Network systems administrators ensure network availability to all users of a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN). They install, configure, support and monitor an organization’s network, test website performance, and perform needed upgrades and maintenance. These information technology (IT) professionals may work for manufacturing companies, colleges and universities, healthcare providers and IT service firms.
Network system administrators plan for disaster recovery and other backup contingencies, and diagnose and troubleshoot hardware, software and other network problems. In addition, they may assist with coordinating between network and data communications systems, as well as with network security operations.
Additional job duties can include:
- Configuring and maintaining email applications
- Installing and networking software
- Designing, configuring and testing computer hardware
- Providing support services for systems maintenance
- Participating in purchasing decisions for computer hardware and software
Job Outlook and Salary Range for Network Systems Administrators
In 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that jobs for network systems administrators are projected to grow by 28% nationwide through 2020, which is twice the average rate (14%) for all occupations. Demand is expected to increase as companies continue to invest in mobile networks, and new and faster technologies. Increased information security concerns and a growing need for IT in the healthcare industry should also improve job prospects for network systems administrators.
According to a BLS survey, the nation’s more than 341,000 network and computer systems administrators earned a median annual wage of $70,970 in 2011, an increase of almost $2,000 over the previous year. The top 10% earned in excess of $112,210 in 2011.
Salary potential and job opportunities are affected by a candidate’s education and work experience, as well as by regional market conditions.
Education and Training for Network Systems Administrators
Most employers require a bachelor’s degree for network systems administrator positions, according to the BLS. Degrees in computer science or information science are most common, although some employers may accept candidates who majored in computer engineering or electrical engineering.
An associate’s degree combined with work experience may also be acceptable for some employers.
Network systems administrators generally are adept at problem solving and juggling numerous tasks, and also should have strong communication and analytical skills.
Entry-level job titles include network support technician and network systems assistant. Positions such as information technology manager or senior systems administrator may be attainable with experience and advanced educational qualifications.
Professional certifications, such as those offered by Microsoft and Cisco, may be required for employment or advancement. Certain employers may also require Department of Defense clearances.
Military Occupational Specializations
A variety of military occupational roles share some of the duties and skills common to a civilian career as a network systems administrator:
- In the Air Force, roles include network intelligence analyst specialist and scientific applications specialist.
- Army roles include information technology specialist.
- In the Marine Corps, roles include data network specialist, information assurance technician and tactical network specialist.
- Navy roles include computer science jobs.