Network Administrator

Career Information

A network administrator working on a computer
Erik Isakson / Blend Images / Getty Images

Job Description

A network administrator, sometimes called a systems or system administrator; an IT manager, director or specialist; or a LAN administrator, manages an organization's computer networks. His or her areas of expertise include local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and intranets. They organize, install and provide support for these systems.

Employment Facts

Approximately 366,000 people worked in this occupation in 2012.

While most network administrators are employed in the computer systems design, educational and information industries, jobs can be found in many different types of organizations.

Educational Requirements

Most employers prefer to hire job candidates who have a bachelor's degree in computer science or in information science although some will hire workers who have only a postsecondary certificate. Some network administrators have a degree in computer or electrical engineering.

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements

Those who work in this occupation often have certifications from software vendors such as Cisco, Microsoft, Juniper or CompTia. This will demonstrate to employers that you have expertise in a particular product. To become certified you will typically have to pass an exam. You can prepare for it by using study materials available from the vendor and participating in training they have approved.

 Network administrators must be willing to keep up with new technologies in this continuously changing field, even getting additional certifications as necessary.

While technical skills obtained through formal training and certifications are important, network administrators also need certain soft skills, or personal qualities.

 Strong critical thinking and problem solving skills will allow you to solve problems within an organizations' computer network after weighing all the possible options and determining which will be most effective. Good listening skills will help you communicate with your colleagues. In order to understand written documentation, you will need good reading comprehension skills.

Advancement Opportunities

After gaining experience as a network administrator you can become a computer network architect or a computer and information systems manager.

Why Do You Need to Know About Advancement?

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of network administrators will grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2022.

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?

Earnings

Network administrators earned a median annual salary of $75,790 and hourly wages of $36.44 in 2014.

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A Day in a Network Administrator's Life

These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for network administrator positions found on Indeed.com:

  • Provide technical oversight of a multi-site enterprise level WAN, including planning, implementation/expansion, maintenance, and troubleshooting
  • Prepare and maintain documentation of network configurations and cabling layouts
  • Manage telecommunication needs
  • Design, deploy and administer the Wireless Infrastructure and supporting systems
  • Recommend upgrades, patches, and new applications and equipment
  • Train team members on new hardware or software
  • Research and recommend innovative, and where possible automated, approaches for system administration tasks
  • Analyze and monitor server security and make recommendations or implement patches/fixes to address potential security holes
  • Provide hardware and operating system support for the corporate and field computer systems environment, UNIX, Linux, Windows, storage and Tape Library
  • Provide on call and weekend support when needed

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

 DescriptionAnnual Salary (2014)Educational Requirements
Computer Network Support SpecialistProvides technical support to an organization's IT staff$61,830Associate degree for most jobs; a bachelor's degree for some positions
Web DeveloperResponsible for the look and technical aspects of websites$63,490Associate degree for most jobs; high school diploma or bachelor's degree for some
Web AdministratorMaintains websites$83,410Bachelor's degree or post-secondary certificate
Computer Network ArchitectBuilds data communication networks such as LANs, WANs and intranets$98,430Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems or engineering

Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Network and Computer Systems Administrators, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm (visited July 15, 2015).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Network and Computer Systems Administrators, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/15-1142.00​  (visited July 15, 2015).

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