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What Network and Computer Systems Administrators Do About this section

Network and computer systems administrators
Administrators fix computer server problems.

Computer networks are critical parts of almost every organization. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of these networks. They organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.

Duties

Network and computer systems administrators typically do the following:

  • Determine an organization’s system needs and install network hardware and software
  • Make needed upgrades and repairs to networks and ensure that systems are operating correctly
  • Maintain network and computer system security
  • Evaluate and optimize network or system performance
  • Add users to a network, and assign and update security permissions on the network
  • Train users in the proper use of hardware and software
  • Interpret and solve problems when a user or an automated monitoring system alerts them that a problem exists

Administrators manage an organization’s servers and desktop and mobile equipment. They ensure that email and data storage networks work properly. They also make sure that employees’ workstations are working efficiently and stay connected to the central computer network. Some administrators manage telecommunication networks.

Administrators may help network architects design and analyze network models. They also participate in decisions about buying future hardware or software to upgrade their organization’s network. Some administrators provide technical support to computer users, and they also may supervise computer support specialists who help solve users’ problems.

Work Environment About this section

Network and computer systems administrators
Network and computer systems administrators work with both IT and non-IT staff.

Network and computer systems administrators held about 350,300 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of network and computer systems administrators were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 19%
Educational services; state, local, and private 10
Information 10
Finance and insurance 10
Management of companies and enterprises 7

Although many network and computer systems administrators are employed by firms in the computer systems design and related services industry, they work in a variety of settings. Some might administer systems and networks for financial firms, and others work in hospitals or local government offices.

Network and computer systems administrators work with many types of workers, including other IT workers, such as computer support specialists, database administrators, computer network architects, and computer and information systems managers.

Work Schedules

Most network and computer systems administrators work full time. Organizations depend on their computer networks, so administrators may need to work overtime to ensure that the networks are operating properly around the clock.

How to Become a Network and Computer Systems Administrator About this section

Network and computer systems administrators
Administrators evaluate network and system performance and determine how changes in the environment will affect them.

Most employers require network and computer systems administrators to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science. Others may require only a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree.

Education

Although some employers require a postsecondary certificate or an associate's degree, most require network and computer systems administrators to have a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as computer and information technology. There are degree programs that focus on computer network and system administration. However, because administrators work with computer hardware and equipment, a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering usually is acceptable as well. Programs in these fields frequently include classes in computer programming, networking, or systems design.

Because network technology is constantly changing, administrators need to keep up with the latest developments. Many continue to take courses throughout their careers and attend information technology (IT) conferences to keep up with the latest technology. Some businesses require that administrators have a master’s degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Companies generally require their network and computer systems administrators to be certified in the products they use. Certification programs usually are offered directly from vendors or from vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates the knowledge and the use of best practices that are required of network and computer systems administrators. Microsoft and Cisco offer some of the most common certifications.

Advancement

Network administrators can advance to become computer network architects. They can also advance to managerial jobs in information technology (IT) departments, such as computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Administrators need to evaluate networks and systems to make sure that they perform reliably and to anticipate new requirements as customers’ needs change.

Communication skills. Administrators must describe problems and their solutions to non-IT workers.

Multitasking skills. Administrators may have to work on many problems and tasks at the same time.

Problem-solving skills. Administrators must quickly resolve problems that arise with computer networks.

Pay About this section

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Median annual wages, May 2021

Computer occupations

$97,430

Network and computer systems administrators

$80,600

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $80,600 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,560, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $130,830.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for network and computer systems administrators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises $98,320
Finance and insurance 96,860
Information 94,980
Computer systems design and related services 83,760
Educational services; state, local, and private 77,620

Most network and computer systems administrators work full time. Organizations depend on their computer networks, so administrators may need to work overtime to ensure that the networks are operating properly around the clock.

Job Outlook About this section

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Computer occupations

13%

Total, all occupations

8%

Network and computer systems administrators

5%

 

Employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations.

Despite limited employment growth, about 24,900 openings for network and computer systems administrators are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Demand for information technology (IT) workers should continue to grow as firms invest in newer, faster technology and mobile networks. Employment growth also is expected as the use of IT in healthcare increases. However, an increase in cloud computing could raise the productivity of network administrators, slowing their employment growth across many industries.

Employment projections data for network and computer systems administrators, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Network and computer systems administrators

15-1244 350,300 369,100 5 18,800 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about computer careers, visit

Association for Computing Machinery

CompTIA

IEEE Computer Society

For information about opportunities for women pursuing information technology careers, visit

National Center for Women & Information Technology

O*NET

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

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