Welcome to our ranking of the cheapest online associate’s in network administration degrees of 2018.
Network and systems administrators are the backbone of the IT industry. Considering how pervasive technology is in our society, systems administrator is one of the most important professions in modern times. If you like the idea of being one of those people who run the networks that run the world, an online degree in network administration is a great place to start. An associate level degree will teach you the skills you need to land an entry level job in the field. From there you can work your way up into a full systems administration position. Earning a bachelor’s degree can also cut down the time you spend in an entry level position. With so many cheap online network administration degrees at both the bachelor’s and associate’s level, there are a lot of great options for breaking into this industry. The best way to become a systems administrator is the way that works best for you, but no matter what way that is, you can get started right now with a cheap online associate’s degree in network administration.
#1. Gateway Technical College
Associate’s in Information Technology-Network Specialist
Those who choose the network specialist specialization at Gateway Technical College will find themselves on track for work as a network administrator. There are two pathways to network administrator, and one is to graduate as a network specialist, get an entry level job, and start working your way up to system administrator or network admin positions. The other option is to complete your bachelor’s in network administration and jump directly into network administration. Regardless of which of those options you are considering, this affordable online IT network specialist degree is a great place to start.
- Resident Tuition: $4,152
- Non-resident Tuition: $6,106
- Graduation Rate: 25%
#2. Central Texas College
Associate of Applied Science-Network Systems Administrator
The online associate’s degree in network systems administration is offered through the Central Texas College computer science department. Students earning this network administration degree online will take courses like network+, digital fundamentals, programming logic and design, network administration, firewalls and network security, implementing network directory services, and designing a network directory infrastructure. Students will also engage in a computer systems networking/telecommunications internship in the final semester of earning their network systems administration degree online.
- Resident Tuition: $2,940
- Non-resident Tuition: $6,420
- Graduation Rate: 37%
#3. Mohave Community College
AAS in Computer Information Systems Administration
The Mohave Community College AAS online degree in IT systems administration can be used as a transfer block to Northern Arizona University’s BAS in Technology Management degree. This means every one of the 65 credits will transfer into the NAU program. Both the online degree in systems administration and the NAU BAS in technology management can be completed fully online.
- Resident Tuition: $2,112
- Non-resident Tuition: $6,972
- Graduation Rate: 23%
#4. Nash Community College
Associate of Information Technology: Network Management
Information technology: network management is one of five associate level online IT degrees offered by Nash. The online network management degree has had graduates go on to work in the IT field as designers, testers, support techs, system administrators, developers, and programmers. Skills students will learn in this online network management degree include database implementation, database management, systems security, business intelligence, and healthcare informatics.
- Resident Tuition: $2,432
- Non-resident Tuition: $8,576
- Graduation Rate: 42%
#5. Stanly Community College
Associate’s in Information Technology Network Management
In addition to their associate degree in information technology-network management, students can also earn certificates in network management of Microsoft technologies and network management of CISCO technologies. Students often graduate and go directly into the workforce as network managers, network operators, network analysts, and network technicians. Your coursework will cover the design, installation, configuration, and management of network infrastructure technologies and operating systems.
- Resident Tuition: $2,661
- Non-resident Tuition: $8,805
- Graduation Rate: 33%
Should I stick with an associate’s degree or transfer into a bachelor’s program?
It all depends on what you want. One of the benefits of the bachelor’s degree is that it lets you further specialize in a given area of the field, which can be extremely useful. The benefit of the associate’s degree is that it grants you a credential in half the time as a bachelor’s degree. What if you spend four to six years earning your bachelor’s only to specialize in an area of the field you hate? Taking your associate’s degree into the workforce and getting some experience and a feel for the industry can actually help you determine what areas you are most interested in and where you want your career to go. However, if you do have a strong idea of exactly what area of the industry you want to work in, then earning a bachelor’s degree as soon as possible might help you advance more quickly in your chosen niche in the long run.
Information Technology: Potential Careers and Career Statistics
Network and computer systems administrators develop, implement, and maintain networking technologies. Most professionals operating at this level have a bachelor’s degree or at least an associate’s. Those with associate’s degrees who occupy this position typically got there by working up from an entry-level position. System administrator is a mid-career position, although with large enough companies it can also be a late-career position. Systems administration, however, is a stepping stone to other specialties in the career. Companies looking to hire a computer network architect or information security analyst will typically want them to have 2-5 years experience as a systems administrator.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for systems administrators is $79,700 per year. A 6% projected job growth between 2016 and 2026 means 24,000 jobs will be added during that ten year span.
Paying for your Online Associate’s Degree in Information Technology
Associate’s degrees earned from community colleges are the cheapest form of higher education available in the United States. They are especially cheap if you are a resident of the state in which the school is located. Often times federal grants will cover almost all tuition costs. Obviously take advantage of any scholarships offered by the community college, your high school, local organizations, or the state. Your next best option if those don’t cover your costs will be federally subsidized student loans. These are magnitudes better than private student loans. For one, the interest is lower and doesn’t fluctuate much (or at all in some cases). Federal loans are also very flexible with repayment plans, so if you end up on difficult financial times for a little while after graduation, the federally subsidized loans give you lots of flexibility in how you repay them. The last option you should look at is private student loans. Taking these out isn’t the worst thing in the world, but because the other options are so much better, you should minimize the amount of privately-held student debt you accrue.
Is online learning right for you?
Online learning can be a godsend because of its flexibility. Most students who earn their degrees online are older than the traditional college age. However with the ever-growing selection of degrees being offered online, and the first generation to grow up with the internet hitting college age, the online option is going mainstream fast. But how do you know if it’s the right fit? That’s not an easy question to answer. In the end, are you the kind of person who can learn by watching videos? Would you be comfortable taking tests online? Can you handle not having any face-to-face interaction with your professors? If these things aren’t ideal for you, and you don’t need to make online learning work for you, then the face-to-face option might be a better choice. However if you need the flexibility and are comfortable with the format and technology, online education offers unprecedented levels of flexibility for anyone seeking to earn a degree.
Sources and Resources
National Center for Education Statistics: Tuition and graduate rates.