Most businesses today rely on an intricate network of computers and other technological devices to accomplish their daily operations. Network administrators are information systems professionals who design, build and maintain computer networks for businesses. Understanding how to become a network administrator can help you begin a successful career working in the technology field. In this article, we define what a network administrator is, explore what they do and explain the steps you can follow to become a network administrator.
What is a network administrator?
A network administrator manages a network of computers and related technology for a business. They ensure that computers, tablets and devices connected to the internet function correctly and that the network runs smoothly. They also oversee the security of the network. Network administrators use their expertise to build networks and ensure that a company's computers can communicate with each other. This helps other team members perform their duties quickly and efficiently.
What does a network administrator do?
To maintain a computer network, a network administrator must accomplish a variety of daily tasks. Most of these tasks involve inspecting, diagnosing or repairing technological issues with the network. Some common tasks network administrators perform include:
- Installing computer software and hardware
- Ordering hardware, software and equipment, such as firewalls and servers
- Configuring a network that connects all the company's computers and technology
- Monitoring the network for any issues
- Identifying and repairing connectivity issues
- Optimizing the network's connection speed
- Installing and running antivirus and computer diagnostics software
- Creating safety protocols for user access
- Regulating user access to sensitive files
- Training employees on how to use the technology
How to become a network administrator
Becoming a network administrator typically involves a combination of education and experience. While you can modify the details specific to your chosen career path, there are some common steps many network administrators take to begin their careers:
1. Choose your focus
As a network administrator, there are several areas of technology you can choose to focus on. Some of your options include:
- System security
- Systems analysis
- Data analysis
- Software development
Focusing on one of these areas can help you become a skilled network administrator and improve your resume by showing you have expertise in a specialty. Choosing a specialty to focus on can also affect some of your decisions as you begin your career, such as which courses you take or which types of internships you apply for. While selecting a focus isn't a necessity, it can help guide you throughout your career.
2. Earn a bachelor's degree
Some employers set an associate degree as the minimum education requirement to become a network administrator. However, most employers prefer candidates to have a bachelor's degree in network administration or a related field. You may also explore other information systems and technology degrees that align with the specialty you want to focus on. For example, you can major in systems analysis if you plan to make it your career focus. Common majors for network administrators include:
- Network administration
- Software engineering
- Computer science
- Network management
- Information technology
3. Complete an internship
Internships are a good way to gain relevant experience for your career. By completing an internship, you can learn more about information systems and technology while you work. Interning while you attend school can also help you strengthen the experience section of your resume, which can help you apply for jobs after you graduate. Some internships can even turn into long-term employment opportunities.
During your internship, it's helpful to ask questions about the job and how to perform specific duties so that you can learn from your colleagues. This can help you improve the skills you need for success in the workplace.
4. Gain on-the-job training
It's possible to get hired as a network administrator without prior experience. However, most employers prefer you to have experience working in the technology field. Obtaining an entry-level job in an IT department can give you the experience many employers expect. It also gives you an opportunity to learn more about your career from your colleagues.
While working in an entry-level position, consider asking your supervisor to let you lead a project. This can provide you with leadership experience that you can add to your resume. It can also show your supervisors you have ambition, which may improve your chances of receiving a promotion.
5. Build a network
Building a network of information systems professionals can help you learn new skills and tips about your career. Professionals in your network can also help you find employment opportunities and offer you advice when applying for jobs. Search online for networking groups focused on information technology or professional development to build your network. It's also possible to find a mentor in your network. This can provide you the opportunity to learn directly from an experienced information systems professional. Building a relationship with a mentor offers many benefits, including:
- Helping you review your work and identify areas of improvement
- Using their network to find more employment opportunities
- Helping you get interviews with their colleagues
- Offering advice and feedback when you have career questions
Salary and job outlook for network administrators
According to Indeed Salaries, network administrators earn an average of $69,240 per year in the United States. However, this amount may vary depending on an individual's experience, education and location. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects network administrator jobs to increase by 4% between 2019 and 2029. This aligns with the average predicted growth rate for most jobs.
