How to Become a Network Administrator

Network administration is a quickly growing field that offers a large amount of mobility within the IT sector. Network administrators can look forward to high rates of pay, opportunities for advancement and job stability regardless of future economic conditions.

What is a Network Administrator?

Bachelor's Degree
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

A network administrator is often responsible for the creation, management and modification of a computer network. Network administrators may work on a contract basis with private enterprises or on government contracts for the military. Network administrators often work in groups under the guidance of a network architect. Administrators work with routers and switches to develop a comprehensive system that connects computers and other essential devices in a way that is efficient, fast and secure.

Most network administrators will have some form of degree, but this isn’t always necessary. The field is closely connected with systems administration, but there are significant differences in day-to-day tasks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that this position has a projected growth rate of 28 percent from 2010 to 2020 and that the median pay for the position is $69,160 per year.

What Does a Network Administrator Do?

When creating a network system, a network administrator will often run cabling, test lines and ensure that all company devices are appropriately connected to the network. These devices can include computers, printers and telephone lines. Voice-over-IP telephone systems are often included in the development of a computer network.

The maintenance of a network usually requires that a network administrator perform daily troubleshooting when issues arise. These issues can involve the entire system going down or components of the system being slow. Network administrators may need to reconfigure or upgrade routers and switches as necessary to preserve system stability and efficiency. Network administrators will be responsible for local area networks, wide area networks, intranets, network segments and other communication systems used by the company.

How Do You Become a Network Administrator?

Some network administrators are self-trained professionals with certifications relevant to the position. Cisco Certified Network Associate and Cisco Certified Network Professional certifications are among the qualifications that are often seen by administrators. Other common certifications are offered through CompTIA, Microsoft and Red Hat.

Many network administrators will hold either an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree in computer science, information technology or network administration. This is not strictly necessary, and many positions within this field will accept experience as a replacement for formal education. On the job training is available to those that do not have prior experience.

Entry-level positions for network administration are available primarily in major metropolitan areas and areas with a large government or military presence. Those interested within the field need to have strong computer skills, good communication skills and the ability to think logically and solve problems. Network administration often demands complex solutions and analysis.

How Do You Advance as a Network Administrator?

A network administrator that wishes to advance in responsibilities and rate of pay will often become a network architect. Network architects lead teams of administrators in the construction of complex network systems. The average rate of pay for a computer network architect is $91,000, according to O*Net Online.

Network administrators can also move into the systems administration field, which has similar requirements but different job responsibilities. Systems administrators usually work within a company to troubleshoot issues with computer systems, printers and other devices. They will sometimes work on conjunction with a network administrator and they will sometimes take on the duties of a network administrator on their own. Network administrators can usually move into the field of systems administration more easily than systems administrators can move into network administration.

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