Description of job: Install, configure, and support an organization’s local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), and Internet systems or a segment of a network system. Monitor network to ensure network availability to all system users and may perform necessary maintenance to support network availability. May monitor and test Web site performance to ensure Web sites operate correctly and without interruption. May assist in network modeling, analysis, planning, and coordination between network and data communications hardware and software. May supervise computer user support specialists and computer network support specialists. May administer network security measures.
As a critical part of almost every organization, computer networks require the oversight of an information technology —or IT—professional. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of these networks. They start by ensuring an organization’s needs will be met by a system before setting it up, then install hardware and software, and make ongoing upgrades and repairs as needed. Their domain includes local area networks, wide area networks, and other data communication systems. These IT professionals have frequent interaction with other IT staff, and with non-IT staff as well. Most network and computer systems administrators work full time. Organizations depend heavily on continuous service from their computer networks, so when issues arise, administrators may work overtime hours. Network and computer systems administrators need a combination of communication skills— to describe problems and their solutions to non-IT workers— and problem solving and computer skills to actually break down and resolve network issues. Although some employers require only a certificate or an associate’s degree to enter the field, most require a bachelor’s degree in a major related to computer or information science. Because this occupation includes a focus on working with computer hardware and equipment, a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering is usually acceptable as well.
Related Careers:Computer Network Architects, Computer Network Support Specialists, Computer Systems Engineers/Architects, Information Technology Project Managers, Telecommunications Engineering Specialists, Computer User Support Specialist, and Computer Network Support Specialist
Sources: Minnesota CAREERwise & CareerOneStop
Typical Work Tasks
People who work in this career often:
- Create electronic data backup to prevent loss of information.
- Implement security measures for computer or information systems.
- Install computer hardware.
- Resolve computer network problems.
- Resolve computer software problems.
- Troubleshoot issues with computer applications or systems.
- Identify information technology project resource requirements.
- Update knowledge about emerging industry or technology trends.
- Collect data about customer needs.
- Conduct research to gain information about products or processes.
Typical Working Conditions
- Working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions.
- Using e-mail.
- Working with a group or team.
- The freedom to determine tasks, priorities, and goals.
- Freedom to make decisions without supervision.
- Meeting strict deadlines.
Tools & Technology used by Network Administrators
Source: Minnesota CAREERwise
Most Important Skills for Network Administrators
- Evaluating a System or Organization—Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Reading—Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Solving Complex Problems—Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Troubleshooting—Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
- Listening—Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Making Decisions—Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Monitoring Performance—Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Programming Computers —Writing computer programs for various purposes.
- Speaking—Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Thinking Critically—Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Most Important Knowledge Areas for Network Administrators
- Computers and Electronics—Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Customer and Personal Service—Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Engineering and Technology—Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
- English Language—Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Telecommunications—Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
- Mathematics—Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Education and Training—Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Administration and Management—Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Clerical—Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
- Design—Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Different careers may be a good fit for your personality or interests. This career is:
- Realistic—Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Investigative—Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
Source: Minnesota CAREERwise
|Wages Per Hour For Network Administrators (MN)|
Low indicates 25% of workers earn less and 75% earn more. Median indicates 50% of workers earn less and 50% earn more. High indicates 75% of workers earn less and 25% earn more.
Source: Minnesota DEED Occupational Employment Statistics Tool, Northwest Region
This career is seeing high growth compared to other careers. There will be a 5% growth new for Network Administrators to meet market demand between 2018-2028. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.
Source: Minnesota CAREERwise
This career is best for those with at least an Associate’s degree, and most professionals earn a Bachelor’s degree. This career does not require a license, but certifications can help you move ahead.
View the local post-secondary education options for this career from Central Lakes College.
Spotlight on Central Lakes College
- Why consider CLC?
- Virtual Campus Tours: Brainerd Campus, Staples Campus
- Learn more about the CLC Honors Program.
- Attend CLC, and you may never need to buy a textbook.
If you have a physical, mental, developmental, or cognitive condition that requires educational support, learn about support options at CLC.
Helpful High School Courses
Examples of helpful classes that help you prepare for this career:
- Algebra I and II
- Analytic Geometry
- Graphic Arts
- Network Systems
- Technical Writing
- Web Page Design
Source: Minnesota CAREERwise
Explore these 360 degree views of CTC‘s computer network infrastructure.
Visit the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence for more information about this career, as well as links to education and training programs in Minnesota.
Information Technology (US Careers Online)
Network Administrator (CareerOneStop)
Info Systems ( (BC’s Career Trek)
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