, FL|
|3||Seminole State College of Florida||Sanford, FL|
|4||St. Petersburg College||Clearwater, FL|
|5||Oconee Fall Line Technical College||Sandersville, GA|
|6||University of Toledo||Toledo, OH|
|7||Lake Superior College||Duluth, MN|
|8||Southeastern Technical College||Vidalia, GA|
|9||Central Texas College||Killeen, TX|
|10||Polk State College||Winter Haven, FL|
2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Network Administration Programs
Dakota State University
|Madison, SD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
DSU delivers over 40 remote academic programs. Students can earn an online associate of science in network and security administration. Through a 60-credit degree plan, candidates gain the core skills needed to pursue careers as penetration testers, data communication analysts, and systems administrators.
Classes include computer science; networking fundamentals; and hardware, virtualization, and data communication. Students also receive an introduction to information security management with an emphasis on contemporary cyberthreats and countermeasures. They also choose electives with the guidance of an academic advisor.
DSU accepts applications throughout the year. To enroll in this associate in network administration program, each prospective learner must possess a minimum 2.6 GPA, rank in the top 60% of their high school class, or earn an 18 or higher on the ACT (950 or higher on the SAT).
Santa Fe College
|Gainesville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
Based in Gainesville, Florida, SF enrolls about 14,000 students each year, many of whom obtain their certificates and degrees remotely. The college offers an associate of science in networking systems technology that includes two concentrations: network infrastructure and network server administration.
Students who complete this 60-credit program can sit for CompTIA, Microsoft certified solutions associate, Cisco-certified network associate, and Cisco-certified entry networking technician exams. Required coursework examines topics like web authoring, database management systems, and IT project management. Each enrollee gains hands-on experience by completing a required internship in their community.
SF requires first-year applicants to submit standardized test results. The college offers many online classes through Canvas, allowing candidates to earn their associate in network systems technology through a flexible hybrid learning format.
Seminole State College of Florida
|Sanford, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Seminole State offers affordable and career-focused academic programs. The undergraduate catalog contains an online associate of science in network systems technology that totals 60 credits. Distance learners can complete a fully remote curriculum or create a blended format by taking some classes at the school's Sanford campus.
Core classes include network concepts and operating systems, introduction to UNIX, and computer maintenance and repair. This associate program enables students to focus their training on one of three specializations: Cisco network infrastructure, network operating systems, or security and virtualization.
Seminole State boasts a high success rate, with over 90% of students obtaining employment or pursuing advanced academics shortly after graduation.
St. Petersburg College
|Clearwater, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
SPC maintains a flagship campus in Clearwater, Florida, and serves more than 29,000 students annually. The school oversees an online associate of science in networking technologies program that teaches students the skills needed to work as systems administrators, IT support specialists, and computer network architects. Remote learners access asynchronous coursework through the Desire2Learn platform.
The 60-credit curriculum covers topics like implementing Cisco network security; switching, routing, and wireless essentials; and enterprise networking and automation. Associate candidates must also complete an internship with a company in their area. Graduates are eligible to obtain industry certifications from CompTIA, Cisco, and Microsoft.
Applicants who submit ACT or SAT scores do not need to take the college placement test. SPC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Oconee Fall Line Technical College
|Sandersville, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 39%||
OFTC delivers over 100 academic and career-training programs. Degree options include an online associate of applied science for networking specialists. Full-time students can earn their degree in five semesters. The broad-based curriculum helps candidates develop the skills needed to occupy entry-level positions in information security, hardware and software sales, and IT technical support.
The 66-credit program explores computer networking fundamentals and hardware installation/maintenance. Students use four elective classes to pursue their academic interests and professional goals. They can use these credits to complete a Microsoft specialization, which covers server infrastructures and directory services.
Applicants must take an entrance placement exam or submit COMPASS, ASSET, SAT, ACT, or PSAT standardized test scores.
University of Toledo
|Toledo, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
UT provides comprehensive academic programs across its 13 colleges. Distance learners can pursue a fully online associate of applied business in computer networking administration. This 60-credit program prepares students to pursue a bachelor's-level education or find employment within computer consulting companies and corporate information systems departments.
Coursework covers mathematical modeling and problem-solving, PC operating systems, and network services and infrastructures. Unlike many conventional associate in network administration programs, this track emphasizes business competencies. Students examine financial accounting principles and learn to manage diversity in the workplace.
Each applicant needs a minimum 2.8 GPA or at least 25 on the ACT or 1200 on the SAT. UT offers ample financial aid opportunities, including tuition discounts for out-of-state residents, military benefits, and scholarships for first-time students.
Lake Superior College
|Duluth, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
LSC offers more than 90 technical and liberal arts programs, many of which students can access remotely. Options include an online associate of applied science in network administration and cybersecurity. After completing the 72-credit curriculum, students can pursue certification with Cisco, Microsoft, CompTIA, and EC-Council.
Required courses include network client administration, computer user support, and ethical hacking and systems response. Each enrollee personalizes their degree with seven elective credits and gains hands-on experience by completing an internship. This associate in network administration program culminates with an integrative capstone experience.
LSC requires each applicant to submit school transcripts and sit for an assessment test. Distance learners can choose a fully remote degree plan or opt for a hybrid format by taking some on-campus classes in Duluth, Minnesota.
