In our high-tech world, technology is constantly changing -- a factor that fosters growth in job opportunities for qualified computer professionals. Many types of businesses and organizations need support from those with specialized training as computer networking experts. Professionals with this skill set:
- Design and implement an organization's computer networks
- Protect computer systems from security breaches
- Troubleshoot and fix problems that arise in a computer network
In order to prepare for these positions, online degree programs in network administration in computer networking combine the theoretical foundations of the field with real-world applications for these concepts.
Overview of Computer Networking Degrees
Students enrolled in online computer networking degree programs learn the fundamentals of the field and the everyday challenges that computer professionals face. Program curriculum includes:
- Networking Fundamentals: Students can learn about technologies used in different kinds of networks -- wireless, local area, and wide area -- and explore both how these technologies work and their similarities and differences. Classes focused on fundamentals typically address the essential vocabulary of networking; network design, protocols, management, and security; the history of the computer networking field; and network troubleshooting and documentation.
- Concepts of Network Security: Courses on this topic look at assessing networks to determine how safe they are, steps that should be taken to mitigate security threats, and how to evaluate and choose technologies designed to keep network securities safe. Other subjects covered include infrastructure security, types of internal and external security threats, and regulations and laws that impact network security.
- Network Communication: This aspect of the curriculum helps students learn about IP traffic management and IP routes, how to create point-to-point network connections, VPNs, VOIP, CATV, and relay frame connections. Students may work on projects that give them hands-on experience with the network communication concepts they learn in the classroom.
In addition, depending on the school they attend, undergraduate students may have the opportunity to get real-world experience in computer networking through internships. Students who pursue graduate degrees may be required to complete a thesis, dissertation, or comprehensive examination.
Computer Networking Career Outlook
Thanks to the growing need for qualified professionals, graduates with computer networking degrees can pursue a number of different career options, such as:
- Computer Support Specialists: Also known as network support specialists, these professionals advise workers in an organization on how to use their computer equipment. Job duties typically include evaluating, testing, and maintaining network systems; troubleshooting network systems and finding solutions for problems in a timely manner; and ensuring that users know how the company's systems work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this career is on the rise -- a 17 percent increase in jobs nationwide is projected between 2012 and 2022. The salary range for computer support specialists is between $59,090 and $96,850.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators: Those who chose this career option are responsible for maintaining a company's computers systems, including duties such as analyzing the computer and network needs of a company; installing software for employees to use; troubleshooting and repairing systems when something goes wrong; and training employees how to use the systems. The BLS reports that these professionals make a national average salary of $72,560. This profession is expected to grow approximately 12 percent between 2012 and 2022.
Those with computer networking degrees have additional options, and may find jobs as information security analysts, network architects, computer programmers and software developers.
"Computer Support Specialists," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2014-15 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm
"Network and Computer Systems Administrators," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2014-15 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm