PROS / This is a hands-on job involves collaboration with many other IT professionals.
CONS / Certification is required for network administrators.
VERDICT / Choose this career if you enjoy working with both hardware and software.
A network administrator manages both the physical and virtual aspects of an organization's computer network. The job is one of many computer careers that provide opportunities for growth and career advancement.
A network can be as small as two computers and a printer in one office, or it can serve an international business with multiple offices. A local area network (LAN) connects computers and printers to a centralized server where data is stored and backed up on a regular basis. Wide area networks (WANs) connect LANs so that users and computers at one location can communicate with those at another.
Computers, servers, printers, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phones and other office devices are often connected with Ethernet cables, although other connection methods are also used, including wireless connections.
Starting salary for this profession averages at $44,330 and it peaks at $115,180. Presently there are 366,400 individuals employed in this profession, with 42,900 job openings expected by the year 2022. Individuals who have full-time, permanent employment status often receive health insurance and other benefits.
Positions in computer careers such as this are considered managerial positions. You generally need to have three or more years of experience in the industry, and you supervise network analysts and computer tech support specialists. A technical support specialist is the contact person within a company who handles computer-related problems or requests. Network-related matters that are above the skill level of a technical support specialist are escalated to a network analyst. The most advanced network professionals are called network architects or network engineers; they design network and firewall systems. However, as a network administrator, you may fulfill many roles, depending on your experience and the size of the network that you manage. If you manage a small network, you'll have a larger range of tasks to complete than someone who works with a full team of administrators at a large company.
Work experience and a bachelor's degree in information systems will secure advancement opportunities in a network administrator position. Advancement will occur as you gain additional skills and experience. Because of the integral role that a network plays in a business, you will do best if you are able to communicate technical concepts to less technical individuals in a team environment. The more business skills you can combine with your networking knowledge, the better chance you will have at being promoted to other managerial roles within a company.
The tasks of a network administrator, just as those in other computer careers, are often performed alone, but an individual in this profession often interacts with computer professionals and other company employees regarding network components, such as an organization's internet connection or firewall security.
Overtime is usually required when a new network is getting configured, which often must be done over a short period of time. You can also expect to work long hours if a network crashes, when you must troubleshoot the cause of the crash, determine how to fix it and restore the network as quickly as possible. More and more, a network is the backbone of a business, and when it is down, that means lost revenue. Employees are not able to work, and if the network includes an online retail store, for example, customers are not able to purchase products or services.
A network administrator plays an integral role in a company or organization today. Individuals in this profession coordinate with other individuals with computer careers as well as upper management to maintain a multi-faceted network system. Network administrators are also well compensated and can gain additional certifications to improve their value to their employer.