Becoming a Cisco Administrator: Salary Info & Job Description

About this article
A Cisco administrator or network and computer systems administrator's median salary is around $80,000 a year. Is it worth the education and certification requirements? Read real job descriptions and learn about job prospects to see if becoming a Cisco administrator is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Cisco Administrator

As a Cisco administrator, you may install networking hardware in addition to maintaining, supervising and troubleshooting the existing network. Check out these pros and cons to see if a Cisco administrator career is right for you.

Pros of Becoming a Cisco Administrator
Average job growth (12% increase from 2012-2022)*
Higher-than-average salary ($79,770 median annual salary for network and computer systems administrators)*
Can work for many types and sizes of companies*
Possibility of working from home*

Cons of Being a Cisco Administrator
Rigorous education in advanced mathematics and computer sciences*
May require overtime or after-hours work (25% of employees worked more than 40 hours per week in 2012)*
Need to maintain knowledge of changing technologies**
Long hours sitting at a computer*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Cisco

Job Descriptions

Network administrators work to install and maintain a network on which a company's information and communications are stored and transmitted. This could include local area networks (LANs) and wireless Internet networks. Cisco administrators have experience specifically in Cisco software and technology products. When a problem arises, the administrator must work quickly to determine a solution and maintain the system's security. Cisco administrators also monitor the company's network and let their superiors know about any emerging requirements or necessary updates.

Job Prospects and Salary

As businesses continue to add technologies and switch to more electronic records and communications, the need for employees to oversee internal networks will increase, creating excellent job prospects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Although computer system and software companies will continue to employ IT workers of all types, some of the largest industry employers of network administrators are computer systems design services, management companies and schools. The BLS also reported in May 2014 that most salaries for network and computer systems administrators ranged from the low 10% figure of $46,220 to the top 90% figure of $120,000 annually (www.bls.gov).

Education and Training Requirements

Most network administrators hold a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, such as computer science, management information systems or information technology. These programs typically focus on advanced mathematics, computer programming, systems and databases, though sometimes they may include fundamental business courses. There are associate's degree programs available in subjects such as networking technology or systems technology that could be an alternative to a 4-year program if you're willing to gain some knowledge from work experience, possibly in a position such as a computer support specialist.

Cisco Credentials

To become a Cisco administrator, you need to pass one or more of Cisco's five certification levels. The Cisco certifications range from entry to architect, but the most common credential among network administrators is the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) designation. The CCNA exam tests on concepts in configuring and installing medium networks, as well as protocols.

What Are Employers Looking For?

In 2009, Cisco's Learning Network interviewed network administrators and their superiors about what makes a good Cisco administrator. Ideal potential employees were those who were prepared to tackle problems head-on and who had expertise in multiple areas of IT. Here are summaries of some job postings for network administrators that were open in February 2012:

  • A Reston, VA, company specializing in hosting and management solutions was looking for a Cisco network administrator with a bachelor's degree, at least five years of experience, a Certified Cisco Network Professional certification and strong communication skills.
  • An IT solutions company in New York advertised for a Cisco Certified Network Professional with five years of network troubleshooting experience, along with a resourceful, analytical and detail-oriented nature.
  • A Texas company that provides software solutions for the healthcare industry was looking to hire a network administrator with strong communication and customer service skills, as well as the ability to prioritize and multitask.

How Can I Stand Out in the Field?

Because technologies are ever changing, the people who work with them need to be constantly updating their knowledge. One way to show potential employers that you're a driven employee is to stay abreast of developing trends in software, hardware and information technology solutions. Your Cisco certification may demonstrate this as well, and you should always be thinking about testing for the next level in the Cisco certification chain.

Broaden Your Skill Set

In addition to the depth of skills, IT employees should also think about the breadth of their knowledge. Because there are so many facets to IT, your specialized knowledge could seem like a detractor; however, understanding multiple areas of the field adds to your value as an employee. In addition to networking, you may want to learn about information systems, database management or operating systems.

Other Fields to Consider

Database Administrator

If you'd like to work in IT, but you're not sure if network administration is the right fit, you could work as a database administrator, a job that entails less hardware and more software. As a database administrator, you would be responsible for the systems that store and organize a company's information. The education and salary for this position are about the same as a network administrator, though you may not need to seek certification.

Software Engineer

If you'd rather work creating software than utilizing and maintaining it, you might want to look into software engineering. You'll take extensive math and computer science courses to prepare for a career in software design, but employment for computer software engineers was projected to increase by 32% between 2008 and 2018. Applications software developers earned median annual wages of $87,790, while systems software developers earned a median wage of a bit more at $94,180 in May 2010.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • MS in Cybersecurity Management
    Bachelor's
      • BSIT: Network Admin
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
    Associate's
      • Associate: Information Technology
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S.s - Management Information Systems
      • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master - Information Technology Management
      • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Information Technology
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
      • MBA: Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Public Safety Leadership and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project/Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
      • Bachelor: Technology Management
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology Admin and Management With No Declared Minor or Concentration
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
      • Associate of Science - Technology Studies
    Certificate
      • Networking Systems Certificate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. The Art Institutes

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Visual & Game Programming (BS)
      • Visual & Game Programming (BA)
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
      • BS - Game Design (Campus)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA with an Emphasis in Data Analytics
      • Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Data Analytics)
    Master's
      • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Instructional Technology
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security (Bridge)
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems
      • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Information Systems
      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity
      • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Information Systems - MSIS (Master's)
      • Leadership Studies - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MBA (Master's)
      • Cloud Security Risk Management - MSIS (Master's)
    Bachelor's
      • Information Technology and Security - Bachelor
      • Game Software Development - Bachelor
    Associate's
      • Information Technology - Associate
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Computer and Information Security
      • PhD-TIM - Cybersecurity
    Master's
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Computer Science
      • MSTIM - Information Systems
      • MBA - Management Information Systems
      • MBA - Computer and Information Security
      • MSTIM - Cybersecurity

Featured Schools

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Kaplan University

  • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
  • BSIT: Network Admin
  • Associate: Information Technology

Which subject are you interested in?

Keiser University

  • B.S.s - Management Information Systems
  • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
  • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Master - Information Technology Management
  • BS - Information Technology
  • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Technology Management
  • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
  • Networking Systems Certificate

What is your highest level of education?

The Art Institutes

  • Visual & Game Programming (BS)
  • Visual & Game Programming (BA)

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
  • BS - Game Design (Campus)

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA with an Emphasis in Data Analytics
  • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • B.S. in Information Technology

What is your highest level of education?