If you have always thought of yourself working hands-on with computers and networks, then a career as a network administrator might be the exact path you are looking for. Not only does it put you in a challenging, interesting career, but now is also a great time to work as a network administrator because there are a number of high-paying jobs in the field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a network administrator is $82,050, and the field is expected to grow by 6 percent by 2026. If career growth is something you are looking for, becoming a network administrator puts you in a good position to move up to some roles with even higher pay:
- Network architect: median salary of more than $100,000 per year, according to the BLS
- Information security analyst: median salary of more than $98,000 per year, according to the BLS
- Information systems manager: median salary of more than $140,000 per year, according to the BLS
However, it takes more than wanting to work with computers to be happy as a network administrator. So let’s take a closer look at what a day in the life of someone with this job is like.
A Day in the Life of a Network Administrator
If you look at a job posting for a network administrator, it will likely say something along the lines of, “Responsible for keeping the organization’s computer network up to date and operating to support organizational goals.”
However, that merely speaks to the broad strokes. There is so much more that goes into the day-to-day operations than just maintaining the status quo. As a network administrator, you may find yourself:
- Troubleshooting issues with the servers, desktops, and infrastructure in your network: They may be small issues that you deal with easily, or they may require more investigation and problem-solving.
- Addressing security concerns on the network: On some days, it may be time to patch software or hardware; on other days, you may need to review event logs. Some days will allow you to look into new security solutions to protect your network, and there will be times when you will have to respond to an alert or event that may indicate an attack against your network.
- Help users be more productive: As a network administrator, you likely won’t be serving as the first line of technical support. However, you will have the opportunity to help users both indirectly and directly. The solutions you implement will help your coworkers do their job more efficiently and effectively. Training them on how to use the technology you implement allows you to get in front of your users and find out how you can better help them as well.
The Skill Set of a Network Administrator
Working as a network administrator, you need to have a good set of soft skills as well as the right hard skills. Because a majority of the job requires you to solve problems, you need to have the ability to think critically. Problem-solving skills cannot be only reactive in this job, though. You need to be able to spot issues that may cause a problem well in advance so you can put the appropriate solutions to work before the network resources start to experience failures.
Of course, a good network administrator needs the necessary technology skills to accompany these soft skills. The administration of local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN) is the foundation of this role. You will need to know how to plan, configure, and maintain LANs and WANs as a minimum skill. With most networks having a wireless component, a strong understanding of Wi-Fi technology deployment and security is also important, as is an understanding of the different endpoints you will be dealing with. You will need to know how desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and any other endpoints will fit into your network. They all need to connect and communicate with one another under secure conditions. Finally, you will need to have a basic understanding of security concepts. Different appliances and software used to secure your network may cause disruptions or introduce vulnerabilities if not configured properly.
Get the Right Training
Although it is possible to learn on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, “Companies generally require their network and computer systems administrators to be certified in the products they use.” The experience you gain learning on the job is a perk; however, there is a reason so many hiring managers look for certain certifications. Getting the right training will help you earn some of the industry's most recognizable certifications, such as CompTIA’s A+ or Network+, Cisco’s ICND or CCNA, and Microsoft’s MCSA server certifications. The quickest route to these certifications is through a postsecondary training provider. There are degrees that focus on networking; however, they take years to complete and do not always prepare you for the certification exams that show you understand the skills required to run a network effectively.
Network administration is an exciting career because each day offers you the opportunity to work with something new. As your career grows, it provides you with a number of different options for specialization. However, you need to take the first step. That starts with getting the right training. Contact us to see how you can enhance your skills to become an expert network administrator today.