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Network Administration

Network administrators, also known as computer systems administrators, oversee the vital day-to-day operations of the computer networks that almost every organization, business or government relies upon. They are involved from the very beginning: planning out what an organization needs, installing all hardware and software, maintaining the systems, providing upgrades when necessary, training employees to work on the network, troubleshooting and fixing problems that might arise, and collecting data to ensure that the network is doing the proper job for the organization or company. - See more at: http://www.schools.com/online-colleges/network-administration#sthash.weJnaadq.dpuf

 

What educational options are there for aspiring network administrators?

There are numerous paths to becoming a network administrator. In some cases, employers will accept a post-secondary certificate, but most see a bachelor's degree in network administration as a minimum requirement, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, since the work involves many aspects of complex systems, a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering might also be suitable for the job. In addition, some companies want to see even higher education, and thus require a master's degree.

Earning a network administration degree online is a route of choice for many students. Particularly for nontraditional students, this helps them find the flexibility they need while developing the advanced computer skills employers hope to see. An online master's in network administration might be a suitable option for those who are already working full-time and want to enhance their resume.

In addition to the educational requirements, a strong background of experience is typically key to securing the best jobs. Many students choose to participate in internships that give them the practical necessary experience, and certifications can also give applicants a competitive advantage. Product vendors and software firms usually offer certification for their products. Microsoft and Cisco offer some of the most common certifications, with multiple options for focus and varying levels of experience.

Are there financial aid options to help pay for a degree in network administration?

Students looking for financial aid can begin with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students might be eligible for one or more of the following student aid options:

  • Pell grants
  • Perkins loans
  • Stafford loans
  • PLUS loans (designed for parents)
  • Federal work-study
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants

In addition to federal aid, students might find financial assistance through their state or chosen school. Grants and scholarships could be available through local organizations, or those specific to the computer industry. Numerous companies and organizations offer scholarships, grants and internships to those who choose STEM subjects, such as network administration; some of these include Proctor & Gamble, Google, NASA and Xerox.

What's the job outlook for network administrators?

Network and computer systems administrators can expect job growth of 12 percent nationally from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is roughly equal to the average for all occupations. As companies continue to invest in faster, more powerful networks, the demand for those who can manage them will be robust. The highest growth is expected in healthcare industries and those companies that provide cloud-computing technologies.

One of the most promising areas of job growth is in computer systems design and related services, with an increase of 35 percent employment nationally between 2012 and 2022. Those who hold a bachelor's degree are expected to find the best job opportunities, as well as those who are knowledgeable in cloud computing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most promising job markets for network administrators include:

  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • Colleges, universities and professional schools
  • Elementary and secondary schools
  • Wired telecommunications carriers

Where can you find more information on network administration programs?

Those interested in earning a degree in network administration can begin by exploring the schools that offer appropriate degrees, then narrow down the options based on graduation rate, job placement after graduation, course requirements and financial aid opportunities. Contact the admissions office of each chosen school to find out more about their network administration programs.

Sources:

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Network and Computer Systems Administrators, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151142.htm

Network and Computer Systems Administrators, "Occupational Outlook Handbook,2 014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm#tab-1

Cisco Career Certifications, Cisco,
http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/certifications/index.html

Finding the right IT certification, Microsoft,
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/certification-overview.aspx

Network and Computer Systems Administrators, O*Net OnLine,
http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1142.00

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