Earning a network administration certificate can be a strategic way to launch your information technology career or work toward professional advancement.
By earning industry credentials, you can set yourself apart as a credible contender for network administration jobs. Certificate programs go beyond basic computer skills and address in-depth industry knowledge.
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Studying for these programs, passing the exams, and earning the associated credentials can help you establish yourself as a knowledgeable networking professional.
Online Network Administration Certificate Programs
Network administration is a career path that depends on a set of technical skills. To succeed in this field, it’s necessary to know much more about computers than the average tech user.
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Earning industry certifications is a valuable way to demonstrate that you have what it takes to work as a network administrator. To earn certifications, you’ll typically study a body of material and practice working with the concepts. You may need to have professional experience in the field as well. Once you’re ready, you’ll take one or more tests over the content.
Networking certifications often address topics like:
- Cloud services
- Data backup methods
- Operating systems
- Storage and organization
The exact content covered by your certification will depend largely on whether it’s an introductory, intermediate, or advanced credential. Most networking professionals start with foundational certificates and work their way to higher levels over time.
Certifications are one of the keys to building a strong resume for network administration jobs. Being certified can increase employers’ confidence in your abilities. In fact, some job listings specify that applicants must hold certain certificates to qualify.
Common Network Administrator Certifications
Earning industry credentials shows employers that you’ve put effort into honing your tech skills and becoming a competent IT professional. With top certifications on your resume, you might be a standout job candidate. In fact, these credentials are even requirements for some roles.
Foundational programs from CompTIA cover general network administration skills that apply to network devices from any company.
- CompTIA A+ Certification: For most IT professionals, A+ is the place to start when it comes to industry credentials. This foundational program covers a variety of technical and professional skills. To earn it, you’ll take two exams, each of which lasts 90 minutes.
- CompTIA Network+ Certification: This program goes beyond the basics and hones in on networking-specific skills. Its scope includes security, troubleshooting, and infrastructure concepts. Earning this certification requires passing one 90-minute test.
- CompTIA Security+ Certification: The Security+ program takes you beyond the fundamental security concepts covered in Network+. You’ll delve into malware, cryptography, account management, and more. There’s one 90-minute test required for this credential.
If you earn all three of these certifications, you can establish yourself as a professional with a solid foundation of tech know-how.
The Cisco certification programs focus on networking, especially in regard to IT products from that particular vendor.
- Cisco Certified Technician (CCT): Cisco’s entry-level certification path is known as CCT and includes collaboration, data center, and routing and switching components. Each section has a separate exam.
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): For those with a specific interest in networking, CCNA is a mid-level certification program that addresses connectivity, security, automation, and more. It requires one exam.
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP): This more advanced level of certification is available in several varieties: collaboration, data center, enterprise, security, and service provider. There are concentration choices within each discipline. For each certification track, you take a core exam and a concentration-area exam.
Cisco’s foundational networking certification, Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT), is no longer offered. Those topics are addressed in the CCNA program instead.
The focus of these certifications is on networking and systems principles related to the Microsoft Azure platform.
- Microsoft Certified—Azure Fundamentals: Those who are just getting started with Microsoft Azure can gain foundational skills through this introductory program. To earn it, you’ll take one test.
- Microsoft Certified—Azure Administrator Associate: For professionals who want to bolster their credentials as an Azure administrator, this certification goes into greater detail on topics like virtual networking, storage management, and resource backups.
You may hear of Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), but those programs have been replaced with new role-based credentials. These new credentials include the ones listed above in addition to many others.
Network Administration Careers & Salaries
People who earn network administration certificates often plan to work as network administrators. Those jobs are commonly available in computer design companies, schools, and financial institutions.
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There are other jobs related to networks as well. Examples include network support specialist, network architect, security analyst, or systems analyst. With experience, some professionals become IT managers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in computers and information technology make a median annual salary of $97,430 and are growing at a 13% rate.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$159,010|
|Computer Hardware Engineers||$128,170|
|Computer Network Architects||$120,520|
|Information Security Analysts||$102,600|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$99,270|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$80,600|
|Web Developers and Digital Designers||$77,200|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||$62,760|
|Computer User Support Specialists||$49,770|
Your knowledge of networking equipment could also be useful in a hardware engineering position. You could also consider using your knowledge to work as a technical writer who produces manuals or other detailed documents.
Your skills might transfer to other computing jobs, too, such as being a help-desk technician or a web developer.
Network Administration Certificate Curriculum & Courses
College certificate programs offer a core set of classes to prepare students for industry certification. As you study network administration, you may take classes like the ones listed here:
- Connectivity: During this course, you’ll discuss wide area networks and the devices that make computer-to-computer connectivity possible.
- Introduction to Networks: As you learn about network architecture and operation, you may get a chance to set up a local network.
- IT Professionalism: You’ll learn to conduct yourself professionally and communicate with others in the tech department and throughout your organization.
- Network Administration Fundamentals: This introductory course provides an overview of an administrator’s roles and responsibilities.
- Operating Systems: This course may cover Windows systems, Linux systems, or both.
- Routing and Switching: You’ll learn how routers and switches work and gain a better understanding of routing protocols.
- Security for Network Systems: This course covers protecting data and guarding against cyberattacks.
- Server Basics: After learning about the role of a server, you’ll study how to install, configure, and maintain one.
- Technology Management: You’ll learn to be a leader in your workplace and supervise both people and projects.
- Troubleshooting Principles: With the lessons learned in this course, you can be ready to handle tech problems that arise.
