THE Fast-Track Guide to Becoming a Network Administrator

Are you getting worn out working the same old job while you spend your work hours daydreaming about a corner office and a fancy car? Now might be the time to do something about it! While the U.S. economy remains at a standstill, the technology industry is experiencing an exciting boost.

So instead of watching your friends head off to their prestigious jobs while you tolerate your ordinary routine, why not take the necessary steps to join the ranks of the top tech professionals?

One career that is experiencing immense growth is network administration. In fact, the number of professionals in this position is expected to increase by 28 percent through 2020, making it one of the fastest growing IT jobs.

In addition, the entry-level salary for individuals in this position is $58,882 annually*, which is more than double the median annual salary for all U.S. workers in 2010. If that doesn’t get you excited about starting a career in network administration, not much will!

What’s more is that you don’t even have to wait four years to get your hands dirty in the industry. That’s right, there’s a shorter path to getting your foot in the door. Below, we’ve compiled some information to help you answer your questions about becoming a network administrator, so be sure to take note!

network-administration-quick-facts

What does a network administrator do?

Before we dive in too much further, it’s important to understand exactly what this position entails. Network administrators manage communication systems to ensure information is flowing properly within an organization, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Daily responsibilities may include

  • Installing and supporting an organization’s network system
  • Monitoring network to ensure availability to all system users
  • Examining website functions to ensure performance without interruption
  • Performing data backups and disaster recovery operations

What skills do you need to become a network administrator?

Unfortunately, understanding the daily duties of a network administrator isn’t enough to land you the job. If you want to excel in the field, it’s important to know the skills you’ll need to succeed. Just like in any career, there is a combination of hard and soft skills needed to succeed in the field.*

Let’s start with the soft skills, since these are talents that tend to come naturally, therefore are more difficult to teach. If you feel you possess these inherent qualities, then you may be more prepared than you think for becoming a network administrator.

Soft skills include

  • Problem solving
  • Business environment skills
  • Communication and coordination
  • Basic technical assistance
  • Project management skills

Soft skills play a vital role in the day-to-day operations of network administration, but they are essentially useless if not complemented by the necessary hard skills. So once you’ve determined you’ve got the natural qualities to thrive in the industry, it’s time to start priming the technical skills.

Hard skills include

  • System administration
  • Operating systems (OS)
  • System and network configuration
  • Domain name system (DNS)
  • Software installation and upgrade
  • Firewalls

Not familiar with some of these technical skills? Don’t let that intimidate you! This is precisely the kind of training and expertise you can acquire by earning a degree in network administration.

How much education do you need to become a network administrator?

The good news is that network administration positions are open to individuals of all education levels. This means that you won’t necessarily have to invest four years of training before getting your feet wet in the industry. That’s right, there’s a faster track to launching your career as a network administrator.

Many schools offer a network administration diploma that will help provide you with the knowledge and practical skills to successfully navigate complex networks and troubleshoot issues. The best part about this option is that you can earn your diploma in as little as 18 months!

Often times, the coursework in these programs will help prepare you to earn industry-specific certifications as well. For example, the network administration diploma offered through the Rasmussen College School of Technology aligns directly with certifications from CompTIA, Microsoft and Cisco.

Students in these programs can take certification exams at no additional cost. What’s more, prior completion of these certifications may allow you to waive certain courses, which ultimately shaves off time and money from your overall investment.

Where can you go from there?

If you decide to pursue a network administration diploma, you’ve already taken the first step in starting a new career. But the best part about this credential is that it doesn’t have to be your final destination. While it’s enough to help you land an entry-level position, you don’t have to stop there!

Some schools, including Rasmussen College, offer a unique laddering structure. This allows students to earn one credential at a time, while building their way up to a higher degree. Think of it as upgrading your first set of wheels to a newer, faster model.

If you decide later that you’d like to continue advancing your career, the credits you accumulated through your network administration diploma could be applied towards an associate’s degree in network administration.

If you’re still hungry for more, a bachelor’s degree may even be in your future. As a general rule of thumb, job opportunities and earning potential increase with education level.

So … what are you waiting for?

It’s exciting to think about the future and the opportunities available to you down the road, but don’t get ahead of yourself. The fact of the matter is, if the information we shared has you interested in becoming a network administrator, there’s no better time to start. Just focus on one step at a time.

In 18 short months, you could land your dream job and finally be on the same level as your buddies. Who knows? If you decide to continue with your education to help advance your career further, before you know it, they’ll be the ones envying you!

 

For more information about careers in technology, download our FREE Technology Career Outlook today!

 

*Source: BurningGlass.com (analysis of 2,064 entry-level network administration job postings, 06/11/2012 to 06/10/2013)

**Source: BurningGlass.com (analysis of 110,163 network administration job postings, 06/11/2012 to 06/10/2013)

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Callie is an Inbound Marketing Specialist whose aim is to compose helpful and encouraging content to assist Rasmussen College students. Her eagerness for helping others combined with her creative writing passion makes her a great asset to past, present and prospective learners.

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