ACTC Adds New Online Computer Degrees

Three new online degree options have been added to the Computers and Information Technology (CIT) Program at Ashland Community and Technical College

Network specialist, database administrator, information systems manager, internetworking engineer, network security analyst, web designer and help desk technician are just a few of the jobs that are currently available in Information Technology, and more specializations are being added every year.

Helping people develop skills for those specialized jobs is the reason ACTC has expanded the degree options and skill tracks offered online.

Most of our graduates will probably be involved in network administration jobs, with CISCO or Microsoft emphasis, but we are also serving students who want more focus on a particular area, such as web design or security, said David Childress, ACTCs CIT Program Coordinator.

Our students can now earn an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Network Administration, Applications, Internet Technologies or Information Security, Childress said. Counting all options available in the degree tracks, we now have eight choices for specialization.

Online degrees provide the convenience and flexibility of learning anytime and anywhere without loss of instructional quality. Online learners have opportunities to work on their own schedule but need to be well-organized and self-motivated, with reliable computer and Internet access, Childress said.

"I prefer the online classes because you can do it at your own pace," said Steven Albrecht, a graduate from Fort Gay, WV. "If you're a really busy person, online classes are amazing. The CIT program is challenging but not extremely time intensive. When people ask if they should enroll in the program, I tell them to definitely do it."

To give online students some of the student interaction benefits of being on campus, CIT faculty have established an e-community available to students 24/7. The e-community is a meeting place for posting thoughts, ideas and questions about CIT and as well as a study center with study materials and practice tests.

In addition to the e-community, students get support from CIT faculty who have years of experience teaching online and in-person. Degree plans that list the courses needed each semester can help students determine their schedules.

The plans and other CIT credential details are online at ashland.kctcs.edu/academics/programs_of_study/computers_and_information_technology/index.aspx. ACTC applications and financial aid information are online at Ashland.kctcs.edu.

ACTC online is a really convenient way to get your degree, said Jack Johnson, a 2013 CIT graduate and Information Technology Specialist at ACTC. He was working full time while earning the degree, and online is good for any working student or someone who is not able to be in a physical classroom, he said.

I chose ACTC because it was the most cost effective way to get a degree from an accredited college, Johnson said. That was true then, and its still true today. ACTC is perhaps the only institution around that did not raise tuition this year.

Degree Track Overview

The Network Administration track prepares graduates to design, set-up, maintain and expand network and telecommunications systems. Two specializations are offered Cisco Networking and Microsoft Windows Administration. Graduates are prepared to take industry certification exams, and entry level jobs are available in businesses of all sizes.

The Internet Technologies track prepares graduates to design, program, and maintain Internet-based services. Courses include internet protocols, web programming languages, web server administration, and Microsoft or Unix/Linux infrastructure. Two specializations are offered: Web Programming and Web Server Administration.

The Information Security Track graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in network security, auditing and penetration testing, firewall configuration, and computer crime investigation. Topics include information security fundamentals, offensive and defensive techniques, operating system security and network security design.

The Applications Track covers software for a variety of tasks such as productivity systems, database management, website development and help desk tracking systems.

Four Applications Track specializations are available: Business Software Specialist for developing and maintaining databases, producing financial statements and developing business user applications; Computer Support for computer system configurations, help desk tools, end-user documentation, user training and support; Geographic Information Systems for developing and implementing GIS applications; and Software Support for knowledge of application software, computer system configurations, and data driven websites.

Job Outlook

Employment in computer systems design and related services is projected to grow rapidly, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationally, employment from 2012 to 2022 is projected to grow 17% for computer support specialists, 12% for network administrators and 37% for security analysts.

In Kentucky, growth in jobs by 2020 is over 19% for computer systems analysts, 26% for network and computer systems architects and administrators, and 19% for information security analysis, web developers and computer network architects.

While associate degrees prepare students for immediate entry-level jobs, some students may be planning on a bachelors degree. ACTC provides an affordable start on a bachelors degree with two years of classes that can transfer to universities. ACTC also has a 2+2 transfer agreement with Western Kentucky University, where the entire ACTC degree transfers toward a bachelors degree in System Management.

Students can take their industry certification exams at the college. ACTC is an official Pearson-Vue/CompTIA IT Testing Center and can administer Microsoft, Cisco, Certiport, Adobe, CIW, Oracle and other Information Technology exams.

CIT Certificates

As part of the CIT Program expansion, ACTC now offers 14 certificates. Certificates help students demonstrate computer competencies and prepare for computer industry exams. Many of these certificates are built into the degreesStudents seeking individual certificates can find course requirements in the current KCTCS catalog.

The Computer Technician Certificate consists of the core skills needed for industry A+ and Security+ certifications.

The CIT Fundamentals Certificate consists of classes required for the Associate in Applied Science degree.

The Productivity Software Specialist Certificate consists of core skills to effectively use productivity software products.

The Computer Tech Basic Certificate prepares students for the CompTIA A+ and Net+ certification exams.

The Computer Support Technician Certificate consists of the core skills for computer and end-user support.

The Information Security Specialist Certificate covers skills to build and maintain information security systems.

The Microsoft Network Administrator Certificate covers skills to build and maintain computer networks.

The Microsoft Enterprise Administrator certificate covers skills needed to plan, build, and maintain a Microsoft enterprise network.

The Network Technologies Specialist Certificate consists of skills to configure and maintain networks.

The CISCO Networking Associate Certificate prepares students for the CCNA exam.

The A+ Certificate, Net+ Certificate and Security+ Certificate prepare students for CompTIA exams.

The CISCO Networking Enhanced Certificate prepares students for the CCNA and Net+ exams.

People entering the CIT program for certificates or degrees do not need to be computer whizzes, said Childress. All they need are basic computer skills, such as those learned in an Introduction to Computer class. Well help them learn the rest.

For more information on CIT, contact david.childress@kctcs.edu or AS_CIT @kctcs.edu. Fall classes start August 17, and August 3is the application deadline. Apply now for early class registration.

###