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Network And Systems Administrators picture    Network And Systems Administrators image

Network and computer systems administrators are professionals who are responsible for designing, installing, and supporting computer systems within an organization. They are responsible for establishing and maintaining networks, including local-area networks (LAN), wide-area networks (WAN), and/or Internet/intranet systems. The scope of their duties and responsibilities often depends on the size of the organization they work for. The job exists in a wide variety of organizations, from small businesses to government agencies to large corporations. Based on the needs of their customers, administrators identify and evaluate system and network requirements and then implement and maintain the hardware and software which meets those needs. The job involves the monitoring of large and small networks, analysis and troubleshooting of problems, and the planning and coordination of network security measures.

Network and systems administrators need to make sure that all components of a network are working together properly. For this reason, the scope of their responsibility is typically not confined to a single device or even to a small group of them. Nor is it confined to one aspect of a system. All components of a network, including hardware, software, and communication among components need to coordinate properly. Also, the performance of existing networks must continuously be monitored, adjusted, and surveyed to determine future network needs. In addition to troubleshooting problems reported by users and by automated network monitoring systems, administrators must also keep abreast of the latest technological advances and be prepared to make recommendations for future system upgrades.

Responsibilities

The primary function of a network and system administrator is to install, support, and maintain the components of a computer system, including servers and networking elements. In addition, administrators are typically responsible for maintaining cognizance of the newest technologies in order to determine how these can be configured to best serve the short- and long-term goals of their organizations. Although the specific duties of a system administrator tend to vary widely from one organization to another, responsibilities may include any or all of the following:

  • maintenance of network hardware and software
  • determination of system hardware and software requirements
  • ensuring continuous network availability to all system users
  • performance of necessary maintenance to support network availability
  • supervision of network support and client server specialists
  • identification of potential issues with computer systems or network
  • planning and implementation of network security measures
  • recommendation of changes to improve systems and network configurations
  • maintenance of parts inventory for repairs
  • implementation of updates, patches, and configuration changes
  • configuration and testing of operating system and networking hardware and software
  • performance of routine network startup and shutdown procedures
  • performance of routine backups
  • maintenance of control records
  • coordination of computer network access and use

Job Characteristics

Network and systems administrators can be found in many types of business environments, including those associated with industry, government, manufacturing, and education. They normally work in comfortable offices or environmentally-controlled computer laboratories which can sometimes be cold. A typical work week is a standard 40 hours; however many administrators tend to be "on call" for extended evening or weekend duty. Overtime is not uncommon due to the significant possibility of unexpected computer or network technical problems arising. Administrators who work as consultants can be away from their offices for extended periods of time and may need to work in a client's office for weeks or even months at a time. To an increasing extent, administrators are now often able to provide technical support from remote locations, reducing the need to travel to a customer's workplace.

The job is usually performed in a comfortable setting and the profession tends to be interesting and generally well-paying. Drawbacks are the negatives commonly associated with workers who type on a keyboard for long periods, including back discomfort, eyestrain, and hand/wrist problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Frequent deadlines and the importance of accuracy and precision can be causes for stress. Also, the need to constantly interact with people (e.g., customers and fellow employees) in answering questions and giving advice, while satisfying, can also be frustrating at times, particularly if the computer systems are not working like they are supposed to.

People who are successful in this field need to have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Just as importantly (or even more importantly), they need good communication skills due to the fact that helping others and troubleshooting problems for them are vital parts of the job. The need to constantly interact with others requires administrators to possess good "people skills" and to be able to communicate effectively over the phone, on paper, via e-mail, and face-to-face. In addition, good writing skills are an added plus due to the importance of preparing user manuals and other types of documentation for employees and customers.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (USDL BLS), employment of network and systems administrators is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations over the next several years. Demand for administrators will be fueled by an increased investment in new technologies by firms combined with an ongoing reliance on computer networks as an integral part of business. The trend towards electronic commerce and a growing reliance on mobile technologies will enhance the use of the Internet as a tool for conducting business online. Systems administrators will be needed to manage this technology for organizations that want to use it to communicate with employees, clients, and consumers. A growing emphasis on "cyber security", technology to protect vital computer networks and electronic infrastructures from attack, is expected to add to the growth in new system administrator jobs. It should be noted that this overall job growth projection may be tempered somewhat by offshore outsourcing, as firms are increasingly inclined to transfer work to countries with skilled workers who demand lower prevailing wages.

College graduates who are proficient in state-of-the-art technological skills will benefit most greatly from the anticipated job growth in the administrator field. Those who have supplemented their formal education with relevant work experience will be in an especially advantageous position. Employers will always place a high premium on job candidates who possess an attractive combination of strong fundamental computer skills and good interpersonal and communication skills.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

To an increasing extent, a bachelor's degree in computer science, business, or a related field is required to enter this profession. Employers in smaller organizations may require only an associate degree or certificate combined with some level of on-the-job experience. Some larger firms may require a master's in business administration (MBA) degree. Some colleges and universities now tailor segments of their Computer Science program specifically to systems administration and some have started offering undergraduate degrees in Systems Administration.

