Network administrators make sure the computer networks of an organization are secure and working well.
A network administrator is an IT professional ensures that an organization’s computer networks—groups of computers that share information with one another—are operating to meet the needs of the organization. They can maintain and troubleshoot computer networks, and employ security principles to keep networks secure.
Some tasks you might find in a network administrator’s job description include:
Install, configure, and maintain network hardware and software such as routers, firewalls, and switches
Protect networks from unauthorized users through physical and technical means
Set up and maintain virtual private networks (VPN)
Resolve network connectivity issues for other employees
Maintain and troubleshoot storage networks
Network administrators often have job descriptions that are similar to systems administrators. If you want to know how they can differ slightly, learn more about systems administrators.
A network administrator in makes an average salary of $69,187 in the US, according to Glassdoor data from June 2021 .
Jobs are growing for network administrators—the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that network administrator positions will grow at four percent between 2019 and 2029, which is as fast as the average growth rate for all jobs .
As a network specialist, you’ll want to have a knowledge of basic networking skills. A networking certification can help you gain necessary skills and show employers your capabilities. You can also get your start in help desk roles and work your way up to being a network administrator.
Here are some common skills found in network administrator positions.
Knowledge of different types of networks: Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs), Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and sometimes Storage Area Networks (SANs) are each different types of networks. Though some jobs may call for more experience in one over another, having a foundational knowledge of what various networks are and how to configure them will be central to your work as a network administrator.
Understanding of network security components: These might include firewalls, VPNs, and access control. Knowing what common attacks are and the appropriate response to them will be important as a network administrator.
Familiarity with servers: Upgrading and configuring servers is a common ability sought after in network administrators. Windows and Linux servers are common in the U.S.
Communication and teamwork: As a network administrator, you’ll likely be working in a team or with other members of your organization to ensure computers and systems are up and running. Being able to communicate problems and solutions with other people is a valuable skill to have.
The following certifications can be helpful to those in the beginning stages of their networking career.
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): The CCNA validates your skills in Cisco network solutions, basic IP addressing, and other network fundamentals. Though exam takers usually have some experience working with Cisco networking products, a training program can prepare you for the exam if you're starting from scratch.
CompTIA Network+: The CompTIA Network+ certification covers a wide range of networking basics, such as security, troubleshooting, and infrastructure. It is a solid option for those looking for entry-level networking positions, and is generally considered more fundamental than the CCNA. The Network+ can be a good option if you're completely new to networking concepts.
If you’re looking to really invest in your future, a degree may boost your earning potential and enhance your professional growth. An associate or bachelor’s degree in computer science can be a great way to get on track to becoming a network administrator, or other IT professional.
The Google IT Support Professional Certificate introduces learners to the basics of information technology (IT) work, including several concepts key to networking administration like troubleshooting and TCP/IP communications. Learners who complete the program receive an industry-recognized professional certificate and can go on to take the CompTIA A+ exam.
Many IT professionals get their start in help desk positions—entry-level IT jobs in which you'll resolve computer issues that arise for companies and their employees, such as IT specialist, help desk technician, help desk analyst, or IT technician. These positions can give you a broad introduction to the world of IT, and give you some hands-on experience dealing with network issues. Once you have some experience, you can look to transition to a networking position.
Already in a help desk position? If you have an entry-level IT job but are hoping to switch into network administration, try building up your network skills. You can do this through hands-on experience, or by earning a network certification like the CCNA. You can also approach your employer to see if they'll let you take on more network-related tasks, or shadow network professionals at your organization.
Get ready for an interview by reviewing potential questions. Here are a few basic ones you might run into:
What is a firewall and how would you implement one?
What is a proxy server?
What is a switch?
What types of networks are you familiar with?
Describe a network challenge that you’ve faced and how you overcame it.
Preparing for IT interviews: IT jobs are highly technical, so an interviewer will probably ask you a combination of technical questions and personal behavioral questions. Have answers ready for both. Prepare professional stories of how you’ve worked through networking solutions, of your successes, or when things didn’t go so well (and what you did about it). Practice explaining networking processes out loud. It’ll help you feel prepared and show employers that you’re serious about the job.
Network administrators are crucial to any organization that uses computers. As a network administrator, you’ll be a key part of making sure employees have access to the networks they need while keeping unauthorized players out of the picture.
1. Glassdoor. "Network Administrator Salary, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/network-administrator-salary-SRCH_KO0,21.htm." Accessed June 29, 2021.
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Network and Computer Systems Administrators, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm." Accessed June 29, 2021.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.