Network Administration at SUNY Ulster FAQs page.


Answers on this page are based upon real questions from students and prospective students


Click here for program planning sheets and other resources

Outside of owning a laptop, I don't know much about computers, so I'm wondering how difficult the program would be considering that.
It's difficult in terms of effort and time that you will need to invest. The material is middle of the road but comes quickly.

Are there programming courses that require a lot of math?
Yes and no. Essentially, networking involves programming the devices that make up a network. This is different from programming applications. You will learn a large set of specialized commands as you progress. The math is just about precalculus level which is actually relatively easy. You will need to know binary numbers and binary/decimal/hex conversions cold. You should also be able to handle logic with your eyes closed and symbolic pattern recognition is extremely helpful.

For example, what it the pattern here? What do these numbers have in common?
  • 00000001
  • 00000010 
  • 00000100 
  • 00001000 
  • 00010000 
  • 00100000 
  • 01000000 
  • 10000000
  • 10001010
  • 00001001
  • 01101011
  • 11111111
  • 10011001 
  • 10101010
  • 01101100
  • (Hint write and read them in a column)

              That's about as difficult as it gets.

Be aware that there is a lot of math that you will need to know. It's just not all that difficult.

Our MAT(h) 120 Class, (which you should take during your first fall at Ulster) will prepare you well for the program.

Alternately, if you really love math and you've passed precalc and are moving up, we sometimes substitute for the math 120 class.
I tried computer science way back when and was turned off pretty quickly by the high levels of math needed.
Too bad, it's a good field but you do need a Bachelor's degree to do well.
What is the workload like?
Remember that our core networking classes run on a compressed schedul. Two classes per semester vs one for lesser institutions.
As a rule, three hours "on your own" for every hour in the classroom holds true for the networking curriculum. Cisco is rather rigorous - which is why those who do well are paid well.   Semester I is somewhat less so, (2 for 1 perhaps). After that, the routine goes something like this:

  1. Read the online materials / textbook at home.
  2. 1-2 Hours lecture by a 2-3 hour lab twice per week. (3-1/2 hours per sessions but many students stay for 4 hours).  
  3. Review the material for the unit
  4. Take a chapter exam online to Cisco. - there is a several day window for these - generally one week.
  5. If you do not pass the exam then you get a second chance :-)
  6. Start the next unit.

The largest issue is that there are many topics to cover and it is easy to get behind if you are not disciplined. The good news is that the total time span is finite and you will feel major a sense of accomplishment.

The Saturday program (when available) combines the two 3-1/2 hour sessions for the week into a single 8 hour session for CCNA 1 & 2. This still means two units per week but the lecture and lab take place on a single day.

The evening program mirrors the daytime program

As an instructor, I need to retrain periodically and I spend about 10-12 hours per module when I do. (And I am supposed to already know something LOL).

Now that you are questioning your choices, please realize that YOU CAN DO IT!  The work is steady but manageable, and the rewards (both in knowledge and ultimately) are great. At the end of the process you can be one of an elite pool of specialists in high technology. So many of my younger students comment after two years about how much they have grown and discovered about themselves.

Another question I have is regarding the certification. What would this program qualify me for as far as that goes?
It will help to prepare you for several industry certifications. These include A plus, Network plus, CISCO CCNA, CCNP and several others. 

CCNP is, of course, the most highly respected certification and requires the most dedication.

And what would be your suggestions as far as what would be best to get certified in if you have to choose?

As many as possible. A plus first to see how the process works, then CCNA at a minimum.

I'm also concerned about the job market. Is there a demand for network administrators?

Just look on the web at the headhunter sites. Answer this one for yourself. 

If you are actually asking "Can I work in central Ulster County for six figures?" - most of those positions are already filled by our graduates.
There are many jobs if you can travel or relocate.
Here is one link of many:  http://ccnajobs.org/search-now/?pid=7381155285993830&indpubnum=7381155285993830&q=CCNA&l=ny

Can you give me an idea about the post graduation employment rate?

We conducted an informal survey of 41 graduates during the Fall of 2015 


Can you give me an idea about pass rate for Certification Exams amoung Ulster graduates?

We conducted an informal survey of graduates during the Fall of 2016 


What other options would be available to you if there isn't a demand for this degree?

Computer Science, natural science, engineering, scuba diving, nursing, basket weaving, etc. Just read the Ulster catalog or check out the web site. You can also contact our admissions office. I coordinate the networking program. You might ask yourself why I would do that if there was no demand for this knowledge?

Would I need a bachelor's (degree) to get employed or would this be sufficient enough?

Not with CCNA and CCNP. One of our graduates was hired right out of our program with a CCNP and an associates for $101k. The salary is not typical. Bachelor's helps but is just an adjunct with networking. Bachelor's or above is pretty much mandatory for Computer Science.

Exactly where would one look to get hired?

This answer is a secret. It is only available to graduates of the program. If we tell you now then ...
However see the above. Read the papers and phone book. Ask yourself,  "Which of these places would need a network engineer?", "Which of these places might have an in-house network?", and similar questions.

I am interested in attaining my CCNP certification. I currently hold a valid CCNA, and have not taken any of the NP tests. Is this a possibility?
If {you are not seeking a degree} then {if you have an operating systems class AND a hardware class} then you could take only the CCNP classes here at Ulster.

Our classes give you the material that you need to pass the CCNP exams. Passing is up to you. Unfortunately, we do not currently offer the exams on campus.

Are distance courses offered for this?

The classes are classroom only. No distance learning. Actual hand-on experience with hardware is essential in the field. Since most students do not have an off-site lab available, we do not offer online classes at this time.
I took all of these classes in BOCES. Why do I need to take them again?

You're not going to like this answer. BOCES classes are a wonderful introduction to networking. The problem is that they fall far short of the rigor of what teach at the College level. Alternate learning environments also tend to make heavy use of simulators rather than hands-on training on actual hardware.

At Ulster, we do the opposite. Nearly all labs are required to be completed on hardware (supplied, of course) with simulators used as adjuncts and teaching tools.

Invariably, our students who have studied networking previously, have commented that they really learned it here. All have said to maintain the rigor and hands-on exercises.


Registration Questions

I would like to know when is a good appointment time for the xxxx semester schedule.

          The advisement schedule is posted outside of my office door. Pick a slot: The ones shown there are the only ones available.
          Please come prepared with a program planning sheet, your transcript, and a plan.


The section that I want is full. Can you get me in?

          (I hear this question often. Generally from late registrants)
                   No.
The section is full.  The harsh reality is that resources are limited and the maximum class size is there for good reasons. The entire class will suffer if we overload it. We know this from painful experience.
          Luckily, there is often a simple solution. Register for the other section.

Why should I register early instead of the last minute?

          Registering early helps you get into the most convenient section for you. Sometimes all sections fill up and you won't be able to take the class until a later semester or even for a year.  Early registration also helps the college to plan how many sections to offer.


Karl R. Wick CCAI

Associate Professor

Networking/CIS/CSC