A beneficial way to prepare for certification exams is to earn a college degree in the field. A number of universities offer both on-campus and online computer networking degree programs. In addition to taking networking certificate classes like these, you can also gain a broad overview of other subject areas and graduate as a well-rounded, workforce-ready professional.
Before you can begin a college program in network administration, it’s necessary to first apply and enroll. The application requirements for a networking system administrator training program may include:
- Completed application form and processing fee
- High school transcript or GED as well as any college transcripts
- Placement tests
- Standardized test scores (not required at all schools)
Some colleges may offer open admission for all qualified students, while others can be more selective in whom they admit.
If you enroll in college courses to prepare for network admin certifications, it’s strategic to choose an accredited institution. Regionally accredited schools offer reputable coursework that meets academic standards.
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Whether you’re taking just a few classes to get ready for a certification exam or have a complete degree in mind, accreditation is valuable. Accredited classes may be eligible to transfer to other schools if you decide to continue your education, such as in a networking associate’s degree program, for example. Employers often prefer training from accredited schools, too.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
When you enroll in a college certificate or degree program, you can see if you qualify for financial aid to help pay for it. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) helps connect students to government grant and loan programs. It may also help you obtain state aid.
Some colleges and outside organizations also have scholarship programs for students with financial needs. Scholarships can also go to students based on their academic merit. Some employers help finance certification programs as well.
What Is a Network Administrator?
Network administrators oversee organizations’ computer network systems. An administrator is responsible for connecting the various computers in an organization. That could require installing hardware, performing maintenance, troubleshooting tech problems, and planning upgrades.
A network administrator usually works in an organization’s IT department. This person may work closely with systems administrators, network support specialists, and information systems managers. Network administrators are distinct from systems administrators, who usually focus more on software and hardware. In some organizations, though, one professional handles both areas.
What Does a Network Administrator Do?
In general, network administrators focus on the operation of their organizations’ computer networks. Their responsibilities can include running tests, fixing problems, upgrading components, and configuring user permissions. They may work with both wide area networks and local area networks.
The responsibilities often differ between large and small organizations. In large companies, network administrators may focus entirely on networking tasks. Those assignments might even be divided among several people. In small organizations, the network administrator might be in charge of all tech duties, not just those directly related to networking.
Is a Network Administration Certificate Worth It?
Yes, a network administration certificate is worth it for many students. Many job listings specify that applicants must hold certain certifications. Even for roles where certification isn’t required, having those credentials can help you stand out as a top candidate.
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Many organizations need network administration roles, so a certificate could help you find work in various organizations. Some professionals work in schools, insurance companies, computer design companies, financial institutions, or corporations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, network administration jobs are growing at a 5% rate over the next ten years.
Some students also find it beneficial to continue on in a system administrator degree program, especially those hoping to move into management positions in their organization.
Universities Offering Online Network Administration Certificate Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Central Texas College offers a Network Administrator Occupational Skills Achievement Certificate. Students must complete 12 credit hours to earn the certificate. The credits are designed to be used towards an associate’s degree. Applicants may apply online. Admissions advisors are available to assist with the admissions process.
Central Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Community College of Philadelphia offers a Network and Systems Administration Proficiency Certificate. Students must complete 19 credit hours with a grade of C or higher in all classes to graduate. The program offers opportunities to test out of some classes and receive credit for exams. Applicants must satisfy placement requirements when applying for admission.
Community College of Philadelphia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Delta College offers an Advanced Certificate in Network Administration. Classes are offered online, at night, and on the weekends. A co-op may be completed. Those interested in the program must submit an online application. A course placement exam must be completed to help design the class schedule.
Delta College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Guilford Technical Community College offers an Information Technology – Cisco Network Administration Certificate. Students must complete 12 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must submit an online application with copies of their official high school transcripts and complete a placement test. The placement test requirement may be waived for students with a bachelor’s degree.
Guilford Technical Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Lorain County Community College offers a Computer Information Systems – Network Administration Short-term Certificate. Students must complete 22 credit hours to earn the certificate. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have either a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate and ACT or SAT test scores.
Lorain County Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Nash Community College offers a Certificate in Network Administration. The certificate is designed to prepare students for the CISCO Certified Network Associate certificate. Those interested in the program must submit an online application with copies of their official high school transcripts and complete a placement test.
Nash Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Northern Virginia Community College offers a Certificate in Network Administration. To receive the certificate, students must complete 15 credit hours over the course of two semesters. Those interested in the program must submit an online application and a self-reported listing of their education history.
Northern Virginia Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
San Francisco State University offers a Certificate for Network Administration with Labs. Students must submit a Certificate of Completion Request after receiving their grades from the required courses. Those interested in the program must submit an online application through the school’s Quick Admit program.
San Francisco State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Seminole State College of Florida offers a Technical Certificate in Network Server Administration. Classes are offered in-person, online, or in hybrid formats. Students must complete 24 credit hours to graduate. Those interested in the program must submit their online application through the school’s website along with copies of their academic records.
Seminole State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Wake Technical Community College offers both a Cisco Network Associate and a Cisco Network Professional Certificate. The certificate can potentially be completed in just a year.
Those interested in either program must first determine their residency status before submitting an online application. Applicants must submit official high school transcripts or high school equivalency certificates when applying.
Wake Technical Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Getting Your Network Administration Certificate Online
You can begin your career with an online network certification program. An online course of study can also get you ready for more advanced certificates in this field.
Whether you’re just starting out or want to take your career to the next level, it’s beneficial to check out accredited online college programs. At an accredited college, you can earn a certificate or a degree to bolster your resume and impress potential employers.
Taking online college classes and earning relevant certification can be a strategic way for you to establish yourself as a proficient network administrator or to continue on and earn your network administration degree online or on-campus.