What Does a Network Administrator Do?
Computer networks are critical to the success of any business. A network administrator keeps computer networks running dependably. Also called a network systems administrator or network and computer systems administrator, this problem-solver is responsible for reliable day-to-day computer system operations and all related components.
An administrator understands how each piece of equipment works, and how all the elements work together. The administrator offers practical solutions on a deadline. (Think about it: when the network is down, not much is getting done.)
The daily job of a network systems administrator depends on the size of the company. However, at any sized business, this customer service-oriented job is an essential part of any information technology (IT) department.
If you have great communication skills and a knack for technology, keep reading to learn more about the training requirements for this in-demand role.
- Install, troubleshoot and monitor network systems
- Resolve issues with all network elements, including local area networks (LANs), routers, firewalls, storage and more
- Upgrade and maintain software and hardware
- Maintain and upgrade servers for best performance
- Ensure network security and upgrade security components
- Perform data backups
- Develop strategies for improved network performance
- Communicate updates to staff
- May set up and train new users
How To Become a Network Administrator: FAQs
Network administrator requirements: What steps should I take to get this job?
First, get your high school degree or equivalent. If you’re still in high school, take computer science and math classes.
Next, decide on a training path. Some employers require an associate degree or certificate in computer science, information technology or network systems administration; others look for candidates with a bachelor's degree.
Get experience in an entry-level role and gain as many different experiences as you can. Most network administrators have several years of IT experience, typically in user-facing roles such as IT support specialist.
Once you become a network systems administrator, you'll have plenty of options for career growth. This could include being an administrator in a different industry or advancing to become an information security analyst or a systems architect who designs computer systems.
Are there any other qualifications to consider?
Certification requirements vary by employer. Earning certifications is a good idea because they are one of the best ways to stay up to date with the latest techniques. They also serve as proof to future employers that you know your stuff.
There are many options, but the most common are CompTIA, Microsoft and Cisco.
CompTIA credentials run the gamut, from the fundamental, such as CompTIA Network+ and A+, to the specific, such as Cisco Certified Network Professional Enterprise.
Most network administrators work on Microsoft systems. There are many certifications to consider, including the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) or the Microsoft Certified Solution Architect.
For those who focus on Cisco systems, consider the Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT) or Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP).
There are dozens of others, including certifications for Amazon cloud services (AWS) and Linux.
How long does it take to become a network administrator?
Earning a certificate will take from six months to a year. An associate degree will take two years.
Continuing education is ongoing. The technology changes quickly, and you’ll want to keep up!
Network administrator vs. systems administrator: Is there a difference?
These titles are often used interchangeably, but they focus on two different tasks. Network administrators focus on the network and ensuring components work together. Systems administrators focus on specific components of the network and how they function, including hardware and software.
In smaller organizations, these tasks are handled by the same person. In larger organizations, these duties may fall to different people.
What’s the job outlook for network administrators?
Growth is expected to be steady, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS estimates 23,900 job openings each year from 2021 to 2031.
What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?
Successful network administrators often possess these traits:
- Excellent listening skills
- Good at multitasking
- Strong communication skills
- Innovative problem-solving abilities
- Strong customer service skills
- Attention to detail
- Good working knowledge of different computer operating systems
- Excellent analytical skills