The online network administration associate degree is an ideal choice for those who want to establish a career in computer science. In particular, students in network administration learn about using hardware and software to develop and maintain computer networks that share data. Network administration requires critical thinking and strong problem-solving skills, so students who are adept in using technology to troubleshoot errors will do well in the field. A typical associate degree in network administration will teach students about routing networks, navigating operating systems, and configuring hardware. Associate students may also take general classes to hone their communication skills, as interacting with employers and clients is necessary for success as a network administrator.

Why an Associate Degree?

While many network and computer administrator careers require students to have a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree in the field is a good way to start your education. Associate degrees help ease students into the transition from high school to college, and are an inexpensive way to earn credits for required classes that can later be transferred into a four-year college or university. They also help students who struggled during high school. Typically, a low high school GPA will prevent students from gaining admission into some prestigious schools. Earning an associate degree offers those students a chance to get the higher grades that will grant them access into their ideal schools.

Getting Into an Associate Degree Program

Exact requirements vary depending on the individual college or university, but the following criteria are typical for admission in the program:

  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Computer proficiency.
  • SAT, ACT, or school placement test.

Inside an Associate Degree Program

The time it will take to complete an associate degree in network administration will depend on how many classes you take each term. It is possible for full-time students to graduate in as little as 18 months, while part-time students can take anywhere between two and three years. Classes will include lessons on web design, network infrastructure, operating systems, and computer security. Students may also take classes in communications, team building, and writing, which will enhance their interpersonal skills. Exams will be taken online or at a school in the student’s local area, where a proctor can observe.

Because network administration instruction involves hands-on experience with computers, online students will find that their course work is very similar to the course work of their traditional peers. They will complete computer science projects, watch lectures on video, and look through slide shows, just as they would in a campus-based program. In addition, online students will find that they can access student services, just as they would on campus. Most schools provide online tutoring and advising to their distance learning students.

What’s Next for Network Administration Associate Degree Holders?

Once you graduate, you’ll be qualified to assist network administrators with their work. However, if you want to be a network administrator, your next step would be pursuing a bachelor’s degree. With a bachelor’s degree, your salary could be around $69,160, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. Network administration is a strong field with a good outlook, as the BLS projects that it will expand by 28% by 2020.

While not necessary, becoming certified in different products and software can grant you an edge over fellow candidates for network administration positions. They can also help you advance up the career ladder into management positions. Many of these certification programs can be taken over the Internet, which gives you the opportunity to pursue them even after you have started working.