Skills for network administrators
Network administration requires a wide variety of skills and technological capabilities. Some of the most helpful skills for network administrators include:
- Knowledge of multiple coding languages
- Critical thinking
- Analytical skills
- Knowledge of networks and servers
- Ability to maintain and repair networks and servers
- Attention to detail
- Knowledge of computer systems
- Familiarity with networking and diagnostic software
- Experience with multiple types of networks
Work environment for network administrators
Network administrators typically work in an office environment. However, you can find employment as a network administrator in many types of facilities and industries. Some common work environments for network administrators include:
It is not surprising that many kinds of technology careers nowadays are very in-demand in almost every industry. That’s why people are spending money studying technical skills to land a job that pays well in exchange for their expertise. But don’t take it the wrong way, though. Being a computer expert isn’t rainbows and rays of sunshine. You would probably get a lot of “WTF” moments during network failures and system downtimes. And worse.
A network administrator is just one of the many branches of technology. Network administrators manage troubleshooting procedures, requiring them to have both excellencies in technical skills and customer service. Most companies that need network administrators prefer to hire someone with prior experience, as this job has a lot of responsibility. Though they are usually working within regular business hours, a network administrator does not normally slouch until the end of the shift.
You thought scientists are the people who do experiments? You should see what a network administrator’s day looks like. They actually search for the best methods to improve the network’s condition and prevent system delays. If you’re a frustrated scientist who always loved experiments, why don’t you try your luck as a network administrator? Who knows, right?
What Does a Network Administrator Do
Computer networks are critical parts of almost every organization. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of these networks. They organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.
How To Become a Network Administrator
Most employers require network and computer systems administrators to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science. Others may require only a postsecondary certificate.
Although some employers require only a postsecondary certificate, most require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science. There are degree programs that focus on computer network and system administration. However, because administrators work with computer hardware and equipment, a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering usually is acceptable as well. Programs in these fields usually include classes in computer programming, networking, or systems design.
Because network technology is continually changing, administrators need to keep up with the latest developments. Many continue to take courses throughout their careers and attend information technology (IT) conferences to keep up with the latest technology. Some businesses require that an administrator get a master’s degree.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Certification programs are generally offered directly from vendors or from vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates knowledge and best practices required from network and computer systems administrators. Companies may require their network and computer systems administrators to be certified in the product they use. Microsoft and Cisco offer some of the most common certifications.
To gain practical experience, many network administrators participate in internship programs while in school.
Network administrators can advance to become computer network architects. They can also advance to managerial jobs in information technology (IT) departments, such as computer and information systems managers.
Analytical skills. Administrators need analytical skills to evaluate network and system performance and determine how changes in the environment will affect them.
Communication skills. Administrators must be able to describe problems and their solutions to non-IT workers.
Computer skills. Administrators oversee the connections of many different types of computer equipment and must ensure that they all work together properly.
Multitasking skills. Administrators may have to work on many problems and tasks at the same time.
Problem-solving skills. Administrators must be able to quickly resolve any problems that arise with computer networks.
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Computers are at the heart of all businesses and even some homes today. As machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and advanced analytics evolve, computer networking is also changing. Network administrators are responsible for installing, organizing, and supporting the computer systems of an organization.
Their role could also include working on wide area networks, local area networks, intranets, and network segments. There are a lot of benefits that come from working in this field. If you are wondering how to become a network administrator, this guide can help.
Before pursuing a career in this field, you need to know what it takes to become a network administrator, how long it takes to qualify as one, and how much you can be paid. We have compiled some important resources in this guide.
First, here are some positive aspects of this field:
- Median pay is $84,810 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Employment in the field is forecast to grow four percent from 2019 to 2029.
- As a network administrator, you can choose to work remotely.
- You can work as a freelancer, freeing up your time for other matters.
What Is a Network Administrator?
A network administrator is an important member of the IT workforce. These experts are responsible for the daily upkeep of the company’s computer and network system. Network administrators fix problems as they arise during daily usage. They handle long-term projects like managing telecommunications networks or data backup.
Network administrators ensure that an organization’s computer network operates as intended. Companies with different software platforms or computers need network administrators to ensure that the systems are coordinated and connected. It is often confused with systems administrators which is not the same.
What is the difference between both? The work environment is the main difference. In some small organizations, both terms are interchangeable and may even cover the same tasks. However, in large organizations, the roles are clearly different.
What Do Network Administrators Do?
The full role of a network administrator is decided by the organization. However, the general roles include setting up hardware and troubleshooting servers. It could also include tasks such as training new staff on how to handle software or hardware.
Network administrators update the system whenever necessary. Pursuant to that, it is their responsibility to inform the staff about the new program and its components.
