Network and Computer Systems Administrators
|Recommended Degree Level||Bachelor|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||350,320|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.9%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||15,530|
What's needed: In order to work as a data network administrator, you must hold at least a B.S. degree in computer science or information science. If you want to work in a position where you install networks, you may also need training in electrical engineering. Many network data administrators also hold advanced degrees in computer science and complete regular continuing education courses.
What you study:
As a computer science student, you are likely to study all of the following:
- Principles of Programming
- Intro to Computer Science
- Algorithm Design and Analysis
- Computer Systems Design
- Software Design
A quick introduction into the data network administrator occupation. Slightly out of date but still a helpful overview. Produced for the US Department of Labor.
A Day in the Life
As a data network administrator, it is your job to design and maintain an organization's computer network. When you arrive at work in the morning, you check for any problems with the data network by physically inspecting server equipment and reviewing any phone messages employees have left you about network issues. There are no network problems so far, so you check diagnostics on the computer at your cubicle. You notice that data uploads are slowing down and troubleshoot the problem so that employees can send and receive the information quickly.
Later in the morning, you get a call from an employee who is having problems using the company's proprietary data input system. You gather basic information from the employee over the phone and access their desktop computer through a remote desktop program. You talk the employee through the data entry problem and help them understand how a program update you installed a few days ago has affected the program.
After you get off the phone, you realize that other employees will probably have questions about the changes to your company's program. You talk with the Vice President of IT and arrange a brief training session for all employees who use the data entry program. After lunch, you gather in a conference room and show the employees how to use the program's new features. You field questions and make sure that everyone knows how to reach you in case they still struggle with the program.
After you complete your presentation, you take another look at your diagnostics program and complete basic network administration tasks. You check with your IT colleagues to be sure that none of the tasks you are completing will interfere with systems that are currently in use. After all of the office's non-IT employees have gone home, you install general operating system updates on all of the company's computers and run one last diagnostic report before you head home for the day.
Certifications and Licensing
Most professionals who work in data network administration earn certifications in various programming and computer operation systems. These certifications are offered by Microsoft, Cisco, Apple, Red Hat and vendor-neutral certification bodies. They are designed to demonstrate advanced training in a certain area to potential employers.
Full-time versus part-time:
The work schedule for a data network administrator can be very demanding. You will need to get to work before most other employees in order to assess any system problems. You will also need to stay at work after most employees have left in order to complete data system and computer updates. However, you will generally receive long breaks during the day and will be well-compensated for working overtime.
As a data network administrator, you will spend the majority of your time in your office and on the grounds of the organization for which you work. If your company runs multiple locations, you may travel to these locations in order to perform installation, maintenance and troubleshooting tasks.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Network and Computer Systems Administrators: This Bureau of Labor Statistics handbook provides general information about careers in network and computer systems administration. A wealth of statistical information about hiring demands in this field and salary ranges is presented. However, aspiring data network administrators should also check more qualitative sources for in-depth information about jobs in this field.
- The League of Professional Systems Administrators: The LOPSA website offers chat rooms, forums and listings of individual LOPSA chapters nationwide. New data networking professionals will find the mentorship program offered through LOPSA particularly helpful to their professional development. Proteges can post listings for mentors on the website.
- Association of Information Technology Professionals: The AITP website offers knowledge resources, e-learning opportunities and a job board. While this site is aimed at IT professionals in general, prospective data network administrators will find a wide variety of resources tailored to their specific needs. Advanced learning materials are also provided for individuals who have experience in the field.