What Is a Network Administrator? A Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Network administrators enjoy a fast-paced work environment that varies daily. Learn more about what this exciting position entails and how you can enter this profession.

[Featured image] A network administrator works with a colleague on a laptop in an open-plan office.

A network administrator is an IT professional who ensures that an organisation’s computer networks—groups of digital devices that share information with one another—are operating to meet the needs of the organisation. They can maintain and troubleshoot computer networks, and employ security principles to keep networks secure.

What does a network administrator do?

Network administrators are involved in many functions of maintaining the digital network, and typically are responsible for designing, building, supporting, and maintaining the network. 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

  • Developing ongoing budgets for IT support and presenting them to company departments 

  • Assembling and supporting updated systems

  • Protect networks from unauthorised users through physical and technical means

  • Communicating across departments and creating detailed reports of findings

  • 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 similiar to systems administrators. 

System administration vs network administration

Some organisations might interchangeably use system administrator and network administrator because of their overlapping responsibilities. But there’s technically a difference. System administration focuses on servers and computer systems. 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 organisation, these responsibilities might be folded into one role, whilst larger organisations tend to differentiate them. Since systems and networks are often intertwined, it’s not rare to see job descriptions that require knowledge of both.

Network administrator salary 

According to Glassdoor, a network administrator makes an average salary of ₹5,00,000 in India as of May 2023 [1]. Exact salaries will vary depending on location, experience, company size, and job responsibilities. For example, senior network administrators report an average annual salary of ₹8,43,247.

How to become a network administrator

As a network specialist, you’ll want to have knowledge of basic networking skills. Typically, employers look for relevant degrees in quantitative backgrounds, such as computer science, IT, software engineering, or electronic engineering. However, gaining a professional certification, completing an apprenticeship, or working in an entry-level position may be a good start to becoming a network administrator.  

Key network administrator skills

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 require more experience in one over another, foundational knowledge about various networks 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 for a network administrator.

  • Familiarity with servers: Upgrading and configuring servers is a common ability sought after in network administrators. Windows is the most common operating system for desktops in India, and Android tops the list for mobile operating systems.

  • Communication and teamwork: As a network administrator, you’ll likely be working in a team or with other members of your organisation 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.

Common network administrator certifications

Certifications are also great for demonstrating your network skills and learning foundational knowledge in a structured environment. Because much of our communication is global, having an internationally recognised certification can help ensure you are able to work with most common networks and across different companies.

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 programme 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 entry-level networking positions and is considered more fundamental than the CCNA. This certification can be a good option if you're completely new to networking concepts.

If you’re looking to 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.

Looking for a broader introduction to IT work?

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 programme receive an industry-recognised professional certificate and can go on to take the CompTIA A+ exam.


Entry-level network administrator roles

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, 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 organisation.

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 behavioural questions. Have answers ready for both. Prepare professional stories of how you’ve worked through networking solutions, your successes, or when things didn’t go so well (and what you did about it). Practise explaining networking processes out loud. It’ll help you feel prepared and show employers you’re serious about the job.

Getting started as a network administrator

Network administrators are crucial to any organisation that uses computers. You can get started learning the basics of IT work with the Google IT Support Professional Certificate available on Coursera. With this certificate, you will be introduced to day-to-day IT support tools and knowledge, commonly used software systems such as Linux, and gain job-ready skills that can help you land your first position. 

Article sources

  1. Glassdoor. “Network Administrator Salaries in India, https://www.glassdoor.co.in/Salaries/network-administrator-salary-SRCH_KO0,21.htm.” Accessed May 3, 2023.

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