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Network administrators are professionals who manage computer network systems. They work with communication networks, network hardware, and systems of wide area networks. With the right skills and experience, there are plenty of opportunities available in this field.

The demand for network administrators is increasing, due to the need to secure data and computer networks. Firms want to invest in network systems and technologies that are better, faster, and more secure, and they look to network administrators to implement those upgrades.

What Is a Network Administrator?

A network administrator monitors the daily operation of networks, network hardware, and communication systems. Their job primarily consists of ensuring smooth operation, improving performance, and tightening network security.

How Does Network Administration Relate to Data Science?

Network administrators rely on an understanding of data science for many of their duties. Things like machine learning, data mining, and data visualization are all areas of data science that network administrators need to be familiar with.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Network Administrator?

Typically, it takes between two and five years to become a network administrator. However, the amount of time varies depending on the program that you choose. Generally, employers prefer either a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree with additional training.

Where to Study Network Administration

There are many colleges and universities that offer programs for network administration. As employers typically require either a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree, it would be a good idea to choose an institution that offers programs in information technology, computer science, or other network-related fields.

It’s important to remember that different companies have different educational requirements. So, if there is a specific company that you’re interested in working with, it might be helpful to become aware of their requirements and make sure you’re enrolled in a program that is acceptable to the employer.

Network Administrator Community Colleges

You can attend a community college to get an associate degree and enter the field, which generally takes between 18 months to three years. Many of these colleges offer programs in Network Information Technology, Computer Network Administration, and Network Systems Administration. Check out some of the best associate degrees in IT to get started.

Network Administrator Universities

Many universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in things related to network administration such as computer science, software engineering, and information technology. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a related field will also open up more opportunities, as some companies will prefer a bachelor’s degree over an associate degree.

Network Administrator Coding Bootcamps

Attending a coding bootcamp can help to accelerate your knowledge in the field, especially if you’ve switched careers from a non-technical/non-IT industry. While coding may not explicitly be in network administration, coding bootcamps will provide an understanding of related fields like software engineering, cyber security, or Python.

Network Administrator Online Courses

Self-study is now possible thanks to online resources and massive open online courses (MOOCs), like Coursera, edX, or FutureLearn. Many courses are offered entirely online. Remember to be aware of the eligibility requirements of your desired employer to determine whether or not independent learning options will suffice.

How to Become a Network Administrator: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Become a Network Administrator: A Step-by-Step Guide

Network administration is a stable career, especially as the need for network administrators steadily increases. If this is a field that interests you, check out the step-by-step guide below to learn how to become a network administrator.

Get a degree

Your best first step would be to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Many universities offer programs related to network administration. Getting your Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science is a good option, as it will cover many of the skills and knowledge required for network administration.

Get certified

Employers of network administrators will often favor candidates with certifications on their resumes. Some companies prefer applicants who have a certification that is related to their specific operating systems.

Freelance or intern

Pursuing freelance work or internships after graduation and certification is a great way to gain experience before committing to a company long-term. Having some experience before applying at your ideal company is also a great way to stand out to employers.

Apply for jobs

Explore job boards and other popular platforms to find and apply for jobs as a network administrator. It’s a good idea to apply at different places to increase your chances of finding the right job for you.

Entry-Level Network Administrator Job Requirements

The requirements for positions as a network administrator may vary from company to company. Generally, a network administrator position requires you to have a working knowledge of networks. It’s important to be adaptable and ready to learn how to use the network system that your hiring company uses.

Network Administrator Salary and Job Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a network administrator is $84,810. The average salary is $52,830 for entry-level positions and $134,970 for senior positions.

BLS estimates that employment within the field will rise five percent from 2020 to 2030. However, IT positions in general are rapidly increasing as technology continues to advance.

Example Network Administrator Job Interview Questions

  • Can you give an in-depth description of network components or systems?
  • What do you find interesting about network administration? When and why did you become interested in this field?
  • Can you efficiently fix common issues with networks? Do you have experience in troubleshooting network issues?
  • Do you have an understanding of network infrastructure? Can you identify modern practices and keep up with trends?

What Does a Network Administrator Do?

Network administrators are responsible for ensuring smooth operation, maintaining security, keeping networks current, and fixing network-related issues. Learn more details about the responsibilities of network administrators below.

Monitor Network Operations

Data administrators monitor network systems and make sure that everything is operating as it should. They keep the system components coordinated and connected, install and configure software on the networks, and manage the hardware.

Data administrators manage telecommunication networks, as well as monitor the performance and speed of the network, performing tests to identify issues and provide solutions. Responsibilities will vary to an extent, depending on the company.

