Best Online Associate in Network Administration Programs
Browse our list of the best associate in network administration programs. Explore admission requirements and common courses for this degree.
Updated April 26, 2022
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Organizations in every industry rely on computer systems and networks for day-to-day communication and operations. An associate in network administration provides focused training for aspiring network professionals. The degree also prepares graduates for many other computer careers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13% growth for all computer occupations between 2020 and 2030, 5% faster than the projected rate for all occupations. The sector also pays very competitive wages. Median annual salaries hit $91,250 in May 2020, more than double the median annual wages for all occupations.
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Offered by community colleges and many of the top online schools, an online associate in network administration typically features two years of training. Here, we look at the degree more closely and rank the best associate programs in the discipline. We also examine some possible career pathways and highlight factors that prospective students should consider when choosing a program.
What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Network Administration Program?
An associate in network administration typically takes two years. Learners usually need 60 credits to graduate. Network administration programs help learners develop widely applicable technical, communication, and problem-solving skills. Students also acquire more specialized abilities in network design and security, IT support, and systems management.
At this level, most of the courses provide introductory lessons to familiarize learners with the different systems and techniques used by networking professionals. The training blends lectures and demonstrations with practical assignments and projects. Online learners may have access to virtual labs and sandbox environments for projects, along with internships near them.
Most network administration programs award one of several degree types, including an associate of science (AS), associate of arts (AA), and associate of applied science (AAS) degree. The primary differences between an AS and AA degree come from the science- and humanities-based electives, respectively. AS and AA degrees are both considered transfer-friendly degrees, whereas the more practical AAS degree better suits learners seeking employment after graduation.
Since network administration is often its own concentration within a computer science or information technology program, students may not have formal specialization options. They can, however, create their own track by choosing electives that focus on fields such as cybersecurity or network design.
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Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Network Administration Program?
Network Diagnostics and Design
In this course, students learn how to design networks based on client needs and requirements. They learn to make scalable models for various operating system platforms while staying on budget.
Information Systems Security
This course teaches students how to design, implement, and maintain security on different computer systems and networks. They learn how to evaluate security needs and develop a solution that meets the client's demands.
Students in this course learn to design and implement enterprise networks. They learn about the various technologies and applications and how to support and secure multi-location networks.
Microsoft Windows Networks
In this course, students learn how to install, manage, and support networks on Microsoft Windows systems. Students explore Windows server products and security standards and protocols.
Introduction to Linux
This course provides students with a working knowledge of Linux operating systems. They learn about the features and functionalities of Linux, the basics of software installation, and command-line operations.
What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Network Administration Program?
The admission requirements for an online associate in network administration can vary considerably. Some schools feature open admission policies and accept all applicants who have successfully passed the GED test or hold a high school diploma. Others may require specific GPA scores and college entrance exam results, including the SAT and ACT.
For nearly all applications, prospective students submit transcripts and three letters of recommendation from current or former employers and teachers. Many schools also request candidates to submit college application essays, which highlight the applicant's personal experiences. Resumes and cover letters may also be included, which can lead to life and work experience credits in some cases.
What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Network Administration Degree?
As network technology expands, improves, and becomes more complex, the demand for skilled network administrators will increase. As a result, the BLS projects the addition of 18,800 new network and computer systems administrator careers between 2020 and 2030, on top of the nearly 25,000 annual openings in this field. In May 2020, these professionals made median annual wages of $84,810.
In addition to this appealing career path, graduates with an associate in network administration can pursue other administrator and service occupations in the computer industry. To further expand their career options, graduates can continue their training into a bachelor's program in networking, security, or any other computer science field.
Find out what professional opportunities can come from an associate in network administration. Learn more about computer science careers.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
These professionals manage the network and computer systems for organizations and users. They also provide support, troubleshoot any issues, and upgrade the networks and systems when needed. They may research new technologies and developments and help organizations optimize their operations through network performance upgrades. A bachelor's degree may be required for this career path.
Median Annual Salary: $84,810
Computer Support Specialists
These professionals provide assistance to users of a specific product or software, or they may support tech issues for an organization and its staff. Network support specialists test and troubleshoot network issues and provide regular systems and software maintenance. These specialists may provide support from another location or they may come for in-person visits.
Median Annual Salary: $55,510
Computer Systems Analyst
These professionals work with organizations to get the most out of their computer systems. They conduct performance and operation analysis, offer solutions and improvement suggestions, and help implement changes and upgrades. Some employers may require a bachelor's degree at minimum, while others seek out individuals with business or analytical expertise.
Median Annual Salary: $93,730
Web Developer or Digital Designer
These professionals design, create, and maintain websites for organizations. They determine the needs of the organization and develop a site that can handle the appropriate content and traffic. They may be responsible for the functionality and technical aspects of the site, the site maintenance and upgrades, or both.
Median Annual Salary: $77,200
These professionals create the code that enables applications and programs to run effectively. They may test and upgrade existing programs for organizations or create new products that improve processes and operations. Programmers can develop expertises in certain languages and systems, but they may need more specialized training and credentials for some positions.
Median Annual Salary: $89,190
Network Administration Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
After completing an associate in network administration, graduates typically pursue an entry-level career or more advanced training. For those that want to continue their studies, a bachelor's in network administration offers the most direct pathway. Graduates may also apply for a bachelor's in computer science, a bachelor's in cybersecurity, or a bachelor's in computer forensics.
Another continuing education option that graduates have is an industry or vendor certification. They can build on their degree with these accelerated programs, gathering more advanced knowledge in the field or developing a specialization. The combination of an associate degree in network administration and a relevant certification may help secure employment in certain organizations.
How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Network Administration Program?
When prospective students evaluate and compare costs, they should look at the true program cost. This considers all of the additional and hidden fees, along with the income lost due to work schedule changes. They should also compare the cost of online and on-campus programs, along with in-state and out-of-state programs and private vs. public school costs.
The right program for you is one that offers the appropriate format for your needs. Prospective students may need to choose between full-time vs. part-time study to accommodate their work schedules. Similarly, online learners likely need to compare synchronous vs. asynchronous formats to find the right home, work, and study balance.
Once they decide if they will attend school online or on-campus, prospective students should think about location. For on-campus students, location impacts where they will live and study for the foreseeable future. For online learners, it's important to also think about on-campus requirements and in-state vs. out-of-state tuition rates.
According to our online college accreditation guide, students attending schools without accreditation could miss out on financial aid, transfer credit, and employment opportunities. Though not mandatory for employment, some network administration programs might hold helpful programmatic accreditation from agencies like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Another major consideration for prospective students is the availability and quality of the student services. Programs like internships and practicums and college mentorships lead to success, so students should identify schools that offer these types of programs and services. Online learners, in particular, can look for online student services, such as academic, career, and wellness support programs.
Best Accredited Online Associate in Network Administration Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Network Administration Programs
Is an associate degree in network administration worth it?
Yes. An associate in network administration prepares students for many promising computer careers making an in-person or online degree worth it for some. Equipped with network administration training, graduates can pursue roles as network and computer systems administrators and computer support specialists.
The associate degree also provides a foundation for more advanced training in computer-related fields. For instance, graduates can pursue a bachelor's degree in network administration or computer science. They can also complement their degree with an industry certification, which can be beneficial when looking for employment.
How fast can I get an associate in network administration degree online?
Most associate degrees take students two years to complete, but an online associate in network administration may be completed in a shorter period of time. While students in any type of program may have the opportunity to accelerate their training with heavier course loads, some online degrees make it easier to do.
Asynchronous delivery, for example, allows online learners to study during the hours that work for them. Degree-seekers with flexible schedules may fit more courses in without relying on set class times. Transfer credits and work experience credits can also considerably reduce the time it takes to complete a program.
Is an online associate degree in network administration credible?
Yes. An associate in network administration is a credible degree. Many computer-related disciplines are in demand and provide appealing career opportunities after graduation. Graduates can also transfer their credits into a bachelor's degree to save time and money if they want to advance their education.
First and foremost, students should ensure that the school they attend possesses accreditation. They can also look into their prospective school's graduation rates and career placement numbers to better understand how well graduates have done.
How much money can I make with an associate in network administration?
The salary potential of an associate in network administration varies by location and employer. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $84,810 in May 2020. The top 10% of these administrators made more than $134,970.
The industry you work in can have an impact on wages as well. In May 2020, network and computer systems administrators made a median salary of $89,910 in the finance and insurance industry, $89,660 in the information sector, and $75,230 in educational services.
Is an associate degree in network administration in demand?
Yes. Many employers want graduates with an associate in network administration. The demand results from organizations continuing to expand their network capabilities and technologies. The growth in mobile networks and the healthcare industry has also contributed to the demand for network administrators.
The BLS projects the addition of nearly 19,000 network and computer systems administrator positions between 2020 and 2030. The field also creates nearly 25,000 openings each year to replenish annual turnover. Network administration graduates should be well-positioned for their careers if they can access even a small portion of the over 650,000 new computer-related jobs the BLS projects between 2020 and 2030.
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