What Does a Network Administrator Do? A Behind-the-Scenes Look
So you’re thinking about a career in information technology and you’re curious about the role of a network administrator. Maybe you saw it ranked in U.S. News’ 10 best technology jobs of 2014. Or you heard the position can provide a sweet salary, ranging from $45,270 to $117,150 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
If you’re thinking about a career move toward computers and technology, becoming a network administrator might be the perfect fit. The field of computer systems design is a fun, fast-changing world that we interact with every day. From scheduling doctor’s appointments, to checking your bank balance online, to even reading this article right now—behind each computer network is a network admin who keeps things running smoothly.
You enjoy being on the forefront of new technologies but you’re probably still wondering, “What does a network administrator actually do? ”
Well we’re here to help you answer that question. We gathered real-time market intelligence and government data to help provide a realistic look at what life would be like working as a network admin.
What exactly is a network administrator?
A network administrator, sometimes called a systems administrator, is responsible for keeping an organization’s computer network up to date and running smoothly. Any company or organization that uses multiple computers or software platforms needs a network admin to coordinate the different systems. (That’s a lot of job opportunities!)
This explains the promising job outlook for network admins. Demand for these professionals is projected to increase by up to 35 percent throughout the next decade, according to the BLS. Network admins will especially be in high demand in growing industries like cloud computing and healthcare—which means both interesting work and great job security.
What are the job duties of a network administrator?
A network admin’s job can be wide or narrow depending on the organization and how complex its networks are. But in general, a network admin is responsible for the following tasks:**
- Installing network and computer systems
- Maintaining, repairing and upgrading network and computer systems
- Diagnosing and fixing problems or potential problems with the network and its hardware, software and systems
- Monitoring network and systems to improve performance
What skills does a network administrator need?
Network admins are responsible for both the computer side of things—networks, software and hardware—as well as for the teams and end users they support. That means a network admin should have a combination of problem-solving and people skills.
In addition to the necessary technical knowledge, here are some common skills employers are looking for in a network admin:
Analyzing and critical thinking
Network admins need to explore and solve problems logically and consistently. “[The] ability to take the concepts you’ve learned in school and understand how they work and affect other concepts is the bread and butter of being a network administrator,” says Brad Meyer, systems administrator at TechnologyAdvice. Even if you don’t yet know the solution, he believes thinking critically will help you get there.
Network admins juggle several projects, people and problems simultaneously. This
means it’s essential to be organized for right now and prepared for what’s coming next. It’s like spinning plates—a little practice and the whole thing balances.
Network admins work with a range of people, from network engineers to help desk employees to end users, explains Eric Jeffery, founder of IT solutions firm Gungon Consulting. He says bridging the gap between diverse groups of people requires patience and understanding.
The technology field is constantly changing, which means network admins must be willing to learn and evolve with it. Good network admins are able to adapt to new techniques and technologies throughout their careers.
Where do network administrators work?
If you’re considering a career as a network admin, don’t feel like you have to box yourself into a particular industry—network administrators are in demand in many business sectors. We used real-time job analysis software from Burning-Glass.com to examine more than 135,000 network admin jobs posted over than past year.
Based on the data, here are the top industries hiring network administrators over the last year:
As you can see, earning a degree in network administration means you won’t be tied down to working in one industry your entire career. There are a variety of fields in need of these professionals so if you ever get bored in one area, you can always dabble in another.
What is a typical day like for a network administrator?
As seen in the job duties above, a network admin has a broad job description: managing an entire network, preventing and fixing network problems and supporting a number of teams and individuals. This means there’s hardly a “typical day” in the life of a network admin.
“No two days are ever the same,” Meyer says. He says a “normal day” might include checking logs, auditing processes, putting out fires that arise from your end users and working on projects. Projects could include creating new programs to make the network more efficient or researching technology and brainstorming creative solutions for the organization’s network needs.
Taking the next step
The next time someone asks you, “What does a network administrator do?” you can confidently answer that they do a lot of things! Network admins are constantly analyzing, monitoring and creatively solving problems, while looking for ways to improve in an always-changing field.
Now that you had a sneak peek into the life of a network administrator, does it sound like a good fit for you? Learn how you can launch your career as a network admin in as little as 18 months!
* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition. Network and Computer Systems Administrators
** National Center for O*NET Development. 15-1142.00. O*NET OnLine.
*** Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 135,650 network administrator job postings, Aug. 15 2013 – Aug. 14, 2014)
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