Much thanks for the greet.
Here is the website: https://www1.dcccd.edu/cat0809/programs ... n_supp_aas
And yes, job availability mostly. The other concern would be yearly salary; which I find hard to pinpoint. I've had searches that have 42k to 65k, but I'm sure it depends on where you work, yes?
About getting Network+ certified, you're saying that wouldn't be a good idea. However, what about Server+, Security+, or Cisco? Would they do me any good?
I took a look at that the track outline. Honestly, If it were me, I'd be looking into the Cisco or Unix/Linux track. Cisco knowledge and experience is key to winning the hearts and minds of most IT Directors and Senior Admins (the guys that do the hiring most of the time). The pool of jobs for UNIX/Linux professionals is almost as big as for MS pros. However, the pool of talent is much less for *NIX, thus, leaving you with less to compete with. If you don't care for UNIX/Linux, then go with one of the MS paths. You'll still get a job just fine, but you also have to remember that every prospective member of the IT workforce is probably gunning for a MS job, with more and more being churned out in new batches by the hour. *NIX is usually self-taught with a mix of college experience. Windows skills are taught at every University, Community College, Technical School, Career Training Center, and State Work programs, with a little bit of self-taught experience.
As for salary, with no experience, and a couple certs, don't expect much. Even with a good certification or two, and your AS degree, you'll still be lucky to get any job as a an admin. Being a network/systems administrator isn't something you read in a book, or learn in a classroom. You learn by doing. You'll make one hell of a candidate for helpdesk or DST work though. In these types of situations, you can work your way up the same company into the position of SysAdmin, or you can use your HelpDesk/Tech experience when looking for a real admin position. Like I said, most work their way up. Some gifted few get an admin position, but it's not likely.
I still didn't really answer your question, and I apologize. Honestly, it really depends on your experience (Compensation: DOE), and what you can offer your company. I'm guessing the average pay for a rookie admin is at least $40k/year, but I'm not positive and am basing that on the thousands of job descriptions I've read for doing this type of work, and the research into the job itself. You're correct on the location part too. It's very dependent on where you live. For instance, you'll probably make notably more money working in a metro area than you would a smaller town. Also, states that usually have a higher cost of living like California for example, are much more likely to pay more. Even at an entry-level IT job though, you'll still make 2x what others do. If I got out of the grocery store and into IT, I could easily make 2x what I do now.
As far as certs go, I didn't say the Net+ wasn't a bad cert. For someone just getting into this, the Net+ is a good one to have and is a big accomplishment. However, if you check out the want ads for SysAdmin jobs, you'll often find they want you to be a specialist in everything they need, (which varies wildly between companies). The whatever+ certs are good certs. They show you have a good foundational knowledge of the topic. However something more specialized will always get you farther, but only for a company that needs it more. Having exprerience iwith Blackberry Enterprise server doesn't mean a thing when the company is using Palm devices, right? Your Cisco cert is just an acronym when applying at a Nortel or Bay Networks shop. You get it.
The A+ and Network+ are good certs. Companies do ask for them from a lot of applicants who're just getting into IT. A+/Net+ is a good starting combo. Cisco is a definite yes. If you have ever checked out some CCNA material, and compare it to Net+ objectives, you'd be shocked. It makes the Network+ looks like child's play. A CCNA will do your resume very well. As for Server+ and Security+, I've never, ever seen a company ask for them, nor have I ever heard of a company wanting their IT staff to have Security+ and Server+ certs. The Server+ cert is essentially the A+ for servers, but several of it's topics are just as well covered in the Network+ exam. Odd, eh? The A+ and Net+ are worth going for. The CCNA will carry more weight on a resume, and you'll also know your stuff much, much better. If you're getting into the Linux/UNIX side of things. Red Hat and Sun Microsystems have some of the nicest certs around. Red Hat only uses a performance-based testing method, so that means that should you pass, you truly do know your stuff. Solaris certs are good because Solaris is still a very viable option for new networks, old networks, and all those in between. You'll still see job postings for HP-UX 11/11i or AIX5L admins wanted, but these are fewer and farther between than Red Hat and Solaris.
Hope I've helped you out some.
My advice to you, if you're truly looking into getting into this field, I've learned it has to be because you truly have a passion for it. Don't go into IT for the money, or because you think it'll make you cooler, or whatever. Do it because you have a deep passion for computers, networks, programs, and all things geeky. You can't just read it in a book, or hear it in a classroom. You have to eat, sleep, and breath it. I definitely commend you for going to college. Don't take it for granted. There are lots of people who really want to go to college, but either can't afford it, or they've fallen into a very niche hole in the system (that'd be me). While you're in school, don't just stick to the course curriculum. Set up your own network with multiple routers and switches. Setup and manage Web, Mail, LDAP, DNS, DHCP, Firewall, Backup, Network monitoring, and application servers on your network for the fun of it. Build a server. Then build a second and setup a HA/Failover setup. Read up on software and OS documentation. Read up on security patches and malware. Read up on the non-technical side of being a Network Administrator (working with users, time management, etc). Oh, and still leave a bit of time for friends and that special someone, or you'll probably go postal and kill everyone.
I highly suggest this book BTW.
http://www.amazon.com/What-All-Network- ... 769&sr=8-1