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Network Administration School and Training Programs

Review the education requirements to become a network administrator, the coursework of degree and certificate programs, and online learning options. Map out a career path in network administration.

What You Need to Know

A network administrator will most likely need a bachelor's degree, although some employers might only ask for a postsecondary certificate. Degrees in computer and information science are most common, but degrees in computer engineering and electrical engineering are also good choices. There are many degree programs that are available either partially or fully online. You should note that fully online programs may not have the lab-based training that on-campus programs have.

Programs Certificates, bachelor's and master's degrees, continuing education
Courses LAN and WAN, routers and modems, network security, business ethics
Online Online degrees are available; Online degrees may lack the lab-based training available with an on-campus program

How Can I Get Started in Network Administration?

To become a network administrator, you will most likely need a bachelor's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a postsecondary certification might suffice (www.bls.gov). However, most employers only hire network administrators with bachelor's degrees. You may choose a relevant 4-year degree in a computer-related subject such as computer science or computer engineering, with a focus on network systems administration.

The following schools offer network administration training programs:

  • Tidewater Community College (Norfolk, VA)
  • Mesa Community College (AZ)
  • Bellevue University (NE)
  • Green River College (Auburn, WA)
  • Western Governors University (Multiple locations)
  • San Diego Community College (CA)

What Will I Learn in a Training Program?

Certification prep programs are typically designed for people who already have some understanding of basic information technology concepts and may award you a certificate in addition to preparing you to take exams for industry certification, such as the Microsoft Certified System Administrator (MCSA) or the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). Generally, a bachelor's degree in network administration takes about four years to complete and may also prepare you for certification or entry-level employment.

In a network administration certificate or degree program, you can expect to study topics such as:

  • LAN and WAN installation and configuration
  • Installation and maintenance of routers and modems
  • Network security
  • Assignment of TCP and UV socket numbers
  • Troubleshooting
  • Network infrastructure
  • Business ethics

If you are enrolled in a degree program rather than a certificate program, you will likely take foundational courses such as English, math and history.

Can I Earn a Degree Online?

Some colleges and universities offer network administration degree programs entirely or partially online. Either way, these programs allow for flexibility in your schedule. Online courses are offered through distance learning software and websites such as Blackboard and Virtual Campus. They allow you to communicate directly with your professor and fellow students. Fully online network administration programs may not have the lab-based training components that on-campus programs include.

What Career Options Do I Have?

With a degree or certificate in network administration, you can begin working as a network systems administrator. You can be hired to work exclusively with one company, or you may choose to freelance. As a freelance network administrator, you have the freedom to go where you are needed and set up computer networks for many different companies.