Network or computer systems administrators work specifically on the design, installation, and support of a company or organization’s LAN (local-area network), WAN (wide-area network), network segment, Internet, or intranet system. They are responsible for ensuring an organization’s networks are used efficiently. They provide day-to-day administrative support, monitor systems and make adjustments as necessary, and trouble-shoot problems reported by users and automated monitoring systems. They also gather data regarding customer needs, and then evaluate their systems based on those needs. In addition, they may also be involved in the planning and implementation of network security systems.
Systems administrators should be interested in helping others. They need to have good problem-solving and analytical skills, and they need to be able to communicate efficiently and effectively via email, in writing, or even face-to-face. Well-developed writing skills can prove valuable in preparing manuals for employees or customers.
In 2002, network and computer systems administrators earned a median annual salary of $39,100. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $23,060, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $67,550. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of systems administrators:
- Wired telecommunications carriers – $59,710
- Computer systems design and related services – 58,790
- Management of companies and enterprises – 58,610
- Data processing, hosting, and related services – 56,140
- Elementary and secondary schools – 48,350
Training and Education
Network and computer systems administrators enter the occupation from many different angles. Many employers prefer candidates with formal college education, such as a bachelor’s degree, although not necessarily a computer-related degree. However, a large number of companies are loosening these restrictions due to the extraordinarily high demand for these types of positions. For those candidates without a college degree, practical experience or certification will be essential. A variety of certification programs offered by vendors and product makers may help some candidates qualify for entry-level positions. In some cases, candidates with relevant, real-world experience may bypass formal education and certification requirements.
In 2002, network and computer systems administrators held about 251,000 jobs. 35%, the largest percentage, were employed in professional and business services industries, mostly in computer systems design and related services. Others worked in bands, government agencies, insurance companies, educational institutions, and wholesale and retail vendors of computers, office equipment, appliances, and home electronic equipment.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of network and computer systems administrators is expected to increase much faster than the average. Companies and other organizations will continue to adopt and integrate new computer-driven technologies, making the computer system design and related services industry one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. economy. The increased need for technical assistance will stem from the increasing complexity of computers and software, while mobility technologies like wireless Internet will also add to this demand. Explosive growth in electronic commerce will fuel a strong, specific demand for employees knowledgeable about network, data, and communications security.
Pleaes visit our section on Network Administration Training for more information on becoming a network and computer systems administrator