What Is a Network Administrator? A Career Guide

Network administrators make sure the computer networks of an organization are secure and working well.
Network administrator works on a laptop in an open plan office

A network administrator 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. 

Some tasks you might find in a network administrator’s job description include:

  • Installing, configuring, and maintaining network hardware and software such as routers, firewalls, and switches

  • Protecting networks from unauthorized users through physical and technical means

  • Setting up and maintaining virtual private networks (VPN) 

  • Resolving network connectivity issues for other employees

  • Working with 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.

Network administrator salary and job outlook

The average base salary for a network administrator in the US is $73,166, according to job search website Indeed [1]. 

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 [2].

How to be a network administrator

Skills to be a network administrator

These are 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.

Network administrator certifications

The following certifications are geared for entry-level or those in the beginning stages of their career. 

  • 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 positions as network administrators. 

CompTIA—short for the Computing Technology Industry Association—is an information technology advocacy organization. They administer several entry-level certifications, including the CompTIA Network+, A+, and Security+ certifications.

  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): The Cisco Certified Network Associate certification validates your skills in Cisco network solutions, basic IP addressing, and other network fundamentals. Though exam takers usually have one or more years of experience working with Cisco networking products, a training program can prepare you for the exam as well.

  • Google IT Support Professional Certificate: 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. This makes it a certificate that is broadly applicable to many different jobs in the IT sector.

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.

Interview questions for network administrator positions

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.

Getting started as a network administrator

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.

You can get started learning the basics of IT work with the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. Want to explore other IT careers? Read about other entry-level IT jobs.

Related articles

Article sources

1. Indeed. "Network Administrator Salary, https://www.indeed.com/career/network-administrator/salaries." Accessed March 26, 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 March 26, 2021.

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