What Is the Average Network Administrator Salary? And 5 Other FAQs About This Tech Job

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As a self-proclaimed techie, you’ve heard plenty of talk about network administrator careers. You know these professionals are essential to maintaining the smooth operation of organizations’ computer networks, and you’ve heard rumors that they’re well paid for their expertise. But you’re not sold yet on becoming a network administrator.

The technology field is known for offering careers with attractive salaries and advancement opportunities, but you know not all tech careers are equal. As much as you’d love to add your brainpower to this growing industry, you need all the facts first—including the truth about a network administrator salary.

We don’t blame you for wanting all the details before making a career decision. We rounded up the latest salary data and spoke to network administrators working in the field to answer all your burning questions about this tech job.

What is the average network administrator salary?

We won’t make you wait to learn the answer to the question at the top of your mind! The median annual salary for network administrators in 2017 was $81,100, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1

A salary like that is nothing to scoff at, but a network administrator’s pay could be even higher depending on which industry they work in. Those in both the information and finance and the insurance sectors earned median annual salaries of more than $87,000, and those in computer systems design brought in more than $86,000.1

If being able to land a job is your concern, there’s good news. Network administrator positions are expected to grow by 20 percent through 2026!1 Thanks to the increase in cloud computing, the BLS predicts that network administrators will be an in-demand position for the foreseeable future.

What are the job duties of a network administrator?

If a network administrator’s salary has caught your attention, you probably want to know what these tech pros do all day. In a nutshell, they’re responsible for “supporting, configuring, maintaining and monitoring networks” for an organization, says Kacper Brzozowski, technical founder at Zety.

Broken down into daily tasks, that looks like “handling the network equipment and ensuring things aren’t overheating, and replacing equipment as it nears end of life,” says Marc Enzor, president of IT consulting firm Geeks 2 You. “Smaller organizations will rely on the network administrator to also provide server support and maintenance.”

The job description may sound simple, but it entails more than you might think. Network administrators have their organization relying on them to keep technology running smoothly, and that can sometimes mean thinking fast in high-pressure situations. “A network administrator has to wear many hats and be extremely nimble,” says Enzor. Brzozowski agrees, saying, “Making sure the system is secure and reacting quickly and appropriately to potential, hazardous problems is one of the most crucial duties.”

What’s the work environment like for network administrators?

Organizations in many different industries require the services of a network administrator. The BLS reports that most work a standard 40-hour workweek, and about one in five clock more than 40 hours per week to keep networks running as they should.1 Network administrators typically work directly for a company, where Brzozowski says they would most likely be employed as part of a larger organization’s IT team.

However, external network administrators who are self-employed or work for a consulting firm are becoming more common. “The IT industry has been moving towards outsourcing as of the last few years,” Enzor says. Network administrators who work for an outside company may have more flexibility in their work environment. “They can work from home, the contracted company’s office, the data center or the headquarter office.”

What skills does a network administrator need?

You know you have an affinity for technology, but you’re not sure whether your skill set matches what employers are looking for in their network administrators. Keeping up with the in-demand skills in this fast-changing industry can be a challenge! We analyzed more than 13,345 network administrator job postings to identify some of the top technical skills employers are seeking:2

Technical skills

  • Linux®
  • Microsoft Active Directory™
  • Wide Area Network (WAN) support
  • Virtualization tools
  • Windows® support
  • Hardware and software installation
  • Technical support
  • Cisco® networking products
  • Network troubleshooting

Technology-driven jobs obviously require technical skills and experience with certain software, but many people forget to consider the transferable skills that are also a vital part of the job. Even if the technical skills above aren’t in your wheelhouse yet, you might already have the transferable skills you need to do the job:2

Transferable skills

  • Troubleshooting
  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Planning
  • Collaboration
  • Research
  • Writing
  • Attention to detail

What education do network administrators need?

There’s no need to worry if you’re not feeling confident in these network administrator skills. That’s where a high-quality education comes in! This tech career requires at a minimum a certificate or Associate’s degree in Network Systems Administration, or a related field, according to the BLS.1 Even more job opportunities are available to those who hold a Bachelor’s degree.

Aspiring network administrators can expect to take classes in computer programming, networking and systems design. They may also choose to become certified by vendors like Microsoft or Cisco to prove their expertise.

What are some important qualities of a successful network administrator?

Beyond having the right skills and training, there are some characteristics that make a person more likely to find success as a network administrator. The ability to keep up with changing technology topped our experts’ lists. “Every year new technology comes out and the firewalls/network equipment vendors have been changing,” Enzor says. “A successful network administrator will be able to adapt and learn new technology quickly.”

Beyond adaptability, remaining cool in a high-pressure situation—and preventing those situations in the first place—is what makes a network administrator an irreplaceable part of a tech team. A successful network administrator should have “extremely high awareness for a potential network’s technical problems and threats” and the “ability to react quickly and effectively in alarming situations,” Brzozowski says.

If you think quickly on your feet and are a curious learner who’s not afraid of change, a network administration career could be right up your alley.

Don’t question your future

The answers to these FAQs have taken you one step closer to finding your place on the tech team. Now that you’ve seen the overview of this tech career—including the lowdown on a network administrator salary—dive deeper with our article What Does a Network Administrator Do?

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [information accessed December 26, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/. 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: Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 122,603 network administrator job postings, Dec. 01, 2017 - Nov. 30, 2018).
Linux is a registered trademark of The Linux Foundation.
Microsoft, Windows and Microsoft Active Directory are registered trademarks of Microsoft, Inc.
Cisco is a registered trademark of Cisco Systems, Inc.

Ashley Brooks

Ashley is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She believes in the power of words and knowledge and enjoys using both to encourage others on their learning journeys

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