Network Administrator Job Description
Network Administrators keep a company’s technology system running smoothly. They make sure computers and other devices are operating correctly so that employees can do their jobs. Because business operations in the 21st century are so dependent on technology, Network Administrators (sometimes called Systems Administrators) must act quickly when problems arise. Sometimes this leads to overtime or being called in over the weekend to troubleshoot. Part of a Network Administrator’s job may also be to examine the organization’s services and goals in order to plan for future technological purchases and needs.
Virtually any company that uses multiple computers needs one or more Network Administrators. Thus, Network Administrators find work in a variety of sectors, including education, transportation, insurance, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, government and business. Demand for Network Administrators is expected to increase 8 percent through 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. This growth translates to 30,200 new jobs being created during that time period.
Network Administrator Duties and Responsibilities
From our analysis of job postings, Network Administrators perform a variety of duties in their quest to keep computer systems working properly. Key responsibilities frequently include the following:
Network administrators examine the day-by-day performance of the organization’s network and back up its data. They also install network hardware and software and teach people to use it.
Whether the whole server goes down or an individual is having difficulty accessing email, the Network Administrator examines the problem and uses his or her expertise to rectify the situation.
Network Administrators add users, deal with passwords, delete old accounts, construct firewalls and take other protective measures to ensure data isn’t compromised and unauthorized users cannot gain access to the system.
Network Administrators look at data to figure out how well the system is working and accomplishing needs. Findings may result in them seeking improved methods/equipment and consulting with vendors.
Network Administrator Skills
While a love of computers and technology is at the heart of becoming a Network Administrator, a variety of other qualities are also central to developing into a top-notch professional. Network Administrators should be thorough in their work and committed to security in order to protect information. They also must be persistent problem solvers capable of drawing from their knowledge in both traditional and creative ways. Employers seek Network Administrators who excel at things such as:
- Adapting to situations, since problems don’t always follow a textbook format
- Attending to details in order to maintain efficiency and spot potential pitfalls
- Handling problems calmly because leaders and employees tend to get irate when technology goes awry
- Strategically analyzing situations (such as “Is it just one person who is having trouble logging on or multiple employees? Do those affected have anything in common, such as the same type of devise or geographic location?”)
- Juggling multiple tasks as needed
- Prioritizing job responsibilities to ensure the most essential matters get handled first
- Aspiring to stay on top of the field through additional training as needed since technology oftentimes changes quickly
- Communicating in language that non-tech people can understand
- Working well with others to understand problems, acquire pertinent information, assign tasks and keep those affected updated
Tools of the trade
Network Administrators typically need to be well-versed on the following:
- Networks – How computers within a system are connected and the geographic coverage, such as LAN (local area network) and WAN (wide area network)
- Servers – The powerful hardware and software that is central to the operation of the whole computer system
- Operating systems – The software that supports the basic functions, such as LINUX
- Cloud computing – Using the Internet to store, manage and process data
- Upgrades – Improvements to ensure the company’s technology continues to meet its needs, such as installing new software or purchasing more powerful hardware
Network Administrator Education and Training
Most Network Administrators hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Common majors include computer network and systems administration, computer science, information science, computer engineering and electrical engineering. Employers sometimes require Network Administrators to get a certificate showing their competency with a specific product, such as Microsoft or Cisco. Hands-on experience also grabs a hiring manager’s attention, so an internship can pay off significantly when searching for a job.
Since technology advances quickly, Network Administrators should plan on continuing their education throughout their career.Employers will often pay for these classes and conferences.
Network Administrator Salary
The median annual salary for Network Administrators, categorized by the BLS as “Network and Computer Systems Administrators,” is $79,700. Network Administrators in the 10th percentile earn about $48,800 a year, and the highest paid make in excess of $127,600 a year. Network Administrators in Maryland, District of Columbia and New Jersey make the highest median salaries in the U.S. – $106,000, $96,290 and $94,870, respectively.
Network Administrator Resources
We checked the Web to find the top industry resources to help you explore a career as a Network Administrator. From relevant books to industry groups, this list offers plenty of sources of helpful information.
Excellence in IT: Achieving Success in an Information Technology Career by Warren C. Zabloudil – For people looking to rise to the top in the field, this book offers advice on subjects such as keeping up with new developments, combating stress and offering top-notch service.
Network Professional Association – The website for this group contains a plethora of resources for Network Administrators of all career levels, such as insightful interviews with successful Network Administrators, articles on topics of interest, job listings and assistance in finding your local chapter.
Networks and Systems Professionals Association – Another great reference point for prospective Network Administrators is NaSPA’s website. The group has been around for more than 30 years and continues to advance with the times, just like technology itself.
Association for Women in Computing – Since 1978, this organization has been helping women advance their computing careers. Mentoring, networking and continuing education are among the topics covered on its website.
Technology Jobs Network – With more than 118,000 members, this LinkedIn group contains a variety of computer professionals who likely can answer your questions about becoming a Network Administrator or steer you in the right direction.
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