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Computer Administrator Duties and Responsibilities

Computer administrators have several specific, universal core tasks that they are responsible for. Based on our review of job listings, these core tasks are:

Plan Computer and Network Systems Computer administrators analyze and determine what an organization requires in both a network and computer system prior to setting it up and configuring it. If a system is already in place, updates might be necessary.

Install Hardware and Software They are responsible for all installation tasks, including all required network hardware and software. In addition, they are also responsible for adding users to the network and assigning and updating security permissions.

Monitor Performance Another key task is collecting and recording data to evaluate the network or system's performance with the end goal of optimizing the system in a way that makes it work better and more efficiently.

Maintain Systems Once the network is set up, computer administrators must maintain the network and computer systems, including security functions, to ensure optimal performance. Scheduling routine maintenance is also necessary.

Train Users Because computer administrators are responsible for installing and updating different types of computer hardware and software within the network, they must train users on proper use through one-on-one or group training sessions, slideshows, or instructional PDFs.

Troubleshoot Problems Computer administrators must evaluate problems identified by users and make various troubleshooting attempts to solve them. They also must document their attempts for reference.


Computer Administrator Skills and Qualifications

Computer administrators are often certified in the products or services they use within a network. Employers also look for applicants who possess the following abilities:
  • Technical skills - computer administrators must be well versed in the computer hardware and equipment that they work with
  • Analytical thinking - the ability to consider certain concepts and understand how they work and affect other concepts is a key skill
  • Multitasking - a computer administrator for an organization will undoubtedly be called upon many times per day to solve issues. Therefore, the ability to keep cool under pressure and multitask is vital
  • Problem-solving skills - a computer administrator needs to think outside the box and solve problems as efficiently as possible, whether dealing with a single computer or the whole network
  • Interpersonal skills - the ability to explain problems and solutions related to computers or other parts of the network in nontechnical terms is another crucial skill
  • Time management - because a computer administrator juggles multiple tasks throughout each day, managing time well is essential for performance

Computer Administrator Education and Training

The education and training required for a computer administrator can vary depending on the employer. Some employers require a minimum of an associate's degree, while others require a bachelor's degree in an area such as computer or information science. However, a bachelor's in computer or electrical engineering can also meet requirements. College courses cover networking, systems design, and programming. Continuing education is also necessary due to changes in network technology.

Computer Administrator Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the median annual salary for computer administrators as $81,100, with a median hourly wage of $38.99. A computer administrator in the 10th percentile earns approximately $49,830 a year, while the highest paid in the field make $130,200 a year. According to the BLS, 391,300 computer administrators are employed in the United States. Projected employment growth for this sector is 6 percent through 2026.

Helpful Resources

When making a decision about whether a career as a computer administrator is right for you, research helps. Here are some of the best industry resources for computer administrators:

Network and Systems Professionals Association - NaSPA is a membership organization for network and systems professionals that offers various industry-related resources, such as training programs, publications, technology conferences, trade shows, and a job site

The League of Professional System Administrators - LOPSA is a membership organization for system administrators that offers industry-leading programs; hardware, software, and service discounts; and a wealth of resources for career advancement

Everything SysAdmin - run by Tom Limoncelli, who is an author, speaker, and system administrator, this blog offers a wealth of information about general system administration, helpful resources, and links to Limoncelli's industry-related books

CWNA-107: Certified Wireless Network Administrator - authors Tom Carpenter and Mitch Dickey created this official study guide to help people who want to become certified as a WLAN administrator. It includes complete coverage of exam objectives, diagrams, graphics, and call-out notes

Intelligence-Driven Incident Response: Outwitting the Adversary - written by Scott J. Roberts and Rebekah Brown, this guide teaches the basics of intelligence analysis and how to best incorporate them into an incident response process when dealing with a cybersecurity breach

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