Network security administrators make sure unauthorized people do not get access to company networks. They protect data and maintain functional computer systems by setting up firewalls and anti-virus software.
Working as a network security administrator, you will set passwords to restrict users and protect servers. You will assess the security needs of the companies you work for and design efficient security systems. Setting up and installing necessary applications will be your job as well.
You will often be asked to train employees on the correct use of security systems, too. You will create the service policy for the systems you set up, establish best practices, and be there to troubleshoot arising issues.
There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a network security administrator. For example, did you know that they make an average of $35.97 an hour? That’s $74,808 a year!
Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 5% and produce 18,200 job opportunities across the U.S.
What Does a Network Security Administrator Do
There are certain skills that many network security administrators have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed communication skills, analytical skills and problem-solving skills.
How To Become a Network Security Administrator
If you’re interested in becoming a network security administrator, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We’ve determined that 61.7% of network security administrators have a bachelor’s degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 9.1% of network security administrators have master’s degrees. Even though most network security administrators have a college degree, it’s possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.
Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a network security administrator. When we researched the most common majors for a network security administrator, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor’s degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on network security administrator resumes include master’s degree degrees or high school diploma degrees.
You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a network security administrator. In fact, many network security administrator jobs require experience in a role such as network administrator. Meanwhile, many network security administrators also have previous career experience in roles such as network engineer or network technician.
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Network administrators design, manage, and maintain technological networks. They work within organizations and government agencies to oversee local area networks, wide area networks, network segments, and other data communication systems as needed.
Network administrators provide support and oversight alike, working closely with colleagues to explain how to use data storage and communication networks and ensure efficiency. Often part of a larger, computer-related operational staff, network administrators may supervise computer support and computer systems specialists.
What Does a Network Administrator Do?
Companies and organizations using more than one computer to carry out necessary functions usually employ network administrators. Network administrators make sure computer software and operating systems work properly and stay updated. These professionals oversee the information technology within an organization, serving as the go-to people for major computer or technical issues.
Network administrators may hold specialized certifications or bachelor’s or graduate degrees. Professionals in this field earn a generous median annual salary of $82,050, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that they will experience a steady 5% job growth rate in the coming years.
Key Hard Skills
Network administrators acquire hard skills through educational programs and practical experience. With knowledge of network types and functions, these professionals build competencies in programming languages, software and hardware management, and network security. These essential skills allow network administrators to carry out best practices as reliable professionals.
- Local Area Network: Local area networks (LAN) connect computers within limited areas, such as rooms, buildings, or collections of buildings. LANs serve anywhere from two to hundreds of users, allowing for connection, communication, and collaboration. Network administrators understand and implement LAN software and hardware requirements while maintaining and updating their functions.
- Wide Area Network: A wide area network, or WAN, covers a large geographic radius, connecting computers for private telecommunications. WANs incorporate LANs, often bringing together groups in distant cities, states, or countries. Network administrators supervise the installation and maintenance of WANs from a designated central location or by visiting remote locations.
- Virtual Private Network: A virtual private network, or VPN, uses public networks to carry out private communication, data sharing, and related activities. Network administrators install and oversee VPNs. Most often employed over the internet, VPNs encrypt connections to ensure safe transmission of electronic information. VPNs also restrict outside access, allowing only authorized users to work remotely without interference.
- Cisco Networking: Cisco, the company responsible for creating and manufacturing a great deal of networking hardware, offers certifications for network administrators. Most network administrators work with Cisco products and systems on a daily basis. For this reason, network administrators should understand these systems, their functions, and how to maintain and troubleshoot them.
- Microsoft Active Directory: Companies that utilize Microsoft operating systems make use of an Active Directory, which creates and maintains various security policies for the entire computer network. Network administrators use this directory to authenticate users and allow employees different levels of system access.
Key Soft Skills
Soft skills, which do not necessarily come from formal training but still prove essential to personal and professional success, include patience, time management, communication, and detail orientation. Network administrators must know how to prioritize, analyze, and assess individual and institutional needs, expressing their ideas in written and verbal form.
- Teamwork: Teamwork requires adaptation, open-mindedness, and task orientation. Network administrators collaborate fellow technology professionals and other colleagues to identify a common need and work toward it together. As part of a team, network administrators need interpersonal skills to listen and be receptive to ideas and suggestions.
- Communication: Verbal and written communication skills are essential for network administrators. As individuals who install and oversee complex technological networks, network administrators must explain concepts and use to others. Network administrators need to be clear, concise, and respectful as they interact with peers and colleagues.
- Critical Thinking: Critical thinking involves analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of evidence with an open mind. It also enables individuals to explain topics and issues objectively. By thinking through problems, concerns, and suggestions critically, network administrators solve problems and make rational, well-informed decisions.
- System Administration: Network administrators must understand the nuances of all kinds of software and operating systems to troubleshoot and maintain the systems used within an organization. System administration entails managing these software systems and making sure various systems, software, hardware, and other technologies work efficiently and remain current.
- Network Support: Networks within a business or organization generally include internet- and web-based operating systems, and network administrators make sure that these systems work properly. Network support involves helping users troubleshoot connectivity issues and assist in setup processes.
Network administrators employ both soft and hard skills as they carry out daily tasks and responsibilities. Effective communication allows network administrators to exchange ideas with colleagues, assessing overall technological needs. Network administrators also train users in hardware and software, communicating complex ideas in clear, concise ways.
Network administrators install, oversee, upgrade, and troubleshoot network hardware and software. They implement techniques to optimize network performance, provide access to new users, and monitor security and safety of a network, as well.
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As new technologies continue to advance by leaps and bounds with each coming year, expert professionals that can help organizations make use of the best solutions to suit their needs are expected to remain in steady, high demand. Particularly with the advent of cloud computing, a sophisticated understanding of data networking has never been more essential for anyone tasked with building a business’ information systems. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that all “computer occupations”, which include various positions in IT and computer science, to grow by 18% by 2022, well over the national average for growth in all industries.
Network Administrator Career Outlook
One of those professions expected to continue upward growth is that of the network administrator. The field is estimated to expand by 12% over the next 8 years. However, for those pursuing network administration jobs in some industries (like computer systems design, for example) might see an expansion of 35%. Healthcare industries, as a result of mandates requiring that all patient records be digitized, are also expected to need greater attention to their data storage and information systems.
What do Network Administrators Do?
So what do network administrators do? The functions they perform are essential to any organization’s infrastructure. Their task is to understand the needs of a business in terms of data storage, bandwidth, and processing, then convert that into a practical solution using technology that matches those demands. Using the appropriate amount and type of servers (both cloud-based and not), the network administrator creates local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets for use by their employer. They ensure that their co-workers are able to communicate with one another, access essential information, and utilize company resources to complete their tasks effectively.
But the largest, ongoing task that falls on the network administrator’s shoulders is the day-to-day maintenance of the company’s infrastructure. This involves monitoring the security of any server-side interactions, upgrading both hardware and software, evaluating the performance of existing systems, and training users in the use of company equipment. They also make sure that desktop and laptop machines offered by the company are functioning well and not holding back employee efficiency.
How to Become a Network Administrator
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Information Technology, or Computer Engineering.
Pursuing an entry-level network administrator position typically requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT, or computer engineering. That said, initial education is only one part of the knowledge that competent administrator’s need to possess. With network technologies (particularly in the area of data storage) evolving rapidly, it’s absolutely essential that any aspiring networking professional stay up-to-date on the latest advances in the field – including new tools and how to use them.
2. Get Certified and Stay Competitive.
Those interested in establishing a reputation for professional competence and earning a valuable credential can pursue certification through a number of private organizations. Software companies like Microsoft and Cisco offer training and examination processes to help network administrators become certified and distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace.
3. Earn your Master’s in Information Technology.
Additionally, a master’s in IT or computer science can also offer those looking to advance towards positions as computer network architects and information systems managers detailed insight into the industry and the chance to further develop their skills.
If you’re looking to become a leader in IT, explore the online Master of Science in Information Technology.
Network Administration professional designated as Network Administrator or Computer Network Administrator is responsible for the maintenance of computer hardware and software in a computer network system. His job profile includes the responsibility of smooth transferring of the information and data by building and maintaining reliable lines of communication in the network system for their clients.
With the advancement of technology there are expected vast expansions and up gradation of the computer network in the near future necessitating increased demand for Network and Computer Systems Administrators in the near future.
As computer systems have become an integral part every day working with most of the organizations and most of the information/data have been digitalized thereby creating a need for efficient transferring of data, connectivity is sometimes that can be the buzzword for sharing information quickly and efficiently Thus it becomes the responsibility of Network administrator to ensure the security, reliability, and running of the network effectively.
