Online IT Degree Now Available

Ashland Community and Technical College is starting an online degree in Information Technology (IT) this fall. The Associate in Applied Science Degree in Network Administration has Microsoft and Cisco networking options, and it is the same degree now offered on campus but with all classes on the web.

An online degree option will benefit many students who work while attending college, said David Childress, associate professor and Information Technology program coordinator. The Internet makes college accessible to those who otherwise find it difficult or impossible to take classes.

Network administrators design, set-up, maintain and troubleshoot the networks that enable computer systems to communicate with each other.

The Network Administration degree combines technical IT courses with general education courses in writing, mathematics, science, social science and the humanities. Students choose whether to specialize in Microsoft or Cisco networking.

Those who complete the degree will automatically earn certificates in A+, IT Fundamentals, and either Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA). These are the industry standards that employers look for when seeking potential IT professionals.

No Experience Needed

People entering an IT program 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, and a desire to learn.

IT careers in general, and networking careers in particular, are good choices for people who like to solve problems and who want a working environment that combines technical and interpersonal skills. Classes at ACTC can help students learn both.

There's a misconception that computer science is too tough for ordinary people, that there are few jobs and that the work is repetitive, with little contact with other people, Childress said.

Computers are everywhere and network specialists are part of a team, interacting with everyone in an organization. Since troubleshooting is involved, there's a new challenge every day. And we've had students start with an introductory computer class and become so interested in the field that they went on for a degree, Childress added.

Build a Degree

Whether classes are online or on campus, Information Technology is a field for the future.

Students who want to build job qualifications, a few courses at a time, can start with A+ certification, which requires just three courses.

With five more computer courses, students earn a certification in Information Technology Fundamentals. Then by adding general education courses and networking courses in Cisco or Microsoft networking, students can earn the associate degree.

The multiple certificate and degree options reflect the growing number of computer-related occupations available to graduates.

IT Job Opportunities

Computers are an integral part of business, education, and society in general. Employment opportunities include entry-level positions in businesses and organizations, self employment, and consultant services.

Information Technology jobs are in demand, according to the Kentucky Education Cabinet, Department for Workforce Investment. Statistics by the Research and Statistics Branch of the Office of Employment and Training show that Computer Support Specialists are in the top ten Kentucky occupations that require an associate degree or postsecondary education.

Further, for jobs requiring a bachelors degree, Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts top the list of Kentucky occupations with the fastest growth rate to 2014.

The job outlook also looks promising close to home. Occupations with the largest percentage growth in the FIVCO area (Includes Boyd, Carter, Greenup, Elliott and Lawrence counties) are Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts, according to Workforce Kentucky FIVCO Area Occupational Outlook to 2014.

IT Transfer Options

For some students, an associate degree is a big step toward a bachelors degree. ACTC has 2+2 transfer options for online bachelors degrees with Western Kentucky University (Information Technology) and Murray State University (Telecommunications System Management).

Students may also choose to transfer to other universities for online or on campus degrees.

For more information on Information Technology degrees and options, please contact David Childress at 606-326-2004 or email: david.childress@kctcs.edu. For information on ACTC admissions and financial aid, go to the web at ashland.kctcs.edu.