What is a Network Management Degree?

Networks are the information infrastructure of enterprises. Networking, also known as computer networking, enables computers and other devices to be connected to one another on a local area network (LAN) or to a larger network, such as the Internet or a private wide area network (WAN). It facilitates everything from telephone calls to text messaging to streaming video to the Internet of things – the billions of physical devices around the world that are connected to the Internet, all collecting and sharing data.

In other words, networking is how service providers, businesses, government entities, and consumers share resources and information. Network managers and administrators are the people whose job it is to oversee LANs and WANs and to make sure that this interconnectivity and communication are not interrupted.

Students of network management learn how to set up and configure software and hardware, create and maintain backup systems, manage user accounts, ensure network security, monitor systems for potential issues, analyze problems, and create plans to prevent or correct issues. Put simply, they learn how to keep network systems up and running.

Program Options

Associate Degree in Network Management – Two Year Duration
Network management associate degree programs normally combine lecture classes in the major with some foundational courses in mathematics, English composition, communications, and the social sciences. With this degree, graduates typically qualify for entry-level technology roles.

The core curriculum covers the fundamentals of voice and data networking technologies, switching and transmission network systems, local area network (LAN), and wide area network (WAN). These are examples of courses that make up the associate level curriculum:

• Foundations of Computing – an overview of topics in computing such as personal digital security, ethical behaviors in education and business, how computers work and communicate with one another, how data is stored and used in a computer, how to write a computer program, and how to create a website
• Microcomputer Operating Systems – study of hardware and software components through managing programs, directories, files, and disks; integrating applications, customizing windows, and managing printing
• Linux Systems Administration – a look at how Linux manages the computer boot process; the CPU, memory, and peripheral devices; background services like printing, sound, and scheduling; how it displays graphics on the computer monitor; how it manages built-in desktop applications such as file managers, web browsers, and games; how it centralizes and simplifies application installation
• Introduction to LAN Management – local area networking concepts including needs, analysis, applications, computer network layouts and configurations, and troubleshooting
• Programming – introduction to computer programming using a modern programming language; the basics of creating software for all computing environments
• Introduction to Database Design and SQL (Structured Query Language, which is a kind of programming language designed to facilitate retrieving specific information from databases) – formulating data query requests using the structured query language
• Basic Electronics – fundamentals of electronic devices, circuits, and systems; topics include direct current electricity, alternating current electricity, transistors and integrated circuits, amplifiers and oscillators, transmitters and receivers, digital logic circuits, electronic memory, and computers

Bachelor’s Degree in Network Management – Four Year Duration
The Bachelor’s Degree in Network Management may be offered as a concentration within the information technology major. It prepares students to work as network and system administrators and network security analysts. It is the most common degree held by professionals in the field.

At the bachelor’s level, students take a more in-depth, advanced approach to the topics described in the associate degree section above. They study and gain practical experience in:

• Data Systems – Cisco, Linux, and Microsoft; computer programs for network security, Internet, and web design graphics
• Voice Systems – design, installation, and management of phone systems and program switches for telephone applications
• System Administration – installation of software and configuration of data systems; examination of cyber ethics and policies; participation in an internship in a corporate network environment

Specific courses may include:

• Network Server Administration – how to install servers, configure active directories, create and manage users, install server roles and features, perform diagnostics, and troubleshoot malfunctioning servers
• Supervising Information Technology – supervisory functions in network management including planning, design, implementation, evaluation, problem solving, and human resources
• Switching and Transmission Network Systems Management – management of switching and transport systems and their technologies from industry carrier systems to private business networks
• Cyber Policy and Ethics – the legal and ethical requirements and ramifications of electronic privacy
• Data and Voice Network Design – students design data and voice networks using industry metrics and rationale
• Scripting Languages – the design and applications of scripting languages; students learn to write simple scripts to automate system administration tasks
• Addresses and Routing – how addresses and routing are used to move data through the network, and how information is exchanged over the Internet
• Security Vulnerability and Intrusion Mitigation – security issues, security policies, Internet firewall architecture, detecting unauthorized activity, password authentication, and other security issues involving operating systems

Master’s Degree in Network Management – One Year to Two Year Duration
This degree is often offered as a master’s in telecommunications and network management. Many programs at this level take a multidisciplinary approach, comprising coursework that spans telecommunications and networking, technical skills, and project management. A thesis or non-thesis project option is the culminating requirement of these programs.

The core networking component is made up of upper-level courses in:

• Computer Networks
• Operating Systems
• Network Media Technologies
• Network Design and Management
• Network Security
• Advanced Networking

Specific courses may include:

• Principles of Broadband
• Internetworking (the practice of interconnecting multiple computer networks using bridges and switches, routers, and access servers)
• High Performance Routers and Switches
• Computer Systems Architecture
• Introduction to Wireless and Personal Communication Systems
• Introduction to Client-Server Computing
• Telecommunication Networks Performance Analysis
• IT Project Management
• Simulation and Computer Network Analysis
• Digital Forensics and Investigations
• Mobile Forensics and Security
• Network Forensics
• Cryptography and Computer Security
• Telecommunications: Policies and Regulation

Some schools may offer master’s concentration options. Network security is a common one.

Degrees Similar to Network Management

Computer Science
The field of computer science is focused on computer systems and how humans interact with them. Courses cover mathematics for computer science, artificial intelligence, data structures and algorithms, and introduction to program design.

Cyber Security
Degree programs in cyber security provide students with foundational knowledge and skills in computer science, computer programming, cloud computing, information technology, big data, and digital forensics. Within the discipline are specializations such as database applications, systems and network administration, and data recovery.

Data Science
Data science students learn how to combine domain expertise, programming skills, and knowledge of mathematics and statistics to deduce worthwhile insights from data, which analysts can translate into substantial business value.

Human-Computer Interaction
Human-computer interaction or HCI explores the interactions between computer systems and their human users. It focuses on how individuals and groups can interact with visual information, how we can understand what people need, and how we can make sure that our software is actually usable. HCI degree programs prepare students to meet these challenges. The curriculum combines theories and concepts from computer science, cognitive psychology, linguistics, and industrial design and ergonomics. Its end goal is to produce professionals with the specialized knowledge to create intuitive interfaces that improve how we interact with and use emerging technologies.

Management Information Systems
Students who major in management information systems learn how to build systems to retrieve and store information. They take courses in database architecture and management, multimedia systems, and human/computer interaction.

Computer Software Engineering
Degree programs in software engineering teach students how to apply engineering principles to software development. Students learn how to design, build, test, implement, and maintain computer operating systems, as well as applications that allow end users to accomplish tasks on their computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices. The typical curriculum includes several programming languages, operating systems analysis, and website design. Most programs begin with core engineering classes like mathematics, chemistry, and physics.

Skills You'll Learn

Students of network management programs come away from their studies with this considerable set of transferable skills:

• Analysis and problem solving
• Attention to detail as well as envisioning the big picture
• Bridging technology and business
• Developing and implementing ideas
• Evaluating functionality of systems
• Initiative
• IT and technical skills
• Logical thinking
• Multitasking , organization, prioritization, and time and resource management
• Ongoing learning / keeping up to date with new technology
• Patience
• Teamwork
• Verbal and written communication / interpersonal skills

What Can You Do with a Network Management Degree?

Technology touches almost every part of our lives. Almost every business relies, to some extent, on technology. This means that network management professionals are in demand. Career opportunities for them are available in a variety of sectors and industries, including:

• Business (examples: aerospace, transportation, telecommunications, banking, energy and utilities, education, media)
• Government
• Manufacturing
• Medical / Healthcare
• Military
• Research
• Security

In each of these areas, there are positions in:

• Network administration
• Network analysis, planning, and management
• Network technical support
• Network troubleshooting and support
• Network security
• Network operations
• Voice or data communications analysis and administration
• Internet / intranet administration

Examples of specific roles / titles are:

Computer Systems Administrator – ensures an organization’s computers, software and operating systems are maintained and up to date
• Computer and Information Systems Manager – researches and provides oversight on a variety of programs from internet operations to network security and user access permissions
Computer Network Architect / Computer Systems Engineer – designs networks of all sizes; works with senior management and project managers to design and implement network configurations, troubleshoot issues, monitor networks, and configure security systems such as firewalls; maintains the connectivity of the network including data, voice, video, and wireless network services; this senior role typically requires a master’s degree
Computer Systems Analyst – ensures all computers within a network effectively communicate with one another by creating hardware and software configurations that help improve system functionality
Technical Support Specialist – provides support to customers experiencing computer-related problems
Security Systems Administrator – with the threat of hackers, cyber-criminals, and online terrorists, security specialists are in demand both in the military and in civilian occupations

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