To handle this work efficiently Network administrators require extensive experience and knowledge of networking software that can be obtained by getting the relevant formal qualification.
Network Administrator Eligibility
A Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science, or a related information technology field. or/and Certification and practical experience
Although acquiring certification is the best way to acquire enough knowledge to get a Network administrator’s job. But to reach on top of the ladder of hierarchy formal Bachelor’s degree and above are the right qualifications.
Minimum age to work in any of the organized IT sector is 18 years whereas Maximum age can vary in the rage of 25 to 40 years depending upon the expertise in the field.
Network Administrator Required Skills
- Network Administrators should have patience, interpersonal skills, enthusiasm, team working skills, initiative, and commitment to quality and results-driven.
- They should have the skills to maintain existing software and hardware.
- They should be known of establishing a network by evaluating network performance issues including availability, utilization, throughput, and latency.
- They could be able to plan and execute the selection, installation, configuration and testing of equipment; defining network policies and procedures; establishing connections and firewalls.
How to become a Network Administrator?
To become a Network Administrator the candidates have to follow the given steps:
After passing +2 class with Mathematics and physics as the main subjects the aspiring candidate has to apply for the degree or diploma course in computer science, information science, or some related information technology field. This is being offered by many private and Government engineering institutes.
However, some reputed institutes like Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi Engineering College and all the IIIT’s with limited seats may admit candidates on the basis of their performance in entrance tests like CET, Joint Entrance Exam. etc.
Besides this interested candidates in this field without a formal degree can go for Network Administrator Certifications.
After completion of Graduation/Certification and acquiring the knowledge of Networking software and skills to handle complex LAN and WAN networks aspiring professionals can applying in the organization using LAN and WAN network system like Banks, Financial Institutions, Share Brokering first to name a few.
Network Administrator Job Description
Network administrators are also responsible for the development, configuration, monitoring and maintenance of network equipment as per the requirement of their clients. To do this he should be trained to build lines, nodes, and switches, LAN’s (local area networks) as well as WAN’s (wide area networks) among various workstations using fibre/optical cables and wireless technology thereby enabling the users to access and share information with one another quickly and in a secure manner.
Network Administrator Career Prospects
Wide expansion of the IT industry, internet services and E-commerce services have widely increased the demand for Network administrators in the last couple of decades and the trend is supposed to be continuing for next decade or so. Thus there is a good chance of getting good for those who have a graduate degree in computer science or any of the related. Those who are certified professionals and have some sort of related work experience will also have a good chance in near future.
Network Administrator Salary
Network Administrators with the good organization are drawing a good salary to the tune of Rs.35,000 to Rs.40,000 per month. With some experience and advanced certification, these professionals working in big organizations can get anything near Rs.60,000+ as their monthly pay.
In international markets along with MNC average yearly Salaries of Network, administrators are nearly $70,000 per year.
Other related fields within computer networking are:
- Network Engineer:- Responsible for upgrades, testing and product evaluation in a Network system.
- Network Technician:- These professionals focus on the set-up, troubleshooting and repair of equipment and software.
- Network Programmer:- Responsible for writing programs that aid in network analysis.
- Network Information Systems Managers are responsible for supervising the work of all the other technical professionals along with doing long-term planning and strategizing.
Difference between Network Administrator and Network Engineer
As a remote network administrator, you work from home to implement and maintain a company’s computer network, which connects workstations to database and file servers, printers, and other IT resources. Your duties and responsibilities include handling necessary upgrades and repairs, troubleshooting connectivity errors between host and client computers, ensuring system security, and providing end-user training and support. You document the network configuration and record any changes you make, plan for necessary expansions and maintenance, and perform research to improve infrastructure stability and efficiency. You must maintain your knowledge of current network hardware, including servers, switches, and routers, as well as applicable protocols and standards.
How to Become a Remote Network Administrator
To become a remote network administrator, you need to meet technical qualifications, including a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field. It’s highly recommended to develop your skills via specialized training and certification programs by earning credentials through Cisco, CompTIA, Juniper Networks, or Microsoft. You need excellent analytical and problem-solving skills as well as the ability to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds. Good writing, listening, and speaking skills are also an asset, and you must be self-motivated and able to work independently. You also need a reliable computer setup to work from home.
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