Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Career, Salary and Education Information

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What Network and Computer Systems Administrators Do[About this section] [To Top]

Computer networks are critical parts of almost every organization. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of these networks. They organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.

Duties of Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators typically do the following:

  • Determine an organization’s network and computer system needs before setting one up
  • Install all network hardware and software and make needed upgrades and repairs
  • Maintain network and computer system security and ensure that all systems are operating correctly
  • Collect data in order to evaluate and optimize network or system performance
  • Add users to a network and assign and update security permissions on the network
  • Train users in the proper use of hardware and software
  • Interpret and solve problems when a user or an automated monitoring system alerts them that one exists

Administrators manage an organization’s servers and desktop and mobile equipment. They ensure that email and data storage networks work properly. They also make sure that employees’ workstations are working efficiently and stay connected to the central computer network. Some administrators manage telecommunication networks.

In some cases, administrators help network architects design and analyze network models. They also participate in decisions about buying future hardware or software to upgrade their organization’s network. Some administrators provide technical support to computer users, and they also may supervise computer support specialists who help solve users’ problems.

Work Environment for Network and Computer Systems Administrators[About this section] [To Top]

Network and computer systems administrators hold about 382,600 jobs. The industries that employ the most network and computer systems administrators are as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 16%
Information 11
Educational services; state, local, and private 10
Finance and insurance 8
Administrative and support services 7

Network and computer systems administrators work with many types of workers, including information technology (IT) workers, such as computer network architects and computer and information systems managers, and non-IT staff.

Network and Computer Systems Administrator Work Schedules

Most network and computer systems administrators work full time. Most organizations depend on their computer networks, so many administrators must work overtime to ensure that the networks are operating properly. About 1 in 4 of administrators work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Network or Computer Systems Administrator[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Network and Computer Systems Administrators near you!

Most employers require network and computer systems administrators to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science. Others may require only a postsecondary certificate.

Network and Computer Systems Administrator Education

Although some employers require only a postsecondary certificate, most require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science. There are degree programs that focus on computer network and system administration. However, because administrators work with computer hardware and equipment, a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering usually is acceptable as well. Programs in these fields usually include classes in computer programming, networking, or systems design.

Because network technology is continually changing, administrators need to keep up with the latest developments. Many continue to take courses throughout their careers and attend information technology (IT) conferences to keep up with the latest technology. Some businesses require that an administrator get a master’s degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification programs are generally offered directly from vendors or from vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates knowledge and best practices required from network and computer systems administrators. Companies may require their network and computer systems administrators to be certified in the product they use. Microsoft and Cisco offer some of the most common certifications.

Other Experience

To gain practical experience, many network administrators participate in internship programs while in school.

Advancement for Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network administrators can advance to become computer network architects. They can also advance to managerial jobs in information technology (IT) departments, such as computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities for Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Analytical skills. Administrators need analytical skills to evaluate network and system performance and determine how changes in the environment will affect them.

Communication skills. Administrators must be able to describe problems and their solutions to non-IT workers.

Computer skills. Administrators oversee the connections of many different types of computer equipment and must ensure that they all work together properly.

Multitasking skills. Administrators may have to work on many problems and tasks at the same time.

Problem-solving skills. Administrators must be able to quickly resolve any problems that arise with computer networks.

Network and Computer Systems Administrator Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators is $75,790. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $46,220, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $120,000.

The median annual wages for network and computer systems administrators in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Information $81,160
Computer systems design and related services 80,080
Finance and insurance 79,710
Administrative and support services 75,860
Educational services; state, local, and private 64,840

Most network and computer systems administrators work full time. Most organizations depend on their computer networks, so many administrators work overtime to ensure that the networks are operating properly. About 1 in 4 administrators work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook for Network and Computer Systems Administrators[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow 8 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for information technology workers is high and should continue to grow as firms invest in newer, faster technology and mobile networks. Growth is also expected in healthcare industries as their use of information technology increases. More administrators will be required to manage the growing systems and networks found at hospitals and other healthcare institutions. However, an increase in cloud computing could raise the productivity of network administrators, slowing their growth across many industries.

Employment of network administrators in the computer systems design and related services industry is projected to grow 31 percent over the next ten years. The increasing adoption of cloud services by small and medium-sized businesses who do not have their own dedicated information technology (IT) departments could increase the demand for network and computer systems administrators in establishments within this industry.

Network and Computer Systems Administrators Job Prospects

Job opportunities should be favorable in this occupation. Prospects should be best for applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in computer network and system administration or computer science and who are up to date on the latest technology, especially cloud computing.

Employment projections data for Network and Computer Systems Administrators, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Network and computer systems administrators 382,600 412,800 8 30,200


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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