How to Become a Network Administrator
A network administrator oversees a range of IT functions within a business or organization. They have high computer literacy, are skilled problem solvers, and also good at working with different kinds of people. If you enjoy computers, and would like to spend your career working with all kinds of systems, then a career as a network administrator might be ideal for you.
If you're looking for a role in IT, working as a network administrator is an excellent choice. You'll enjoy plenty of job opportunity once qualified, and be employed in a sector with faster growth than average.
Education Requirements to Become a Network Administrator
If you're in high school, it's a good idea to take as many computer and technology subjects as possible. Math and science are also helpful at this point. If your school has a computer club or something similar, you might like to join to earn some additional experience. A part-time job in a computer or electronics store would also be valuable.
The minimum educational requirement to become a network administrator is a four year bachelor degree with a major in computer science, or a similar field. You can complete a 2 year network administration program at community college, but this may only leave you eligible for a job on a help desk rather than a full network administrator's position.
Completing internships while at college will definitely help you to gain experience, but more importantly, make your resume stand out from the crowd when you are looking for a job. While not essential, many network administrators go on to attain masters degrees in computer science or networking. This can help you to get the top jobs in large companies.
Some individual companies like Microsoft and Cisco offer certification programs for network administrators. Attaining these certifications can be a real benefit when looking for a job.
A good resource is DICE, which features job listings for network administrators. Even if you are still studying, it is good to know what kind of jobs are around and the skills required.
Network Administrator Job Description
A network administrator oversees the IT needs of a large company or organization. This includes the installation and maintenance of LANs, or local area networks, WANs, or wide area networks. They also install and maintain hardware and software, servers, maintain network security, and troubleshoot any problems that may occur. Here are some of the duties of a network administrator:
- Install PCs
- Configure and maintain PCs
- Maintain area networks
- Maintain network security
- Determine individual access levels
- Provide staff training
- Maintain servers
- Provide adequate backup systems
- Troubleshoot user problems
- Maintain other devices like printers and photocopiers
To become a network administrator you will need to be comfortable in working in a highly technical role. As computer technology is always changing and moving forward, you will need to spend time keeping up with these changes. When things go wrong with computers, some people can become very stressed. For this reason you will need to be ready to work in a high stress environment form time to time.
Network administrators generally work a 40 hour work week, but there may be times when you are required to work additional hours. When new systems are being put in place, when a crash occurs, or there is simply too much work to do, you may need to work overtime.
Network Administrator Salary and Career Path
Most network administrators will get a role as an assistant, providing support to a more experience network administrator. Others get their start working in a help desk position, or similar. With a few years experience, you could expect to be working as a full network administrator.
The median salary for a network administrator is $66,000. Those just starting out in an entry level network administration role could expect to earn closer to $50,000 a year. The top 10% in this sector earn over $110,000.
Some network administrators move on to become systems engineers, move into management roles, or go on to develop systems and software themselves.
For those that are looking for a role in IT, working to beocme a network administrator is an excellent career choice. Employment prospects are strong, and the salary available can be lucrative. There is a lot of opportunity for advancement and further training as a part of this career. While stressful at times, this role is one that many in the field find rewarding.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics