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Is Becoming a Network Administrator a Good Career Choice?

Updated: January 29, 2024 | Published: March 23, 2023

Updated: January 29, 2024

Published: March 23, 2023

Network administrator copy

Are you interested in becoming a network administrator? Maybe you’ve heard it mentioned before but need some more information before you make your next move. We’ll help you understand what a network administrator is, what a network administrator does, and how to become a network administrator.  

What is Network Administration?

To start, network administration is the process of maintaining and protecting an organization’s network. A network administrator is an IT professional responsible for managing and maintaining an organization’s network. They ensure that everything is functioning efficiently and effectively to provide the support that an organization needs. 

Basic job responsibilities include: performing regular network maintenance, solving any network problems that may arise, installing new software and programs, and implementing routine security measures. Responsibilities and job duties vary depending on the organization’s wants and needs.

What Skills Should a Network Administrator Possess?

In order to become a network administrator, there are various skills needed to ensure that the job is done correctly and the network is running smoothly. Here are some of the most important skills needed:

  1. Communication skills: Not only will a network administrator need to communicate with computers, but he or she will also need to communicate with his or her coworkers. Additionally, he or she must be able to communicate with both managers and clients and be able to discuss both technical and non-technical issues clearly.
  2. Time management skills: Because there are many different ongoing tasks, a network administrator must be able to balance his or her time effectively to ensure that everything gets done on time. Deciding how time is spent and on what to ensure productivity is extremely important to the position.
  3. Customer service skills: Oftentimes a network administrator will have to speak to clients directly and will need to provide them with high-quality service. It’s important that the person has patience and good listening skills, can communicate effectively, and is able to solve problems.
  4. Security experience: Understanding how to operate security systems is essential to this role given that much of the job entails protecting a network against any potential threats. Knowing how to combat any potential threats and keep the network safe is essential.
  5. Detail-oriented: A network administrator must keep thorough records of security protocols, network configurations, and other information to maintain the overall wellness of the network. 
  6. Knowledge of multiple coding languages: Network administrators should have a solid understanding of coding languages so that they are able to troubleshoot issues that may arise. Java, Python, Perl, and C++ are some commonly used coding languages that prospective network administrators should be familiar with.

How To Become a Network Administrator 

Having the knowledge of how to become a network administrator can set you in the right direction for a career in the technology industry. Here are the steps you’ll want to take to get started:

1. Determine a focus

There are various options to focus on within the technology realm, including system security, systems analysis, data analysis, and software development.

Once you’ve established which area you’ll be focusing on, you can better your skills and demonstrate a thorough understanding of the field. You can look for internships, take courses, or look for other positions that similarly align with that focus. Determining a focus isn’t necessary, but it can definitely help steer you in the right direction.

2. Earn a bachelor’s degree

Most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in network administration or a related field although some may consider an associate degree as the minimum requirement. By taking the right courses, you’ll gain a great deal of knowledge in other technology degrees and information systems which is incredibly beneficial for your career path. Common majors for network administrators include:

  1. Network administration
  2. Software engineering
  3. Computer science
  4. Network management
  5. Information technology

3. Get Certified

Getting certified in specific technological programs in addition to having your degree can help strengthen your level of expertise and can also help make you look like a more experienced candidate. Here are some of the more common certifications: 

  1. Red Hat Certified Engineer
  2. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert
  3. Cisco Certified Network Professional
  4. Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
  5. CompTIA’s Network+
  6. Network and Application Security

The University of the People offers a certificate in network and application security to help you advance your career prospects. Check it out here.

4. Land an Internship

Finding an internship within the field is a great way to jump right in and gain valuable experience. With an internship, you’ll strengthen your skills, learn from experienced coworkers, get to experience the job in real-time, and ultimately decide whether or not it is something you want to pursue. While most internships are unpaid, sometimes internships can turn into paid internships or long-term positions at the organization after interning long enough and proving your worth. Additionally, when a potential employer sees this on your resume, he or she will likely be impressed. Colleges and universities usually offer internships to their students, so that’s a great place to start looking once you’re ready to.

5. Apply for Jobs

While some employers won’t require you to have prior experience as a network administrator, many prefer you to have experience within the technology field. A great way to get your foot in the door is to find an entry-level job in the IT department so that you can gain valuable experience in the industry and add it to your resume. 

Salary and Job Outlook 

In 2021, the median annual wage for network administrators in the United States was around $80,600 per year, or $38.75 per hour. However, factors such as experience, education, and location can also have an impact on this. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for network administrators is expected to grow by 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is in line with the average projected growth rate for most occupations. 

Closing Thoughts 

If being a network administrator is something that interests you and you have the right skills, you’ll definitely want to start doing more extensive research about what specific qualifications you’ll need, what certifications and degrees to pursue, and when to start applying for jobs. 

Remember that there are various steps to become a network administrator and that you may want to consider starting with an entry-level IT job. If you’re interested in earning your education online, check out the University of the People’s computer science programs that are entirely online, tuition-free, and accredited.