A computer networking degree prepares graduates for careers designing, building, and managing data communications networks between computers and devices.
Find everything you need to know about computer networking degree programs in this guide.
We start with an overview of the course and possible postgraduate positions. We then guide you through the assessment of your strengths, interests and career goals. Finally, we dive into the basics of coursework, required skills, and tuition fees.
What is a Computer Networking Degree?
Colleges and universities offer degrees in computer networking at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.
Courses focus on topics such as computer programming, cyber security, database management, network design, operating systems and scripting, and routing and switching. Coursework may be similar or nearly identical to a network administration degree.
Concentration areas can be:
- Applied Mathematics
- computer science
- cloud computing
- Computational Biology
- wireless networks
As a student, you will build skills in information security and network configuration, flow optimization, management and troubleshooting.
Potential computer networking careers include:
- Managers of computer and information systems
- Computer Network Architects
- Computer systems analysts
- Network and computer system administrators
- network engineers
- Field Engineer
Is computer networking right for me?
To answer this question, you need to understand your strengths and interests, what these professionals do, and how to get into the field.
Think about your strengths.
Successful computer networking professionals are skilled in:
- Adaptation to technological change
- Learn new processes
- Analyzing problems and offering solutions
- Communicating with customers, team members and supervisors
- Maintain focus and notice details
Strengths in programming, math and statistics are key to job performance. If you are considering managerial roles, you will need leadership, collaboration and business skills.
Consider your interests.
Computer networks tend to attract people who are interested in both the theory and the practical side of computer science and network engineering. You love to translate complex information for a non-specialist audience.
The job involves many problem solving. Computer networking experts often channel their inner detectives and apply creative thinking to solve problems. They are also interested in collaborating with colleagues.
Visualize the kind of career you want.
Computer networking takes place in offices and server rooms with networking hardware, but organizations can also allow working from home. Businesses typically require at least 40 hours of work per week. Depending on your role, you may need to travel to locations and clients.
The job comes with multiple and competing deadlines that can be stressful and require the ability to prioritize and communicate under pressure to resolve issues quickly. Businesses also expect you to learn new skills and may require ongoing training.
Consider what it takes to break into a computer networking career.
Many positions require a bachelor’s degree and some information technology experience.
Taking advantage of hands-on tech internship opportunities at technology companies, government agencies, and healthcare organizations can help you build a resume and credentials.
Another way to get a job is to develop in-demand industry skills. Earning Cisco, CompTIA, and other technical certifications can improve your chances of getting a job offer.
What to Expect from Computer Networking Courses
Computer network curriculums include computer science courses, but there are differences between the two. This section covers them along with what to expect in your computer networking program.
The courses are more focused than computer science or information technology courses.
A computer science degree focuses on the theory and understanding of what is possible in computer science. Computer network programs include computer science courses such as data structures and algorithms, operating systems, programming language structure, and software development.
Computer science courses provide the basis for the narrower focus of computer networking studies in later studies.
Similarly, computer science majors include computer science courses, as IT professionals use and maintain software developed by computer scientists.
The courses are a mix of theory and practice.
Computer networking degree programs emphasize both theoretical and practical skills.
While computer networks encompass the connectivity of computer systems and devices, network professionals can also do the following:
- Test and configure software
- Fix system errors
- Secure data, software and information
For this reason, computer networking degrees introduce theories to the development of computer and web applications.
In addition, computer networking professionals team up with other information technology professionals. Knowledge of the theories helps interdisciplinary teams to communicate and collaborate.
There may be skills you would like to learn outside of your computer networking classes.
By taking additional courses in business, electrical engineering, and writing (think project proposals and design specifications), you’ll gain skills that can help you break into the field of computer networking.
If you are interested in working in a specific industry, e.g. For example, in healthcare, scientific research, or finance, take courses in these areas to complete your education.
Internships and certifications can help you differentiate after graduation.
Computer networking degree programs can organize internships for students to gain professional skills, work references, and valuable contacts. Or you can find your own options.
Try searching for internships on job boards like Glassdoor or AngelList Talent.
Information technology certifications offer another way to differentiate yourself from job seekers. Many schools will prepare you to earn and pass industry-standard certifications over the course of your degree.
A computer networking degree offers a wide range of opportunities, from earning an associate degree to exploring career opportunities to specializing your studies in a master’s program.
Customize your path to suit your background, strengths and interests, and time and financial constraints.
This article was reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico
In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuatico completed her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, which gave her the foundation she needed to excel in roles such as data engineer, frontend developer, UX designer, and computer science teacher.
Monali is currently a data engineer at Mission Lane. As a Data Analytics Captain at a non-profit organization called COOP Careers, Monali helps recent graduates and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on their career development journey.
Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building communities, advocating mental health, empowering women and educating youth. Monali’s goal is to gain more experience in her field, expand her skills, and do meaningful work that makes a positive impact on the world.
Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
Last checked May 3, 2022.