HomeA-Z Program Guide → Top Online Computer Networking Schools

Top Online Computer Networking Schools

Top Online Computer Networking Schools

A computer network specialist builds the roads of the information super-highway and keeps traffic moving. They facilitate efficient corporate communication and maintain the integrity of network systems, both hardware and software. Computer networking specialists are therefore an essential part of today’s society and they are in high demand.

The Association for Computing Machinery projects, in 2006, that jobs requiring a degree in computer science or mathematics will grow to more than 150,000 by the end of 2016. Indeed, according to the Computing Research Association’s Taulbee Survey, student enrollment for the computer science and information system programs increased 10.5 percent in the 2010-2011 academic year, the fourth-straight year of growth.

Computer networking certification programs are available for those with previous computer network experience and programs are typically offered by product vendors such as Microsoft and Cisco. Those without computer network experience can start out in an online associate or bachelor’s degree programs in computer networking, information systems or computer engineering. Undergraduate credits can also transfer to an online computer networking master's degree program, where students who have the practical knowledge of networking are taught system management as well as the nuances of computer networking development and diagnostic.

Below are some of the computer networking focuses available from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:

Any computer networking career path starts with a sound education in computer science or information systems, career advancement may depend upon certification in today’s current technology.

Computer Support

A computer support specialist is the jack-of-all-trades in the networking world. Computer support specialists can be employed in call centers or onsite to resolve network crises and computer issues at schools and businesses. They can work remotely and rarely leave their desk, or their on-site duties may require spending a day in a server-room.

A computer support specialist’s educational requirements can vary as widely as the job description. According to the 2012 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupation Outlook Handbook (BLS.gov, 2012), some companies require a computer support specialist to have a bachelor’s in computer science or engineering while others may require an associate degree and certification in vendor-specific and vendor-neutral areas.

Many online computer support courses will prepare students to take either a vendor-specific or a vendor-neutral exam such as the Certified Software Development Associate exam or another computer support specialist certification. The Apple Certified Support Professional and Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist credentials are ranked by the TechRepublic as two of the top certifications to get for computer support.

In most cases, computer support specialists will receive on-the-job training both at the start and over the course of their career to keep pace with the ever-changing technological world (BLS.gov, 2012). Certification programs lengths vary depending on the certification. For example, an associate degree program can last up to two years where as an ACSP certification may take several months. Computer support courses can also include education on computer science and information systems.

The May of 2011, the national median computer support specialist salary was $47,660 per year (BLS.gov, 2012) and the profession is expected to see up to 18 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020, primarily in the world of health care as hospitals and clinics increase their use of network and information technology (BLS.gov, 2012). Specialists can also expect to work either a typical day or part-time in an on-call position (BLS.gov, 2012).

Network System Administration

A network systems administrator’s job is to set up and support a company, school, college or hospital’s internal networks, working to keep the information pipelines running smoothly. Network administrators also manage servers and workstations, providing technical support to management and employees. Sometimes, an administrator will work with a network architect to analyze a current network and assess the need for a newer network model.

Because the requirements for a network administrator may include the physical set-up of a local area network or wide area network, the qualifications for a network administrator can vary. However, completing programs in networking, computer programming and information systems, along with getting a bachelor’s in computer science or computer engineering, may lead to a career as a network administrator (BLS.gov, 2012). Certification coupled with related work experience is also a possible option and many certifications are available online.

Due to the computer network administrator’s job description and duties, and the absence of on-the-job training, certification exams may require hands-on testing to accurately verify an applicant’s proficiency prior to certification. Online certification courses may require on-site education, although some exams, such as the Certified Software Development Professional exam, can be taken remotely.

According to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), the national median network and computer systems administrator salary was $70,970 per year in May of 2011, and the profession is expected to see a faster than average employment growth, increasing up to 28 percent from 2010 to 2020 (BLS.gov, 2012). Some companies may also require their administrators to be certified in the products they use, requiring further certification regularly (BLS.gov, 2012). Continued education is also a requirement of a network administrator, as the IT world changes constantly.

Network Architecture

Computer network architects and engineers are the elite in the computer networking field. A network engineer can design a company or college’s internal networks, updating the network as technology advances, while working closely with a company’s Chief Technology Officer to create a network organization that can achieve the company’s goals. Network architects are required to have an understanding of network configurations, network analysis and monitoring software as well as mathematics, management and computer science.

To obtain status at the top of the IT field, network engineers need extensive certification or years of on-the-job training along with at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems. Some institutions require their network architects to obtain a master’s in business administration if they will be working with a CTO or managing network administrators. Education in electronic engineering may also be beneficial.

Regardless of education, the TechRepublic suggests getting the Project Management Professional certification, one of the top certifications to get as a network engineer, and the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification over the more prestigious CCNE certification.

According to the BLS, the national median salary for a computer network architect was $77,990 per year in May, 2011, and, as network infrastructures continue to expand, the demand for network architects is expected to grow faster than other communication professions (BLS.gov, 2012) increasing up to 22 percent from 2010 to 2012.

Learn more about accredited computer networking programs from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:

Remember, many of the more reputable online degree programs in information systems and computer networking will have official accreditation from a national or regional accreditation agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology. Look up which computer networking schools are accredited on the ACCSCT website.

Network support, system and architecture certification programs are also available though online schools, such as the CompTIA Network+ and A+ certification, Microsoft Server certification, Cisco Security Systems certification and Red Hat Linux certification as well as various other vendor and vendor-neutral certifications.

Each year, U.S. News & World Report publishes their ranking of colleges and universities, the following five schools have been ranked as the “Top 5 Graduate Schools” are for computer engineering and networking:

1.    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1.    Stanford University

3.    University of California Berkeley

4.    Carnegie Mellon University

5.    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Sources and further readings:

Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology

The Certified Software Development Professional exam

The Certified Software Development Associate exam

IEEE Computer Society vendor-neutral certifications

Red Hat real-world certifications

Cisco IT certifications

Microsoft certifications

CompTIA certification and training