Southeastern Technical College
|Vidalia, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
Located in Vidalia, Georgia, STC enrolls about 1,800 students every year. The school offers online degrees through Blackboard Learn, including an associate of applied science in information technology. Full-time learners can complete this 68-69-credit program in five semesters.
The curriculum covers topics like hardware installation and maintenance, program design and development, and information security fundamentals. Students cultivate practical skills with Microsoft servers and Cisco routing/switching architecture. This program prepares candidates for jobs as network administrators, help desk support specialists, and PC repair technicians.
An applicant who does not submit standardized test results will need to take an institutional ACCUPLACER entrance exam. All learners can access financial aid, including state grants and foundational scholarships.
Central Texas College
|Killeen, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 17%||
CTC powers distance education with Blackboard to provide over 50 remote certificates and degrees, including an online associate of applied science in computer science for network systems administrators. By completing this 60-credit program, students learn to plan, install, and maintain multi-user networks, as well as protect system security and troubleshoot problems.
Courses include introduction to scripting languages, Linux installation and configuration, and computer virtualizations. Candidates also examine Cisco networks and routers/switches, preparing them to earn Cisco-certified network associate certifications. The degree culminates with a senior seminar or an internship.
To enroll in this associate in network administration program, each applicant needs to take the TSI assessment exam; however, candidates with stellar ACT or SAT scores may receive an exemption. The college funds 170 scholarships each year.
Polk State College
|Winter Haven, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 27%||
Polk State — headquartered in Winter Haven, Florida — serves about 10,500 students annually. The school offers 11 remote degrees, including an online associate of science in network systems engineering technology. Candidates may couple their degree with one of three industry-level certificates to gain specialized skills in the LAN environment.
The 60-credit curriculum contains required classes like A+ practical applications, information storage management, and routing and switching essentials. Students take advanced coursework based on their specialization, choosing from network infrastructure administration or network server administration.
Polk State does not charge an application fee. First-year candidates must take the PERT placement test. The college uses Canvas to deliver distance education.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Network Administration Program?
|Credit Hours||30-32 credits per year|
|Program Costs||$13,360 per year|
|Core Courses||Introduction to Information Systems Security, Fundamentals of Scripting and Databases, Introduction to WAN Technology, and Foundations in Computer System Administration|
|Concentrations||Networking Fundamentals, Computer System Administration, Cisco CCENT, and Microsoft MCSA|
|Accreditation||Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology|
What Can I Do with an Associate in Network Administration Degree?
After completing one of the many online network administration programs available across the country, you can choose from a variety of career options. These positions require individuals who are hard working, detail-oriented, and willing to stay up to date on the ever-changing world of technology. Below are some of the most common professional roles for those who complete an online network administration degree:
- Network Administrator: Computer and network administrators are responsible for overseeing networks across organizations. These networks are critical for the operations of most businesses, organizations, and agencies. Consequently, administrators have an important role to play.
- Website Developer: These professionals create and design websites, ensuring that they're completely secure, aesthetically pleasing, and responsive to users' needs. In many cases, web developers also generate original content.
- Computer User Support Specialist: These specialized professionals offer technology-related assistance and advice to users throughout an organization. In many cases, they are called upon when a user without information technology (IT) experience experiences a problem with their computer.
|Position||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate|
|Computer Support Specialist||$52,160||12%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
While earning an associate in network administration online degree is a great way to secure an entry-level position in a growing field, many graduates of associate programs go on to seek bachelor's degrees. A four-year degree opens up even more career opportunities, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting the median annual wage for individuals with a bachelor's degree or higher at just over $61,000. Professionals with bachelor's degrees are more likely to receive additional responsibility within an organization, and thus tend to enjoy higher salaries than those with an online associate degree in network administration.
- IT Network Administration: This program prepares both established professionals and newcomers to the field for higher-level positions in the world of network administration. Common areas of study include web development, spreadsheets, data management, and technical writing.
- Network Cybersecurity: An increasingly important field in today's business world, these programs give students the skills they need to help organizations avoid and manage major cyber threats. Graduates of these programs typically work for government agencies, like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
- Software Development: Increasingly centered around mobile applications and data management, these programs focus on preparing students for dynamic careers as IT professionals. Students study subjects like programming, operating systems management, and the business of IT.
Employment Outlook for Associate in Network Administration Graduates
ASSOCIATE IN NETWORK ADMINISTRATION SALARY
The salaries available to you once you've earned an online network administration degree may vary depending on the company and your professional experience. The table below includes data from Payscale outlining expected salaries for network systems administrator jobs and related careers.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)|
|Associate Network Administrator||$48,006||$40,000||$54,000||$62,000|
|Computer / Network Support Technician||$41,000||$37,310||$43,050||$50,430|
|Help Desk Analyst||$41,000||$38,540||$43,870||$51,250|
|IT Support Specialist||$45,691||$42,035||$49,345||$58,940|
|Computer Technical Support Specialist||$47,574||$43,292||$48,525||$63,275|
Financing Your Online Associate in Network Administration Program
If you're seeking an associate-level online network administration degree, there are a variety of resources available to help you cover tuition, academic fees, and other expenses. First, you should fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to find out if you qualify for federal financial aid, including grants and low-interest loans. Most colleges and universities also offer scholarship opportunities, especially if you're a single parent or a member of the U.S. military.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the FAFSA is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and provides answers to several frequently asked questions.
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