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Senior network administrators direct IT personnel and teams to ensure that an organization’s computer systems and networks remain secure and reliable throughout the day. In this role, senior administrators are ultimately responsible for managing the use of wide area networks (WANs), local area networks (LANs), and organization-specific networks. They also take a high-level overview of information technology needs while managing teams that maintain computer networks, monitor network availability, and collect data to enhance security and reliability.
This IT role primarily works on server-side maintenance and deployment tasks while directing teams and specialists that provide user support. The senior network administrator balances technical knowledge with network and data infrastructure management.
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Senior Network Administrator Duties and Responsibilities
The specific responsibilities of a senior network administrator’s role depend on their organization. However, based on postings that we analyzed, this role has several core duties:
Deploy and Configure Networks
The most important duty of the senior network administrator is to establish and configure networks for organization-wide use. The senior network administrator determines the organization's data management and information technology needs and decides how to set up the network and provide users and the organization as a whole with constant access to servers and data storage sites.
Lead IT and Administrative Teams
Senior network administrators lead teams of IT personnel, which can include system and network administrators and IT technicians and specialists. In this aspect of the role, the senior network administrator determines areas of the IT infrastructure that need particular attention or expertise, directs system network administrators to resolve user-side issues, and manages the overall workflow of the IT department.
Maintain System Integrity
The senior network administrator maintains reliable system performance through active monitoring of error logs and user-reported network issues. The senior network administrator conducts regular tests to ensure that the system meets expectations for speed, security, and reliability. As part of this responsibility, the senior network administrator may also work with technicians and administrators to conduct routine system audits, making recommendations to improve reliability and performance.
Improve System Performance
Senior network administrators lead teams to develop and deploy performance-enhancing measures throughout the network. In some organizations, the senior network administrator makes key hardware decisions, such as replacing or upgrading servers or shifting databases to new software to improve network security, reliability, or speed. In these organizations, the senior network administrator develops proposals for IT improvements and investments and presents them to senior managers or executives.
Develop Backend Network Architecture
The senior network administrator works with their team members to design and oversee server-side elements of an organization's network infrastructure. This can include installing network-wide malware protection software, developing firewalls, and configuring databases and access on the back end. The senior network administrator also makes decisions regarding network upgrades and repairs.
Conduct Data Backups
Finally, senior network administrators ensure that data remains intact, secure, and accessible in case of system crashes by conducting data backups. In this aspect of the role, the senior network administrator determines when to back up or transfer data and take the network offline with the least amount of impact or interruption to the organization. After completing a backup, the senior network administrator and their team verify data to ensure a successful backup.
Senior Network Administrator Skills and Qualifications
Senior network administrators work with IT teams to make sure that organization-wide networks are reliable and secure. Senior network administrators tend to have at least a bachelor’s degree, several years of system and network administration experience, and the following skills:
- Hardware and software configuration - senior network administrators should have extensive experience configuring and managing software and hardware related to LANs and WANs
- Information security - senior network administrators support their organization's information security efforts, using best practices and procedures to protect data from intrusion, loss, and corruption
- Team leadership - senior network administrators direct the activities of an entire team of specialists, administrators, and technicians, so effective leadership is a necessity
- Problem-solving skills - senior network administrators conduct regular troubleshooting, which requires both technical and creative problem-solving skills
- Communication skills - senior network administrators also need strong written and verbal communication skills to direct their teams and communicate IT needs to organization leaders
Senior Network Administrator Education and Training
Senior network administrators need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as computer or information science, although many organizations prefer candidates with a master’s degree in a related field. Additionally, senior network administrators usually have several years of experience working as system or network administrators within the same or similar organizations. Most also receive certifications related to their specific fields of specialization.
Senior Network Administrator Salary and Outlook
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary estimates for senior network administrators, they do have data regarding pay for network and computer system administrators. According to the BLS, these administrators earn a median annual wage of $81,100. The highest-paid individuals in this role earn over $130,200 per year, while the bottom 10 percent earn $49,830 annually. Given the increased duties of the senior network administrator, individuals in this role likely fall toward the higher end of this salary range.
The BLS expects employment for network and computer system administrators to grow 6 percent through 2026.
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If you’re interested in working as a senior network administrator, there are many resources on the web to help advance your career:
IT professionals can join AITP to connect with other professionals, access education materials, and learn about changes in the industry
Ramon Nastase teaches readers the fundamentals of computer network development, deployment, and management
senior network administrators can benefit from CompTIA's professional certifications and educational materials at any point in their career
author Joseph D. Sloan provides advice and guidance on troubleshooting and repairing local and wide area networks