Secure Networks

Network administrators oversee the security of the network. They are responsible for installing security patches, anti-malware, and security permissions. Due to the challenges of cyber security, securing the network is an important role of network administrators. They also regularly back up data and create disaster recovery plans.

Troubleshoot Network Issues

Network administrators troubleshoot issues related to networking hardware, software, servers, and cloud services. They fix problems in the network system, which requires excellent analytical skills and critical thinking skills. They also resolve the broad range of network problems faced by users of the network.

Update Network Systems and Train Employees

Network administrators make the upgrades to the network system. They install updates and inform employees or users of the changes, as needed. Staff often need additional training after new installations so they can adapt to the changes. This is also part of network administrators’ responsibility to ensure smooth operation.

Man in a grey sweater using a laptop. Essential Network Administrator Skills and Certifications

Essential Network Administrator Skills and Certifications

Employers are always looking for skilled IT professionals to join their teams. Candidates need to be knowledgeable about the industry and equipped with the skills needed, but it’s also important to be a team player, think critically, and communicate well. We have compiled a list of essential skills and common certifications for network administration, below.

Network Administrator Skills

Technical Skills

Technical skills are extremely important in this field. They need to be able to navigate code and software, connect computers to networks, troubleshoot issues, and analyze server infrastructure to make improvements. Additionally, their role involves installing, maintaining, and updating the company network system, as well as managing its security.

It’s important to be able to differentiate between local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), and virtual private networks (VPNs). They need to understand Microsoft Active Directory (AD), Domain Name System (DNS), and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCS). Mastering either Linux, Microsoft, or both will also be very helpful.

Soft Skills

Although soft skills don’t immediately come to mind when considering network administration as a career, they’re necessary for this field. Collaboration and communication skills are especially useful as they work closely with teams, lead network-related projects, and communicate with different branches of the company.

Multitasking Skills

Network administrators handle a variety of tasks and will often need to multitask to fulfill the demands of the job. They receive numerous requests a day. While they’re troubleshooting issues, answering questions, and clarifying technological misunderstandings, they’re also managing networks, installing and repairing software and hardware, and training new network administrators.

Network Administrator Certifications

Certifications will help you stand out in job openings for a network administrator role. They further substantiate your field experience if you have any. You can expect higher salaries and consideration for promotion to systems manager, data center manager, network engineer, or IT director.

This certification can set you apart in the competition and validate your skills to manage, troubleshoot, and monitor network systems. It shows that you are dedicated to the network administrator career path. The training for the exam covers network solutions for enterprises, LANs, and WANs.

This Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) offers a Network+ certification that covers topics like systems design and network management. This certification proves that you can troubleshoot, implement security measures, and manage the network hardware. It is popular for network administrators, network technicians, junior systems engineers, and network analysts.

This is another certification by CompTIA that can improve your resume and advance your career. Along with accumulated experience as a network administrator, this certification can help you get senior network administration and IT roles. To qualify for this exam, you need one year of hands-on field experience.

If you have experience and knowledge in managing and monitoring Azure cloud structures for at least six months, you can get this certificate to highlight your expertise. To prepare for the exam, they have online learning material available on Learning Path.

Reasons to Become a Network Administrator in 2021

There are many great reasons to become a network administrator in 2021. Not only are businesses growing, but many are creating fully remote positions that solely rely on technological networks to operate. Many universities and colleges are also now offering associate and bachelor’s degree programs exclusively online, increasing the demand for network administrators.

Additionally, tons of establishments and businesses have made their services available online like banking, shopping, as well as medical, mental, and legal services. Network administrators will only continue to be in high demand, as different aspects of life continue to transition online.

Network Administrator FAQ

Do I need a degree in network administration to work as a network administrator?

Getting a degree in network administration isn’t always necessary. However, many network administrators get bachelor’s degrees in related fields, such as computer science, software engineering, or network administration. You can also consider combining an associate degree and certifications. It’s important to remember that requirements vary between companies.

Which coding languages and software does a network administrator use?

Network administrators use a variety of coding languages and software, depending on the computer and network infrastructure of the company. Some of the most popular coding languages and software you might use are JavaScript, Python, Perl, Linux OS, PowerShell, SQL Server, and Cisco.

Is network administration hard?

Network administration isn’t necessarily hard. Network administrators receive the appropriate education, training, and experience to take on the complex responsibilities of the job. Network administrators’ opinions of whether or not the job is hard will vary.

Is network administration a good career?

Network administration is an excellent career. With technology constantly advancing, and many aspects of life transitioning to online, the demand for network administrators will continue to increase. If you are adaptable, enjoy challenges, and are interested in the field, this might be the career for you.

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