How to Become a Network Administrator: The Info You Need to Know
You catch yourself daydreaming of a flashy IT career while watching the clock tick by at your dead-end job. You secretly wish you had an exciting career to talk about with your friends and family. Let’s face it, it may be time to take your technology passion from an interest to a full-fledged career.
If you’re eager to take your first step into the technology field, becoming a network administrator might be an ideal option. These tech pros play a vital role within businesses of all kinds, overseeing the day-to-day operations of critical computer systems.
If we’ve caught your attention, you’re probably curious about how to become a network administrator and get started in the field. We’ve got all the info you’ll need to plan your path and gain a better understanding of this important technology role.
What does a network administrator do, anyway?
Before we dive in too much further, it’s important to understand exactly what this position entails. Network administrators are responsible for keeping an organization’s computer network up to date and operating smoothly. This is a critical component for companies spanning nearly every industry—not just the technology field.
Let’s take a look at some of the common duties of a network administrator, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): 1
- Installing and supporting an organization’s network system
- Monitoring the network to ensure availability to all system users
- Examining website functions to ensure optimal performance
- Maintaining system security and telecommunication networks
- Training users on proper use of software and hardware
You’ll notice many of these duties are highly technical, which is why there are some specific skills included in typical network administrator requirements. Let’s take a closer look at what these tech pros are expected to know.
What skills do you need to become a network administrator?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’ll need plenty of technical skills for this position. But soft skills will be just as important to carry out your daily duties.
We used real-time job analysis software to examine nearly 130,000 network administrator job postings from the past year.2 The data helped us identify the top skills employers are seeking. Here’s what we found:
Top technical skills:2
- System administration
- Microsoft® Active Directory
- VMware™ products
- Technical support
- Windows Server®
- Hardware/software installation
- Domain Name System (DNS)
Top transferrable skills:2
- Microsoft Office®
- Attention to detail
If these network administrator requirements seem intimidating to you, that’s perfectly normal. These are precisely the kind of knowledge and skill sets you can acquire by earning a Network Systems Administration degree.
What network administrator education requirements are there?
Speaking of honing new skills, you’re probably curious about the education and training needed to become a network administrator. The good news is that 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.
Most employers prefer their network administrator candidates to have some level of formal education, according to the BLS.1 Certain positions will require a bachelor’s degree, but an associate’s degree will qualify you for many entry-level roles.
If you’re looking for a swift path into the field, a Network Systems Administration Associate’s degree will help equip you with the knowledge and practical skills needed to get started. A program can be completed in as few as 18 months.3 This network administrator education will get you started, but it’s the invaluable, hands-on experience that can truly help you continue to thrive in the field.
What career advancement opportunities are available to network administrators?
If you decide to pursue an Associate’s degree in Network Systems Administration, you’ve already taken the first step in starting an exciting new tech 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’ll have an opportunity to build on it in the future.
Increasing your experience and advancing your education can help you grow in this field, and there are numerous directions you could go. One option is to pursue a specialty track, such as cyber security or data analytics. Some opt to take a management route. Either way, it’s good to know you’ll have options in the future.
What is the average network administrator salary?
Now that you’re seriously considering becoming a network administrator, there’s one final piece of information you’re likely curious about. How much do network administrators make on average?
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for network administrators in 2018 was $81,100.1 This is more than twice the national average for all occupations, which the BLS reports was $37,690 for the same time period.
The BLS goes on to report that certain industries offer higher compensation than others. The fields offering the highest network administrator salaries in 2017 were the information industry as well as the finance and insurance industries.1
Is a network administration career in your future?
Now you’re aware of how to become a network administrator and what this tech career entails. If this sounds like the career upgrade you’ve been looking for, what’s holding you back?
The sooner you start on your education path, the sooner you can launch your career in the flourishing technology field. Start planning your next steps by learning more about the Rasmussen College Network Systems Administration program.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed February 2019]. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Source: BurningGlass.com (Analysis of 129,711 network administrator job postings, Feb. 1, 2018 – Jan. 31, 2019).
3Completion time is dependent on credit transfers accepted and courses completed each term.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in June 2013. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2019.
Linux is a registered trademark of The Linux Foundation.
Microsoft Active Directory, Microsoft Office and Windows Server are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
VMware is a registered trademark of VMware, Inc.
Cisco is a registered trademark of Cisco Systems, Inc.