System Administrator Salary: 2024 Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn how much you can earn as a system administrator based on factors such as education, experience, location, job title, and industry.

[Featured Image] A system administrator is in front of their computer on their desk, researching new jobs and system administrator salaries.

System administrators can work for computer network design companies, financial institutions, or other industries to coordinate the systems needed to operate networks and computers for an organization. As an administrator, you’re typically responsible for designing and managing computer operating systems based on an organization’s needs, maintaining those systems, and training others to operate the systems. System administrator positions will continue growing as companies and organizations invest in newer and faster technology.

This article explores the system administrator role, along with various related IT systems administration jobs, and the various factors that can impact your earning potential.

What is a system administrator?

In this role, you will oversee the operation of computer or network systems for an organization. You may work on installing and maintaining computer systems or help with network segments or other data communications systems.

System administration vs. network administration

Some organizations might use system administrator and network administrator interchangeably, and there are many overlapping responsibilities. But there’s technically a difference. System administration focuses on servers and computer systems, while network administrators work more specifically with network-related tasks and equipment, like setting up routing, IP addresses, and maintaining Local Area Networks (LAN).

If you’re in a smaller organization, these responsibilities might be folded into one role, while larger organizations may tend to differentiate them. Since systems and networks are often intertwined, it’s not rare to see job descriptions that require knowledge of both.


As a system administrator, you’ll determine an organization’s computer system’s needs and devise a plan to create an operating system, server, or software that meets those needs. You can also maintain those systems or evaluate them on a regular basis for potential upgrades or changes based on the developing needs of an organization. You will oversee adding users, updating software as the network changes, and using your critical thinking and problem-solving skills to identify and fix issues.

How much does a system administrator make?

As of August 2023, system administrators make a median annual income of $89,527.62, according to Lightcast™ [1]. Various job listing sites show the average yearly pay for system administrators ranges from $80,600 to $89,528.

Here are the base salary ranges given by five different organizations that track system administrator salaries: 2Zippia 3Glassdoor 4Indeed 5Lightcast™ 1

Factors that affect a system administrator’s salary

Factors like your education level and experience in the field can boost your potential computer system administrator earnings. Your location could also impact your salary due to the demand for system administrators or the cost of living in a particular area. Some industry sectors will earn more than others, depending on your particular interests or specialties.


System administrators usually need a bachelor’s degree, although some employers may accept an associate and others require a master’s. Common degree fields include computer and information technologies. Additionally, computer system administrators should also consider certification for the products they use.

Here are the average system administrator salaries based on education level, according to Zippia as of June 2023 [6]:

  • Associate degree: $76,033

  • Bachelor's degree: $82,424

  • Master's degree: $84,844


Your previous experience as a system administrator can impact your salary, as more experience can lead to a higher annual income. As of August 2023, here are the estimated average base salaries you can expect based on your previous experience, according to Glassdoor [4]:

  • 0-1 year: $64,527

  • 1-3 years: $70,158

  • 4-6 years: $74,651

  • 7-9 years: $78,978

  • 10-14 years: $84,806

  • 15+ years: $93,308


Where you live can affect how much you can make as a system administrator because of factors such as the cost of living, demand for work in the area, and other regional issues.

Here are the five top-paying states (by average salary) for system administrators, based on data collected by BLS in May 2022 [7]:

  • District of Columbia.: $116,470

  • Nevada: $113,140

  • New Jersey: $112,140

  • California: $112,080

  • Virginia: $109,410

Some cities may have higher earnings than others based on the cost of living or the number of system administrator positions. You can earn more if you live in these areas or are able to move to a region with higher earning potential.

For example, the San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara (California) area has the highest average income at $151,500 for network and computer system administrators. In Silicon Valley, workers in the San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward area can earn an average annual income of $127,320, according to the BLS [7].

On the East Coast, a system administrator in the New York, Newark, and Jersey City area can earn an average annual income of $115,960, while system administrators working in the Atlanta metro area earn an average salary of $105,130 [7].


Income can vary from industry to industry, with workers in some fields earning higher salaries as system administrators than others. For example, as of May 2021, working with finance and insurance can yield a median annual income of $96,860. Jobs at information companies can earn you $94,980 in median yearly salary, according to the BLS [8].

Glassdoor also lists the following five industries as the highest-paying (by median pay) for system administrators in August 2023. Note that Glassdoor includes additional compensation in its figures, such as stocks, cash, bonuses, and other benefits along with base pay, while BLS, for example, only includes base pay [4]:

  • Energy, mining, and utilities: $101,171

  • Financial services: $99,469

  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology: $97,676

  • Telecommunications: $95,557

  • Retail and wholesale: $94,986

Other positions in the networks and computer systems field can help you gain additional experience as a system administrator, or you can find a job that better fits your interests if you want to specifically become a system administrator.

A computer network architect can design and build communications networks that system administrators take over and maintain. Your job includes creating plans for data communications networks, presenting network plans to management, and upgrading hardware and software. You can earn a median annual wage of $126,025.72 as a computer network architect, according to Lightcast™ [9].

A computer hardware engineer can create plans and build the hardware needed for computer networks and components. You’re responsible for designing computer hardware, testing the designs, and updating existing equipment. Expect to earn a median annual wage of $131,170.66 as a computer hardware engineer, according to Lightcast™ [10].

Job outlook

The BLS expects network and computer system administrator positions to grow 3 percent from 2021 to 2031, which is below the national average of 5 percent for all occupations but still showing growth. Expect a total of 11,300 positions added to the field during that decade [11].

Positions for system administrators will continue to grow because of the need to replace workers aging out and retiring from the workforce. Additionally, system administrators are also needed to adapt to advancing technology and upgrade networks as systems get older.

Getting started with Coursera

Go from beginner to job-ready for a role in IT with the Google IT Support Professional Certificate on Coursera.

Learn to identify risks and protect systems you're responsible for as an administrator with the University of Colorado’s Cybersecurity for Business Specialization, or consider IBM’s Private Cloud Management on IBM Power Systems to learn more about cloud management and building a cloud-based environment.

Article sources


Lightcast™ Analyst. "Occupation Summary for Network and Computer systems administrators." Accessed August 30, 2023.

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