HOW TO BECOME
A Network Administrator

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

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 Administrator Job Description

  • Network administrators install software and hardware. When computer systems have new updates, the administrator’s role is to implement the changes across the company’s network.
  • They also repair software and hardware. When software programs have compatibility issues, are infected, or the hardware device breaks down, these professionals fix them.
  • Overseeing computer security systems and installing them. If a security patch or anti-malware is released, the network administrator is responsible for implementing the changes on the computer systems.
  • These experts monitor computer performance and speed. They analyze the connection speed to determine the time taken to upload, send, download, copy and print files.
  • Network administrators implement improvements in the system performance and speed when needed. If the system is sluggish or has memory problems, they will find a solution.
  • They can add or delete users from the network. Network administrators update security permissions. If people change departments or leave the company, administrators need to update the system to reflect the change.
  • Network administrators solve system problems for individual employees. If a computer doesn’t perform properly or falls behind the others, it is their job to find the problem and solve it.

What Are the Required Skills for Network Administrator Careers?

When you work as a network administrator, you will handle many work-related issues like protecting the computer system from viruses or fixing printers when they go offline. This means you need certain skills to succeed at the job. Some might be technical and others a bit more general. They include:

Problem-solving Skills

Network administrators fix network problems when they arise. This implies that you need to accurately and quickly solve problems to minimize network downtime.

Communication Skills

Network administrators need to have good communication skills as they could be working with staff from other departments who might not be tech-savvy. They might need to train staff on software implementation of new systems, handle questions, and report to company executives about network problems.

Computer Proficiency

Computer skills are essential for network administrators. You should know how to connect and disconnect computers from the network and ensure that all staff have access. This may be difficult for someone who doesn’t have computer proficiency.

Analytical Skills

As a network administrator, you will evaluate the company’s network to make sure it operates correctly and efficiently. There may also be a need to be up-to-date on new trends in the industry that would make your job smoother. You need to know how to analyze the network to determine if it is working optimally.

Technical Skills

Technical skills are essential because you need to know how to install, update, and maintain networks. You also need some knowledge of troubleshooting, Windows Server, and database servers like SQL Server. In addition, basic knowledge of scripting languages such as Perl, Python, and PHP is needed.

How Much Do Network Administrators Make

How Much Do Network
Administrators Make?

Networking is one of the high-paying sectors in IT. As a network administrator, you can earn an impressive salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary was $84,810 in May 2020.

The report also states that the lowest 10 percent earned below $52,830, while the highest 10 percent earned over $134,970. The average network administrator salary differs slightly in different states.

City Average Salary
San Francisco, CA $82,500
New York, NY $71,953
Los Angeles, CA $69,342
Seattle, WA $67,947
Atlanta, GA $66,948
Boston, MA $63,859
Dallas, TX $63,587
Milwaukee, WI $63,412
Portland, OR $60,565
Chicago, IL $60,456
Minneapolis, MN $60,345
Miami, FL $59,781
Philadelphia, PA $58,559
Phoenix, AZ $56,533
Cleveland, OH $53,632

Also, the salary can be determined by position and years of experience. Below is a list of the average salary for network administrators at different career stages.

Position Salary
Entry-Level (0-5 Years) $49,698
Mid-Career (5-10 Years) $61,402
Experienced (10-20 Years) $66,759
Late-Career (20+ Years) $72,782

Network Administrator Technologies and
Coding Languages

As a network administrator, you may be required to know a few coding languages and technologies. Some of them include:

Python

This open-source programming language has been a top choice for programmers. It is also a useful skill for network administrators as they use it to automate system administration tasks. Python is also used to integrate scripts and plugins into various workflows.

Perl

This programming language is over 30 years old and is still popular with techies. The popularity increased with its new common gateway interface scripting. This language allows network administrators to execute programs on dynamic websites. It is an essential tool for a network administrator.

TCL

Tool Command Language (TCL) language is one of the oldest programming languages. It was created from the frustration of developers who were unable to embed their languages into applications. It gained popularity because of its power and speed and it comes in handy in networking.

Bash

Bash is a command language and a native shell of Unix-based systems like macOS and Linux. Network administrators need Bash skills to execute commands with highly intricate syntax.

PowerShell

PowerShell is another invaluable tool for network administrators. It gives them control and access to the entire system from a command line. It can be used to automate administration tasks to save time and prevent human error. Also, the scripts can be used to schedule out-of-hours tasks for repetition.

How Can You Become a Network
Administrator?

Before becoming a network administrator, you need to be properly trained. The first step will be to get an education. Most employers look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree. However, associate degrees can also open your path to entry-level roles.

When you are done with your education, an internship may do a lot of good. This experience can help you to find a job. You can then apply for entry-level positions. To get more advanced or senior roles, you need to get more experience and education. There are also certifications to help you with the required skills.

Network Administrator Learning Paths

Network Administrator Bootcamps

Coding boot camps are intensive programs that teach in-demand tech skills within a short period. One way to become a network administrator is to attend a coding boot camp. These boot camps help you to switch to tech especially if you studied a discipline that isn’t related to network administration.

In a network administrator boot camp, you will gain the knowledge needed to be a UNIX power user and understand the fundamentals of system administration. Students often learn crucial commands needed in the Linux environment. They may also learn about file process creation, system structure, and management.

College/University

Many employers prefer candidates with formal education. BLS states that most require a bachelor’s degree while it is also possible to enter the field with an associate degree. It is important to note that an associate degree will only qualify you for entry-level roles.

If you want to enter the field as soon as possible, an associate degree is your best bet. It equips you with practical skills and the knowledge needed to start. It can also be completed in 18 months. The hands-on experience will get you started in the field.

Self-study

There are a lot of courses on the Internet for prospective network administrators. Popular learning platforms offer short courses and MOOCs on this subject. They include Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, edX, and FutureLearn. Some are free, while others are paid. Some offer a certificate at the end of the course. Most are self-paced.

While self-study is possible, it may be difficult to learn what you need. For one, there is no guidance and no structured curricula to guide you on what to learn to become an expert. It is wise to attend a coding bootcamp because they have structured curricula based on in-demand skills.

What Companies Are Hiring Network Administrators?

Nearly every enterprise depends on computers, which makes network administrators essential. They are required in various industries such as government, retail, software development, finance, utility, education, healthcare, and media.

Even the healthcare industry is in need of network administrators as hospitals go paperless, opting for laptops and tablets rather than paper files. Medical records that were stored in files have been scanned into computers. Network administrators manage the computer networks so that they run smoothly.

FAQ

What does a network administrator do?

The network administrator is responsible for managing networks daily. They install, organize, and support the computer systems of an organization. Their job could cover local area networks, network segments, intranets, and wide area networks.

Is a network administrator a good career?

Network administration is an excellent career if you are interested in software and hardware. It is also a good choice because the world is going digital, thus increasing the demand for such experts. So, you will always be able to find a good job.

Can you be a network administrator without a degree?

Yes, you can. Generally, network administrators need to have a bachelor’s degree. However, some employers may accept certificates and associate degrees. It depends on the company.

What skills do you need to be a network administrator?

There are a lot of skills needed to thrive as a network administrator. However, the main ones include IT, problem-solving, interpersonal, and collaboration skills.

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