Generally speaking, administrators will need to have some experience with the specific computer or network system they are expected to manage. There are hundreds of industry certifications available, some of them product or vendor-specific and others more general. In many cases, candidates for network and systems administrator jobs are expected to possess one or more of these. Some of the most desirable and widely-recognized include the following:

  • CompTIA's A+ or Network+
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), Network Administrator (CCNA), or Network Professional (CCNP)
  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)
  • Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
  • Linux Professional Institute Certification Level 2 (LPIC-2)
  • Novell Certified Linux Professional (CLP)
  • Sun Certified Network Administrator (SCNA)
  • BSD Certification

There are many avenues open to the network and systems administration professional who wishes to enhance his/her skills or advancement opportunities. Continuing education programs are regularly offered by employers, hardware and software vendors, colleges and universities, and training institutions. In addition, many firms make professional development seminars and conferences readily available on a periodic basis.

Resources

Major Employers

Although many network and systems administrators work in high technology industries, the profession is by no means confined to this business segment. Administrators exist throughout the economy, in virtually every type of industry including those in both the private sector and in government. Employers range from startup companies to established industry leaders. Some examples of organizations that employ system/network administrators are: financial institutions, insurance companies, educational institutions, health care organizations, software publishers, and telecommunications organizations. The increasing emphasis on client-server applications, the expansion of the Internet, and the ongoing demand for end-user support combine to make network and systems administrators in demand virtually everywhere.

Schools for Network And Systems Administrators are listed in the column to the left.

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Network and Systems Administrators

To find out more about building a career as Network Administrators, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Network and Systems Administrators

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 87,680 26% $71,010
Education 31,470 9% $57,010
Business Management 22,280 6% $70,680
Telecommunications 20,950 6% $67,980
Government 15,690 4% $62,230
Banking And Credit 12,520 3% $65,500
Office Services And Staffing 12,200 3% $64,970
Insurance 11,240 3% $67,160
Durable Goods Wholesale 10,690 3% $63,020
Traditional Publishing 9,130 2% $74,360
Hospital 8,920 2% $64,270
Internet Service Provider 8,900 2% $67,730
Medical Office 5,710 1% $60,240
Electronics And Computer 5,550 1% $71,770
Securities And Investment 5,540 1% $78,300
Non-profit 4,220 1% $62,630
Metal Products 3,560 1% $61,200
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
 
Results:  10
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Programs
  • Microsoft Systems and Security Analyst
  • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
  • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
  • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training.
  • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto and Redding in California, and Salem in Oregon.
Programs
  • MCSA
  • CCNP
  • CompTIA Network+
  • An accredited computer training academy preparing students to enter the IT industry as Network Engineers, Software Engineers, Web Apps Developer, Website Designers, Programmers, Database Administrators since 2000.
  • Holds A+ certification from CompTIA.
  • Located in Los Angeles, approximately 10 minutes away from LAX.
  • Flexible class schedules offered during day times, evenings and weekends.
  • Helping students start a career in technology within 3 - 9 months.
  • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
  • Military friendly school.
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Los Angeles
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Programs
  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity
  • The M.S. in Cybersecurity provides the necessary foundations for the design and development of systems that are assured to be secure
  • Founded in 1901, the school has maintained its reputation as a leader in the field, offering a curriculum built on theory, fundamentals, and application with a worldwide community of over 20,000 engineering and computer science alumni
  • Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science is designated by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE) since 2001 and as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research (CAE-R) since 2009.
  • Designed and taught by Syracuse faculty, the curriculum built on theory, fundamentals, and application.
Programs
  • Certificate/Information Assurance and Cybersecurity
  • Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity
  • Master of Science in Information Technology /Cybersecurity

See What’s Possible When You Earn a Degree at Florida Tech 100% Online

Whatever your motivation for considering an undergraduate or graduate degree, Florida Tech offers programs online that can meet your needs. Here are a few reasons Florida Tech may be the right choice for you.

Programs
  • Computer Technology & Networking (AAS)
  • Offers several scholarship opportunities for students who qualify.
  • Laptop computers are issued to each student at the beginning of their program.
  • Provides programs in health care, business, information technology, and graphic arts.
  • Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

Our family of non-profit colleges admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.

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San Marcos
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Programs
  • Computer & Network Technician
  • Offers career programs in accounting, cosmetology, massage therapy, physical fitness training, and more.
  • Provides hands-on training led by instructors who have relevant, on-the-job experience.
  • Each campus features a public salon and spa for student practice.
  • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and Council on Occupational Education (COE).
  • 11 campuses across California, Texas, Nevada and Idaho, as well as 8 additional Milan Institute of Cosmetology campuses.
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Sparks
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Programs
  • MS in Cyber Security
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
Programs
  • Cybersecurity (Professional Science Masters) - Online
  • For the 12th consecutive year, Cal U was named one for the best schools in the Northeast by The Princeton Review 
  • Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017
  • Quality Online courses at Cal U have the same objectives, content and learning outcomes as campus-based programs and are taught by the same expert professors.
  • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost. Student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1
  • CAL U online programs complete an annual assessment of student learning to ensure outcomes are focused on your success in career entry, advancement or enhancement!
Programs
  • Certificate - Information Technology (Networking)
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
  • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
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Visalia
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Programs
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Network Communications

Our objective is to prepare you for a life-long, successful career in Media Arts, Business or Information Technology. Our goal is to provide you with the best possible foundation that will serve you in your first job as well as throughout your career.

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Monrovia
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CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Network and Systems Administrators.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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