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.
Accredited Online Associate in Network Administration Programs
Dakota State University
|Madison, SD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
Founded as a teacher training school in 1881, DSU now specializes in tech-focused areas such as computer management, cyber operations, and digital arts. This regionally accredited public university serves over 3,300 students on campus and online. The school offers more than 45 undergraduate majors, several graduate degrees, and scores of classes through eLearning.
DSU's AS in network and security administration requires students to complete 60 credits, after which they can either enter the workforce or transfer into a four-year program. The program includes general education classes like mathematics, natural science, and written communication. The curriculum focuses on courses in the network security major, including networking, hardware, data communication, routing and switching, and operating environments.
Online classes at DSU typically cap at 25 students, and virtual labs allow for hands-on, real-world experience from a distance. With the help of faculty and peers, learners can try out network setups, test for exploits and potential attacks, and practice different configurations using enterprise-level hardware. DSU offers this online network security associate's degree entirely online, and students who take full course loads may graduate in two years.
Through low tuition rates, DSU welcomes and financially accommodates active-duty military members and veterans who wish to earn an advanced education. DSU admits students who meet one of four criteria for admission, including minimum ACT or SAT scores, an above-average GPA of 2.6 or higher, and class rank in their graduating class.
University of Toledo
|Toledo, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Established in 1872, UT serves over 20,500 students and holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. For online learners, UT offers 25 undergraduate programs, including an associate in computer network administration which prepares students for a career in a high-growth field with opportunities across industries. Full-time students can complete all requirements for this degree in two years.
UT's 60-credit computer network administration program teaches students the basics of operating systems (OS) management, networking fundamentals, and computer integration. Introductory courses tackle computer concepts and network technologies. In the second term of this online network security associate degree, students explore more advanced topics such as network services, infrastructures, and OS like Linux and Windows.
Through this degree, learners also take classes in management, budgeting, and leadership. Upon program completion, graduates know how to manage and maintain an organization's networks effectively and keep pace with emerging technologies. Graduates also leave prepared for professional certification from companies like Microsoft, CompTIA, and Cisco.
UT welcomes transfer students into the program and offers them scholarships. In addition to merit scholarships, the university also features a legacy award for students whose parents previously attended the school. Admissions criteria include a 2.0 minimum GPA and scores from the ACT or SAT. Applicants who are 25 years of age or older or a current or former member of the U.S. military do not need to submit test scores.
Lake Superior College
|Duluth, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
LSC administers more than 90 technical and liberal arts degrees that students can complete in roughly two years. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, this public community college began offering eLearning experiences over 20 years ago. Today, the school features more than 20 degrees online, including a 72-credit AAS in network administration and cybersecurity which prepares students to provide technical support for computer networks in business settings.
LSC's curriculum explores the field of computer information systems. Courses cover network forensics and incident response, intrusion detection, emerging technologies, and cyberthreats. Learners study network administration for Windows, Unix, and SQL server. Through the program, students gain the skills to pursue work as a network engineer, hardware support specialist, or security essentials manager.
LSC emphasizes hands-on experience through training labs that simulate real-world work environments. The online network security associate degree teaches skills applicable to clients in healthcare, government, and transportation. Further, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security recognize LSC as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. Graduates from this AAS degree leave ready for certification in areas like CompTIA, Cisco CCENT, Microsoft MCP, and the EC-Council's Certified Ethical Hacker designation.
By the program's end, students leave proficient in the areas of computer configuration, hardware and operating system installation, and network troubleshooting. Graduates also know how to design and implement network services, analyze an organization's network needs, and apply an ethical hacking methodology to test the security of a network and recommend countermeasures. LSC does not require prospective students to meet a minimum GPA or submit ACT or SAT scores.
Central Texas College
|Killeen, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
CTC first opened doors in 1967 to serve students in central Texas and the greater Killeen area. Today, the community college educates more than 34,000 students worldwide, including nearly 4,400 learners who study exclusively through distance education. CTC's associate of applied science in network systems administration teaches students how to take on the tasks and responsibilities of a computer network administrator, including the skills to work with various types of legacy and new hardware and operating systems.
Students in CTC's 60-credit online network security associate degree learn to plan, install, and maintain multi-user networks; ensure system security and integrity; and troubleshoot and report network problems. They also study the basics of technical writing. Learners gain broadly applicable skills that any company or organization which uses computers will need on the team. Graduates gain proficiency in the maintenance of both local and wide area networks, internet systems, and network segments.
The curriculum addresses network security from many angles, including web design, software vulnerabilities, and firewalls. Students begin the program with introductory courses on computer programming and an overview of the internet. In the final semester, students can take on an internship in either computer systems networking or telecommunications. Full-time students can complete all AAS degree requirements in two years.
CTC accepts applications year-round and maintains an open-door admissions policy. Applicants do not need to meet a minimum GPA or submit ACT or SAT scores. Students who submit test scores do not need to complete the required Texas Success Initiative assessment exams, which the college uses for placement.
|Port Angeles, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
A regionally accredited public community college in Port Angeles, Washington, PC serves approximately 4,500 students. Local and non-local students alike can enroll in over 15 flexible online professional technical degrees in areas such as business administration, criminal justice, homeland security, and computer applications technology.
Since PC operates on the quarter system, students enrolled in its programs -- including the 90-credit AAS in information technology and systems administration -- can complete all requirements in a mere six terms (or two years). Distance learners can choose between the regular AAS track or the AAS-T track, the latter of which helps facilitate transfer to a four-year program. By program's end, students at PC should possess defined competencies, including the confidence to work with operating systems like Windows, Unix, and Linux.
More specifically, PC's AAS curriculum begins with courses on database design and implementation, data models, and query optimization. In the second year, learners explore PHP and SQL programming, plus business skills (e.g., communications, economics). Through this online network security associate degree, students gain broad exposure to the principles of network management and the basics behind the information technology used by businesses today. Learners also acquire the ability to design, implement, secure, and support networks, clients, and server systems.
PC admits new students according to an open-door admissions policy, which means that when they apply, applicants do not need to meet specific GPA or test criteria. With this said, PC does use submitted ACT or SAT scores to help with initial placement.
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.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about how things have changed, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
- Best Online Associate in Network Administration of 2018
Ranking School Location 1 Wake Technical Community College Raleigh, NC 2 Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL 3 Peninsula College Port Angeles, WA 4 Lake Superior College Duluth, MN 5 Cabrillo College Aptos, CA
- Best Online Associate in Network Administration of 2017
Rank School Location 1 Dakota State University Madison, SD 2 University of Toledo Toledo, OH 3 Mesa Community College Mesa, AZ 4 Lake Superior College Duluth, MN 5 Montgomery County Community College Blue Bell, PA