Network administrators are responsible for the management and maintenance of both the software and hardware infrastructure of a computer network system such as a LAN (local area network) or a WAN (wide area network). Networks may be as simple as a few peer-to-peer connections between user workstations or may encompass hundreds or even thousands of computers centrally managed through the use of server technology.
In 2008, there were almost half a million jobs in the United States involving network or systems administration. The employment outlook for network administrators remains positive as businesses and governments continue to expand their use of computer-based technology. Enhanced certification and education is highly respected by employers and commands higher salaries. Check out the programs below to get free information:
Network Administrator Job Responsibilities
Because a network administrator is responsible for all software used on the network, he or she installs operating systems and updates them as needed to keep systems functioning efficiently. Network administrators also install end-user software, such as word processing or database applications. On large networks, administrators often use installation packages so that such software can be deployed remotely from a central server to many workstations at once.
Network administrators work with hardware such as switches and routers to expand or reconfigure the network as needed and are responsible for designing networks so that both wiring and internal software connections are consistently named and managed. Network administrators identify security concerns and provide solutions to keep both the network and individual workstations free of malicious code.
A network administrator maintains a detailed inventory of all equipment used on the network and documents the existence of proper licenses for all software. Network administrators are responsible for keeping enough spare parts on hand that malfunctioning components can be swapped out in a manner that minimizes employee time lost.
Network administrators recommend programs and upgrades and advise management on which new technologies should be implemented on any given network. They also oversee all connections between a computer network and outside technology such as the internet. They may be responsible for maintaining an organization’s web site and for implementing internet-based tools and technologies that can enhance productivity and streamline the collection of data about both workstations and network utilization.
Network Administrator Training and Education Requirement
The minimum education required for a typical entry-level position in network administration is possession of a two-year college degree in a field related to computer hardware, software, or information systems. An A.S. (Associate’s of Science) degree is generally more highly regarded than an A.A. (Associate’s of Arts) because an A.S. candidate will have taken many more science and engineering courses.
To advance in the field of network administration, a four-year college degree is recommended. Again, a B.S. opens more job opportunities than does a B.A. Majors such as computer engineering, software development, or network information systems are all regarded highly by employers seeking to fill network administrator positions.
Highly compensated positions often require advanced training in the field. This can include a Master’s degree in computer science or a related field, or may take the form of technology-specific certifications from companies such as Microsoft or Cisco, who provide certificates of competence based on rigorous examinations. The most commonly required certifications for network administrators include CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer), and MCSA (Microsoft Certified System Administrator).
Network Administrator Salary and Wages
The average annual salary for a network administrator during the first decade of the new millennium was $85,000. Starting salaries currently begin at $45,000; compensation for network administrators with substantial experience and advanced training in specialty fields ranges as high as $140,000 per year. These figures frequently reflect a work week well in excess of 40 hours since network administration is almost always a salaried position rather than one compensated on an hourly basis.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Total compensation packages are higher than the figures stated. As salaried employees, network administrators typically enjoy benefits such as sick leave and vacation days, as well as medical insurance and retirement packages.
Network Administrator Certifications
Industry accepted certifications are available from the companies that produce hardware and software commonly used in networks. Microsoft certifications include MCSA (Microsoft Certified System Administrator), MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer), and MCITP (Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional). Novell offers CNA (Certified Novell Administrator) and CNE (Certified Novell Engineer) authorizations. Linux, Sun Microsystems, and CompTIA also offer their own certification programs to verify that individuals are competent to administer networks using their hardware and software.
Such certifications are generally earned by examination. Candidates who have professional experience with the systems involved can pass these tests based on their working knowledge. For those who lack such experience, training courses are available that are targeted at helping candidates develop mastery of the particular skill sets needed for any given examination.
Network Administrator Professional Associations
LOPSA, the League of Professional Systems Administrators, is a non-profit corporation offering continuing education in network administration issues. With members throughout the world, LOPSA strives to educate the public about concerns in information technology.