THE CAREER PATH
As a graduate holding an online network administration degree, you can pursue a career in one of many different fields. Healthcare, education, financial businesses, the government and IT firms represent some of the biggest employers. In these fields, your work will likely focus on networking and communications, as well as assisting other employees. Small businesses and research firms may also require a knowledgeable networker.
No matter what field you work in, network administrators must perform a wide variety of tasks to support the sustainable maintenance of organizational networks and systems. Some of these tasks can include:
- Maintain all computer hardware, systems software, applications software, and all configurations
- Develop and implement computer and systems security policies and procedures
- Install all network hardware and software and make needed upgrades and repairs
- Conduct research to gain information about products and processes
- Analyze project data to determine requirements and specifications.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for network and computer administrators is expected to soar 28% in the coming decade. Salaries are impressive with a national median of about $69,000 and may be as high as $124,000. The Bureau also notes that job opportunities will be more prevalent for those who have at least a bachelor's degree, although you may need a master's degree or additional certification to become a network administrator.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
A network administration career is for professionals who are interested in working with all aspects of organizational networks and systems, as well as the departments and colleagues that they impact. Professionals who seek these careers tend to have organizational skills, the ability to multi-task, and the knowledge to diagnose and troubleshoot potentially complex problems. And, since network administrators are often vital to the success of their organizations, they must be prepared to resolve problems or address issues during their off-hours.
Network administration is a career path that opens up many opportunities for professional development and promotion, and individuals seeking a career in network administration must be ready to educate themselves for their entire career on new advancements in technology with new certifications. As long as they can communicate well with others, think critically to solve complex problems, cooperate with others, and can interact with various levels of computer systems and programming, network administrators can be successful in any realm that they desire.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
An online networking degree is also commonly called a computer networking or information networking degree. As these names suggest, your program of study will be heavily focused on computer science. Expect an online networking administration degree to include core courses in information technology (IT), networking server administration, databases, programming, network systems administration, telecommunications, computer security and web development. These degree programs will also introduce students to the most relevant programing languages in the industry as well as project and team management strategies.
Most network administrators validate their professional skills and knowledge through certifications in the products that they have used or for certain strengths. The best programs will incorporate courses to prep you for various leading private vendor certifications. The Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) in Server Administrator is one such certification, as is Cisco Certified Network Associate Certification (CCNA). You can earn these certifications by taking specific classes, such as Cisco Networking Academy I and II, or through tests. Check with your program of choice for more information on available certifications and the educational pre-requisities needed to complete them.
Network administration programs often include courses like:
- Network Design & Management
- Fundamentals of Operating Systems Administration
- Scripting & Programming
- Computing Ethics & Security Policy
- Network Security Challenges
In addition to education, it is common to gain experience through other supportive technical positions before entering a managerial role. A position in network administration can also lead to further advancement in the computer sciences.
According to GetEducated’s rankings, online bachelor’s degrees in computer science usually average around $50,000. Total cost varies with additional expenses like materials, supplies, and further educatinon such as certifications. Specific certifications related to network administration can vary widely in their cost, and employers may be willing to cover the cost of certification for qualified employees.