If you are considering a career in network administration, you are making a sound decision. Network administrators are in high demand these days, as more and more businesses rely on networks to keep their operations running smoothly. But what does a network administrator do? What kind of training and education is required? And what kind of career path can you expect to follow once you become a network administrator? In this blog post, we will answer these questions and more. So if you are interested in learning more about becoming a network administrator, read on!
Table of Contents
1. What is a Network Administrator?
A network administrator is a person who manages the computer networks in an organization. Network administrators are responsible for maintaining and managing the hardware (e.g., switches, routers, cabling) and software (i.e., OSs, security systems, databases). The complexity of networks varies from simple LANs to complex service-provider infrastructures comprising LANs, MANs, and WANs.
Network administrators are responsible for ensuring the network runs smoothly, efficiently, and securely. The focus of a network administrator can be described as assessing business needs to provide technologies that meet those needs. Network administrators may also install and configure computer networks or other hardware.
The network administrator will also be responsible for the following functions: troubleshooting, monitoring, upgrading hardware/software, security management, disaster recovery planning, and support. The tasks involved in being a network administrator are becoming increasingly complex with the additional demands of mobile devices and cloud services.
Network administrators may work for Internet service providers (ISPs), data communication systems, government agencies, and private enterprises.
2. How to Become a Network Administrator?
To become a network administrator, you will need to understand computer systems and networking concepts, and you will also need hands-on experience installing, configuring, and troubleshooting computer networks. Most network administrators have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.
Certifications such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) are also beneficial. Many network administrator positions require certification, and employers often provide certification training programs to their employees.
It is also essential to have strong problem-solving skills and work independently. As technology changes, so do the demands of the job. Therefore, it is essential to stay up-to-date with technological trends and developments.
Once you become a network administrator, your options are wide open. Most entry-level positions will involve installing and configuring computer networks and other hardware. You may also spend time setting up the operating systems (e.g., Windows, Linux) on all of the computers in an office or business. More experienced network administrators will be responsible for managing the entire computer network, overseeing upgrades, and offering technical support to employees.
There are perks to being a network administrator. Many positions involve working in an office, which means you will have regular hours and the ability to work independently. Some positions offer on-the-job training, so if you are new to the world of networking, you may have an opportunity to learn from a senior administrator.
3. Work Environment
Most network administrators work in office environments during regular business hours, and they may occasionally need to stay after hours to fix problems or complete essential tasks. Network administrators may have opportunities to work from remote locations. Technology has made this option more common, especially if you are responsible for managing networks that span several different locations.
The work environment of a network administrator will vary depending on the size of your organization or business. Some network administrators must travel to different locations to fix problems or meet with clients/employees, and others may only need to visit one company’s office regularly.
The average salary of a network administrator is $64,738 per year. The actual amount you earn will depend on your level of education and the type of organization/business you work for. Larger companies (e.g., Google) offer higher salaries, while smaller businesses may only offer the bare minimum.
The salary of a network administrator typically increases as you gain more experience. There are also opportunities to move into different fields with your knowledge and expertise in computer networking (e.g., systems administration or infrastructure management).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, network administrators can expect their salaries to increase by around 11 percent over the next ten years. The growing demand for computer networking specialists is expected to fuel this growth.
5. What Skills do I Need?
Network administrators are, for the most part, self-taught. Because of this, there are many routes to take to get into the business. Employers will prefer candidates who have formal training and education. That said, the experience will always be an essential factor in getting hired.
One of the essential skills for a network administrator is computer networking technologies, and this includes things like switching, routing, wireless connectivity, and firewalls. Understanding how networks are built will provide you with an advantage when it comes time to apply for jobs or promotions within your organization.
2. Project Management
Network administrators are responsible for the smooth operation of their assigned networks. This means that you need to manage projects on your own without extensive oversight. Working as part of a team is also beneficial because everyone has different areas of expertise that can be used to accomplish larger goals.
3. Hardware/Software Troubleshooting
During the workday, you will likely encounter problems with hardware or software. Resolving these issues quickly is critical, but you also have to do so effectively. This means assessing a situation and determining what needs to be done for things to get back on track faster.
4. Communication Skills
A network administrator should communicate effectively with other members of the organization. The ability to explain technical concepts in plain language is essential when talking to your superiors or clients/customers. You may need a network analyst who can help you resolve issues during a project.
5. Customer Service Skills
You will likely be the “go-to” person within an organization/business, so good customer service skills are essential. A great network administrator should be able to defuse tense situations while finding a solution that works for everyone involved. Network administrators are often thought of as “computer geeks,” but this should not stop you from developing these soft skills.
6. The Benefits of Being a Network Administrator
Some of the benefits of being a network administrator include:
Flexible work hours: Network administrators usually have more control over their schedules than other positions within an organization. Adjusting your schedule around things like school or childcare is a huge plus. If you enjoy what you do, time will generally fly by when you’re working, so working a 9-5 job and taking care of other responsibilities around the household is very helpful.
Job security: Data networks are growing in scope and complexity, so there will always be a need for qualified network administrators to manage these systems. The role may become obsolete if all companies start conducting business exclusively online, but this is still some way off into the future.
Remote work: More and more companies are allowing their employees to work remotely, so being able to do so is a huge plus. Being able to get out of the office and get work done from home can’t be overlooked by employers. In some cases, you may even be allowed to telecommute full-time if your business has enough employees on staff working in the same region.
7. The Downsides of Being a Network Administrator
Some of the things that you might want to think about before entering this profession include:
Lack of job security: While data networks continue to grow, it does not necessarily mean that an equal number of qualified people will be needed to work on these systems. If anything, this means that many more people will be entering the field, which may saturate the market somewhat. Competition for these jobs is already pretty fierce, so you need to be able to stand out to get your foot in the door.
Low pay: Because of the demand for skilled network administrators, it tends to take a while before you can get a decent salary. You might feel underpaid for the first few years of your career until you’ve been able to gain enough experience and skills to make more money down the road.
It is also important to remember that specific certifications can help increase your landing a more lucrative job.
8. The Future of Network Administration
There are so many different things happening within the world of computing today it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen down the road with networking services. One thing is for sure, though – this industry isn’t going anywhere. It’s conducive to consider this career option if you’re not exactly sure what you want to do with your life after high school/college. Having a solid foundation of knowledge within these technical areas will surely help future job prospects. You don’t need to be an expert right off the bat, but having some specialization like network administration can help set you apart from other people in the same field.
9. Top Recruiting Companies for a Network Administrator
Some of the Top recruiting companies for a network administrator include:
10. Best Colleges to Study Network Administration
Many colleges offer degrees in network administration, but not all of them are created equal. When looking for a college to study network administration, it’s essential to choose a strong program with well-qualified instructors. Here is a list of some of the best colleges to study network administration:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Stanford University
- University of California, Berkeley
- Purdue University
- Carnegie Mellon University
Network administration is an excellent profession for those who want to be experts in the latest and most cutting-edge computer technology. The best thing about this career path is that you can work remotely, so if you do not like commuting or being stuck inside of one building all day long, then this might be the perfect opportunity for you! Those with experience as network administrators often find themselves well compensated and working flexible hours, making it easier than ever to balance your personal life with your professional ambitions.