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Computer Systems Administrator

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Overall Score
(6.4 out of 10)

Number of Jobs

42,900

Median Salary

$72,560

Unemployment Rate

3.9 percent

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This Job is Ranked in
Best Technology Jobs #10
The 100 Best Jobs #52

A network and computer systems administrator's greatest contribution is maintaining an organization's work flow and keeping its lines of communication open. This work is not for the faint of heart. In a single day, he or she may encounter stacks of servers, dozens of crisscrossing network cables and major malfunctions with the hardware and software that runs the company's local area and wide area networks. Since companies depend on their networks for so much of their work, problems must be corrected swiftly and completely. Aside from identifying network issues and fixing them, computer systems administrators must also make updates to all equipment and software so they're current. Another important aspect of the job is ensuring email and data storage networks work properly and employee workstations are connected to the central computer network. They also set up and maintain an organization's computer servers and train new users on how to use relevant hardware and software. Some network and computer systems administrators also manage telecommunication networks so employees can work from home or on the road, which is becoming more and more important as new technologies allow employees to connect outside the office.

As its low unemployment rate of 4.1 percent indicates, this is an in-demand profession that's expected to grow as employers invest in new technology and faster mobile networks. More administrators will also be needed to implement upgraded security measures to protect workplace computer systems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of about 11.7 percent between 2012 and 2022, which should lead to approximately 42,900 new positions over this period.

Salary

Network and computer systems administrators earned a median of $72,560 in 2012, or approximately $34.88 per hour, according to the BLS. The best-paid 10 percent earned more than $115,180 in 2012, while the lowest-paid made less than $44,330. The highest-paid in the industry work in Boulder, Colo., San Jose, Calif., and the Washington. D.C., metropolitan area.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $92,370
Median $72,560
25th Percentile $56,470

Training

Network and computer systems administrator jobs often require a bachelor's degree – typically in computer or information science, although sometimes a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering is acceptable. Coursework in computer programming, networking or systems design will be helpful. Some businesses require that an administrator get a master’s degree, while others are willing to accept an associate's degree or professional certification along with related work experience. Completing certification programs and otherwise keeping up with new technologies is also important. "It's imperative to stay current with technology trends and changes by reading blogs, technology magazines and attending conferences,” says Simran Sandhu, manager of network infrastructure at Adobe. "It's also important to study and learn the basics of network technology and acquire an acute understanding of how information flows. Be able to identify key services such as DNS, DHCP and firewalls, and define the roles they play in a network infrastructure."

Reviews & Advice

Joining professional organizations like the Association for Computing Machinery can help you keep up with technological developments. Completing certification programs, such as those offered by Microsoft, Red Hat and Cisco, can give you an advantage for some positions. Sajith Balan, a network engineer for Microsoft Network Design and Deployment, has a master's degree in computer science and completed certificate programs from a variety of companies including Cisco and Juniper. "That really helped me to get a good grip on the role that I have today. Certifications will help you to get your CV chosen over another," he says. "There are a lot of new technologies that are coming into the market every day, so you have to be conscious of what is happening, and you need to keep learning. Keep your certifications updated."

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility good Above Average
Stress Level fair Average
Flexibility fair Average
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Last updated by Nathan Hellman.


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