How to Become a Network Administrator

If you are a natural at operating and troubleshooting computer technology, you might be wondering how to become a network administrator. Businesses and organizations in all industries use computer networks on a daily basis. Network administrators are the information technology (IT) professionals who establish, maintain and modify a company’s computer networks, including both hardware and software components.

Network administrators must have a breadth and depth of IT knowledge to be successful. They must be able to differentiate between different kinds of networks, such as wide area networks known as WANs, local area networks known as LANs and intranets. Network administrators must understand not only how these networks function and how to set them up, but also which kind of network will best fulfill a company’s goals and needs. They must be comfortable handling the hardware, or physical components, of the computer network, including routers and switches.

Before implementing a computer network, a network administrator will listen to the company’s objectives and select the type of network that will best accomplish the desired tasks. A network administrator will acquire the necessary hardware and software components and plan and install the network. Once a network is in place, network administrators may be responsible for repairing and upgrading the network, monitoring performance and security and training employees to use the network.

To begin preparing for a career in network administration, candidates should pursue a formal education in information technology, computer science or a related field. While a few jobs may be available for candidates who have obtained only a certificate or an associate’s degree, most aspiring network administrators earn a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree to improve their marketability. Some schools even offer bachelor’s degree programs in network administration specifically, usually as a subfield of information technology. IT is a dynamic field, with new technologies constantly emerging. To be successful, a network administrator has to be willing to continue learning for the entire duration of their careers, either on their own or through formal courses. To improve their skillsets and job prospects, network administrators may wish to seek certification in particular computer products, tools or brands.

Network administrators earn a median salary of $69,160 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Actual wages vary by employer, education, experience, location and industry. Network administrators in certain industries may earn more. For example, these professionals earn a median annual salary of $72,660 in the finance and insurance industry and $74,230 in computer systems design. Network administrators also enjoy a very positive job outlook, with the BLS expecting career opportunities in this profession to increase by 28 percent over a ten-year period, faster than other computer professions and about twice as fast as all occupations. If you enjoy working with computers and can analyze and resolve problems, knowing how to become a network administrator could be your first step toward an exciting career in the rapidly-growing field of computers and information technology.

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