If software applications are the stars of the show in today's digital world, then network administrators are the stage managers. Graduates from network administration degree programs typically work behind the scenes of computing infrastructure, making sure all the data necessary for business, commerce, communications and recreation gets to where it needs to go.
A network administrator's specific duties depend on the type of network they're managing, but certain tasks apply to most positions. Network admins often handle at least some of the following:
- Calculating resource demands and proposing a network plan
- Installing and maintaining the hardware and software necessary for network operations
- Monitoring network traffic and collecting performance data to use in analyses and reports
- Managing user access to network resources
- Ensuring network infrastructure remains up to date and continues to meet organizational needs
The training provided by a network administration degree program can be a great help in dealing with the complex variables of the profession. Not only that, but many employers prefer to hire network administrators who have attained at least a bachelor's degree in the field or a related one.
Network Administration: Coursework Overview
No two network administration programs are exactly alike, but most cover a similar set of core concepts and foundational courses. Here's a short list of subjects that students can expect to explore on their way to a network administration degree:
- Routing and switching
- Network and server operating systems
- Local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs)
- Cloud computing
- Signal processing
- Application and network security
- Technical mathematics
- Fundamentals of wireless systems
Degree program in technology in Network administration are offered at a range of degree levels, but more competitive positions in the field are likely to require a bachelor's or master's. Some computer science or IT degree programs also offer concentrations in network administration, which may satisfy certain employers' education requirements.
Career Outlook for Network Administration Majors
The numbers seem to suggest that the need for network admins is on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for network and computer systems administration jobs is expected to grow 12 percent between 2012 and 2022, resulting in an addition of nearly 43,000 new jobs to the field.
The BLS reports that the median annual wage for network and computer system administrators was $72,560 in 2012 -- more than twice the annual median of $34,750 for all occupations nationwide.
Combining the knowledge and skills gained in a networking administration degree program with job experience or continued education can lead to positions of greater responsibility in the IT field. For example, computer network architects, who typically need at least five years of work experience, earned a median annual salary of $91,000 in 2012. Computer and information systems managers, who may need some training in business or management to be considered for top positions, earn a median figure of $120,950 that same year, according to the BLS.
"Computer Network Architects," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-network-architects.htm
"Network and Computer Systems Administrators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm