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What Does a Network Administrator Do?

If you work in an office you have probably seen a couple of people running around, fixing computer problems and asking you technical questions that sound like Greek to you. Most people would probably refer to these guys as “IT” guys but that is a dismissive title. The guy talking to you about why you can’t connect to the internet is probably an IT or Information Technology guy but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that you may not know about. The one controlling the whole show is called the Network Administrator.

So what is a network administrator? In short, a network administrator is the person who is in charge of making sure that all computer systems, internet networks, cyber-security, and system upkeep. In some cases, they are even the ones who install the whole computing and network infrastructure in the first place. In short, they keep the flow of information and communication within an organization moving.

A Day in the Life of a Network Admin

The above description seems simple enough but there is a lot that goes into the job title of network administrator (also sometimes called system administrators). Remember that a network admin is responsible for the entire computer network including software integration, hardware implementation, and wireless networking so the daily duties of a network admin typically include:

  • Training the IT department and employees on the proper use of system networks including hardware and software.
  • Maintenance is a huge part of the admin’s job and can include troubleshooting connectivity problems, keeping detailed documentation of how the network and even the cables are set up, and keeping wireless connections secure.
  • Overseeing multiple networks is often required for larger companies or organizations as many of them will have off-site networks or at least Wide Area Networks (WANs).
  • Planning expansions to networks will be required of an admin if the employing company or organization is looking to enhance or grow their networks to accommodate more users and functions.
  • Closely monitoring the network and recommending upgrades or other ways to increase efficiency or lower costs is also a typical task for an admin. This duty also entails being on the lookout for system flaws and potential security threats.
  • Integrating new users to the network and creating new security allowances for them will fall under the admin’s jurisdiction.
  • Determining the needs of a certain organization in terms of networking and operating systems is a huge responsibility for an admin as they work closely with the corporate side of the organization. This can mean building an infrastructure from the ground up or making improvements to existing networking infrastructure.

What Industries can a Network Admin Work in?

Even if you have been living under a rock you know that almost every shop, restaurant, medical facility or school you walk into has an integrated computer system handling both the mundane and complicated tasks of the organization at large. Almost every modern industry requires certified network administrators including but not limited to:

  • Utility companies
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Software development
  • Government
  • Finance
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Publishing
  • Telecom management

As modernization pushes forward this list is sure to grow and industries you may not have ever thought would need this kind of work will look to skilled network administrators to help streamline their operations and become more profitable.

The Vital Skills for Today’s Network Admin

There is more than one route to becoming a system admin. If you are attending school and are interested in network admin it would be wise to take courses in computer science, engineering or software design. While a degree in these fields is not always required they are favored by most major companies and corporations.

There are courses and certifications that can be taken and earned by anyone interested in network administration and if you don’t have a degree; experience with IT departments can help. Aside from official certifications and degrees, certain technical and interpersonal skills are becoming vital to today’s successful network admin.

  • Strict attention to detail is a must since you will be required to identify even the minutest of potential security flaws.
  • Knowledge of IT and general tech is chiefly important when called upon to configure, connect and design IT systems.
  • A keen ability to troubleshoot and think critically is an asset to any admin as “outside the box” solutions are often required to fix complex network issues.
  • The ability to manage time efficiently will help tremendously as organizations large and small usually can’t afford to wait too long to have their IT problems solved.
  • The modern network admin will also benefit from being patient and communicative as they will almost certainly be required to interact with employees about operating systems and aspects of IT that they didn’t go to school for.

The Outlook of Modern Network Administration

It was calculated that the median pay for network administrators in 2018 was $39.45 per hour which works out to roughly $82,050 annually. Not bad, especially when considering that the demand for this kind of work is projected only to go up within the next six years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the rise in network admin jobs to be about 6% through the year 2026. So things are looking good for the field but anyone looking to get into it or anyone who is already in it should be cautiously optimistic.

The growing shift to cloud computing and AI are slowly handling some of the tasks that were usually placed upon the admin’s shoulders. Still, these systems (especially when integrated into small to medium-sized organizations) could create a demand for administration in and of themselves. One of the key qualities of a professional network admin and one that will likely keep them working despite the shift to AI and cloud computing is continuing education. Don’t rest on your laurels as a network admin. Stay abreast of the most important IT developments to off-set any potential hiccup in network admin demand.