Pros and Cons of Working as a Network Administrator
Network administrators install and design an organization's computer networking system. They oversee Internet, intranet and LAN connections and networks to make sure they are running efficiently and without errors. Find out about the pros and cons of this career to make an informed decision.
|PROS of a Network Administrator Career|
|Associate degree or professional certificate is sometimes sufficient *|
|Administrators are expected to have excellent job prospects*|
|Job growth is expected to occur significantly in certain fields (35% growth expected in computer systems design and related industries between 2012 and 2022)*|
|Potential to work from home*|
|CONS of a Network Administrator Career|
|Susceptible to eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome*|
|Consistent training is necessary to keep up with new technology*|
|Job growth may be affected by foreign outsourcing*|
|Industry certification may be necessary|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job Duties and Career Information
Network administrators endeavor to make sure a company's computer information networks are running properly. They also may help design and implement new network connections and architecture. Network administrators also spend time troubleshooting networking issues. If a company's individual users are experiencing problems at their stations, a network administrator will usually work to identify and solve those problems as quickly as possible.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment of network and computer systems administrators would grow 12% between 2012 and 2022. The BLS attributed this growth to increased network usage and to the demand of firms needing administrators to manage new technology. The BLS also noted that the demand for network administrators with knowledge of information security will also increase. Network administrators earned a median salary of about $75,790 in 2014.
What Are the Requirements?
Network administrators need to have sharp problem solving, communication and analytical skills. They also must pay close attention to details and be able to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. Additionally, they must also be able to work as part of a team with other administrators and managers, as well as fellow employees who do not have a background in computer science or technology.
Career Path and Education
Network administrators typically hold a bachelor's degree in information science or computer science, and some administrators hold bachelor's degrees in engineering or electrical engineering. It may also be possible to obtain an entry-level job with an associate degree or professional certification. Many jobs also require on-the-job training, and some employers will provide opportunities for advanced training. Depending on an administrator's educational background and work experience, there may be opportunities to move into management positions.
Real Job Listings
When you start looking for network administrator jobs, you'll notice that most employers are looking for administrators with a versatile array of skills. In addition to your educational background, employers look for candidates with strong problem solving skills, knowledge of different types of servers and forms of script writing and a background in network security. In addition to these skills, most employers are looking for administrators with some industry experience.
- A New Jersey consulting firm is seeking a network administrator with at least three years of experience. The successful candidate will know how to perform recovery and restart procedures, support analysts, research and resolve problems.
- A Philadelphia university is looking for a network administrator with a bachelor's degree in computer science and at least six years of professional experience. They must also have knowledge of server class systems and script writing.
- A Virginia company would like to hire a network administrator who can develop and maintain a network, maintain a firewall and assist with control and configuration. The ideal candidate will hold a bachelor's degree and have two years of relevant work experience.
How to Stand Out in This Field
Although many employers may require professional certification, it is typically not required for employment. Prospective network administrators may distinguish themselves by acquiring a certification credential. Several computer companies and software companies, such as Microsoft, offer different types of certification for their products and the skills needed to manage them. According to the BLS, the healthcare industry is especially in need of network administrators, so gaining some experience with healthcare information systems could be helpful.
Alternative Career Options
If you decide that a career as a network administrator is not a good fit for you, you may pursue some other professional options. These are a few different types of jobs that require similar technical skills and training.
Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists help computer users solve problems and make sure their terminals and systems are working properly. The BLS predicts that demand for these specialists will increase 18% between 2010 and 2020. These specialists also earned a median annual salary of $48,000 in 2011.
Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts examine information systems used by businesses and determine whether or not the systems can be improved or should be modified. Analysts earned a median salary of about $79,000 in 2011, and the BLS notes that systems analyst job opportunities are expected to grow 22% between 2010 and 2020.
Computer programmers design and write software applications and translate design concepts into numerical data that instructs a computer to perform certain tasks. The BLS projects a 12% increase in demand for computer programmers between 2010 and 2020. Programmers earned $73,000 in 2011.