What does it mean to be a Network Administrator?
Consider this – the majority of the technology utilized in organizations depends on networks and connectivity in some form. With the continuous wave of technological advancement, such as cloud computing and 5G, we cannot operate effectively at work or at home without the work of Network Administrators.
Network Administrators, also recognized as Systems Administrators or SysAdmins, hold a great deal of responsibility within any organization since they are responsible for daily management and maintenance over a company’s computer and network infrastructure. Think of them as the organization’s digital operations experts, who manage the flow of a workplace and optimizing day-to-day activities. They track and analyze various reports such as operation activity and department metrics and make necessary improvements.
That includes not only the conventional IT responsibilities in the installation and monitoring of standard computer hardware and software, but also having a baseline understanding of security systems and understanding how to monitor and troubleshoot those particular programs when anomalies are detected in the network. In this regard, Network Administrators are a perfect example of a role within the cyber-enabled workforce. While they are not primarily responsible for information security, they work directly with the company’s systems as the gatekeeper to users and user data.
Every organization, regardless of industry, needs a computer network, internet and integration processes in order to keep business running, while concurrently securing customer transactions, internal and external communications and unique processes. Additionally, the more modernization efforts a company invests in can shift the responsibility from managing servers to managing services and integrations. Optimizing existing systems requires skilled network personnel to ensure business objectives are met with minimal technical disruptions.
Day in the Life
SysAdmins are responsible for implementing, operating, and troubleshooting the organization’s network hardware and software – or simply put – to ensure that all systems function properly. Typical responsibilities include the following:
- Configure and maintain the organization’s internal computer network including managing virtual machines, network storage, and user permissions to the network.
- Manage network security tools, e.g., firewall, antivirus and intrusion detection systems.
- Identify, troubleshoot, solve and document network connectivity and performance issues.
- Monitor network performance and optimize the network for optimal speed and availability.
- Implement and maintain emergency backup and restore systems for mission-critical network servers.
- Regulate user access to sensitive files to protect against internal security breaches.
Most Valued Skills
To keep up with the continuous evolution of technology and software advancements, a successful network administrator should be flexible and adaptable to change. Moreover from a soft skills perspective, they feel comfortable being both a team player and a leader, have the ability to work independently, and interact effectively with multiple levels of the organization (especially with those who may be unaware of technical and security best practices).
As far as technical skills are concerned, Network Administrators should have fundamental knowledge of networking concepts – from network engineering, network operations and performance analysis. Due to the need of interoperability by organizations with more increasingly complex systems, multiple users, and the number of internal and external devices, Administrators must have foundational knowledge on best cybersecurity practices to detect anomalies and secure all devices on the network.
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In order to make it as a Network Administrator, you’re going to need to have a broad understanding of a variety of concepts and structures across all areas of networking, from network security to operating systems. With this in mind, it is helpful (and often required) that administrators earn one or more certifications including:
- Network Administrator
- Systems Administrator
- Network Systems Administrator
- Network Analyst
- Computer System Analyst
There are multiple avenues for growth for the Network Administrator. Higher level positions include: Data Center Manager, IT Director, Information Systems Director, and more. The knowledge and skills of a network administrator can be applied to other IT positions as well. Many network administrators go on to become IT Consultants, Web Developers, Systems Engineers, or Software Engineers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest report in 2018, the demand for Network Administrators is projected to grow by 5% through 2028. On Ziprecuiter, the average salary weighs in at $69,595, with some earning as much as $79,500. As of April 2020, there are currently over 17k jobs posted on both Indeed and LinkedIn.
Computer networks are a vital part of any organization. As companies look to improve their performance, scalability, and security, the demand for Network Administrators will continue to rise as they invest in better technology and network systems.
In order to create a more optimal user experience for customers, many have taken their business mobile. This in turn translates to an increased need for Network Administrators with mobile computing skills who can help businesses better connect with their employees and clientbase. Moreover, the Administrators’ career path is also expandable by the increasing need for qualified network security personnel since cyber attacks continue to grow in frequency, scope, and complexity.
Doesn’t Sound Like You?
If network administration doesn’t seem to speak to your career interests, then please check out our previous blog posts for our Cybersecurity Roles Series here:
- Incident Responder
- Malware Analyst
- Penetration Tester
- SOC Analyst
- Cybersecurity Auditor
- Threat Hunter
- Threat Intel Analyst
- Vulnerability Management Analyst