The Fast-Track Guide to Becoming a Network Administrator

 female IT tech with tablet working on server

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 impressive career to show off to friends and family. Let’s face it, it may be time to take your technology passion from an interest to a full-fledged career.

Join the ranks of the top tech pros by becoming a network administer. It’s a career in the prestigious information technology (IT) field with solid growth and steady demand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics (BLS).

And the salary is pretty appealing too. The BLS reports the median annual salary for a network administrator was $81,100 in 2017.1 And don’t worry – even the bottom 10 percent of network administrator positions earn a healthy living, at $49,830 annually, which is more than the average salary for all workers, which was $37,690.

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. If that’s enough to grab your attention, keep reading as we share everything you need to know about becoming a network administrator.

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 manage communication systems to ensure information is flowing properly within an organization, according to the BLS.

Daily responsibilities may include:

  • Installing & 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 & telecommunication networks

What skills do you need to become a network administrator?

If you want to excel in IT, there are a handful of skills you’ll need to succeed and stand out from the crowd. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’ll need plenty of technical skills for this position. But soft skills are just as important to carry out your daily duties.

We used real-time job analysis software to examine nearly 200,000 network administrator jobs posted over the past year.2 The data helped us identify the top skills employers are seeking.

Here’s what we found:

Hard skills:

Soft skills:

System administration



Communication skills

System & network configuration

Organizational skills

Technical support

Problem solving

Software installation





Customer service


Project management

Not familiar with some of these technical skills for network administrators? 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?

Speaking of training, you’re probably curious about the education needed to enter the field. 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.

Many schools offer associate degrees that will help equip you with the knowledge and practical skills needed to successfully navigate complex networks and troubleshoot issues. The best part about this option is that you can earn your associate degree in as little as 21 months!3

Often times, the coursework in these programs will help prepare you to earn industry-specific certifications as well. For example, the Network Systems Administration program at Rasmussen College aligns directly with certifications from CompTIA 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.

What career advancement opportunities are available?

If you decide to pursue a network administration associate degree, 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 can build on it to advance your career.

Some schools offer a laddering structure for this. This allows students to earn one credential at a time, while building their way up to a higher degree.

So if you decide to continue advancing your degree, the credits you accumulated through your network administration associate program could be applied towards a bachelor’s degree in IT Management or Cyber Security. As a general rule of thumb, job opportunities and earning potential increase with education level.

So … what are you waiting for?

If the thought of becoming a network administrator has you excited about your future and its possibilities, then what are you waiting for? You could be 21 months away from launching the career of your dreams and finally being 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!

Learn how an Associate's degree in Network Systems Administration can set you up for success as a network administrator.


1 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.

2 Source: (Analysis of 197,622 Network Administrator postings from Feb. 1, 2015 – Jan. 31, 2016)

3 Completion 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 2018.

Kristina Ericksen

Kristina is a Digital Writer at Collegis Education where she creates informative content on behalf of Rasmussen College. She is passionate about the power of education and enjoys connecting students to bright futures.


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This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen College to support its educational programs. Rasmussen College may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit for a list of programs offered. External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college and Public Benefit Corporation.

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