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What does a Network Administrator do?

If you consider yourself organized, efficient and logical, and you enjoy knowing all about the latest computers and system configuration options, think about steering your career into the direction of computer network administration as a network administrator.

network administrator

A network administrator organizes and monitors wired or wireless LANs (local area networks), WANs (wide area networks), GANs (global area networks), network segments, and the Internet and intranet configuration within an organization. These computer professionals perform many functions, including individual system troubleshooting, analyzing system problems, gauging network functionality, and installing and upgrading software and hardware throughout the company.

Network administrators continually assess company and user needs and requirements in order to reinforce efficiency and system vigor, for both individual employees and the organization as a whole.

Where do network administrators work?

As a network administrator, you can find work in small companies or huge corporations (or somewhere right in between). Government groups, school districts, and universities employ a large number of network administrators, as well, with a heavy need for smooth-running networks and intranet systems.

What is an average work environment and day like for a network administrator?

The work environment for network administrators is typically a standard office setting or a computer laboratory room, with regular 8:00AM to 5:00PM business hours; although, some administrators are asked to remain “on call” in case there is a critical system failure or other major issue to be resolved.

Companies rely heavily on the knowledge and skills of their network administrators, and most show their appreciation by providing healthy salaries and continued training and resources as needed or requested.

Many network administrators spend a large portion of their work-day time managing and maintaining:

  • System usage
  • User accounts and privileges
  • Network logs
  • Software and hardware updates
  • Daily server traffic
  • Application, security and backup functions
  • Scheduled performance tests
  • Storage area networks

Network administrators also may provide subject-matter expertise for documentation and training departments, oversee computer support staff, and teach new employees to use company-specific computer software and hardware.

Job outlook and salary expectations for network administrators

Job growth is expected to grow by 23 percent, which is much faster than average for all occupations. Professionals working for financial services firms and computer equipment companies earn the highest salaries.

Organizations are always seeking well-trained, detail-oriented network administrators with knowledge of the best and latest networking, security, and software ideas for their specific needs. If these qualities sound like you, consider this lucrative, rewarding career.

What does a Network Engineer do?

Information is one of the most valuable assets of a modern business. This is why virtually all businesses today rely on computer systems to one degree or another. As a result, a network engineer, the individual responsible for designing, installing, and upgrading computer systems, has a wide variety of employment opportunities in today’s economy.

Becoming a network engineer can be a lucrative career with good, long-term prospects, but in order to pursue this career you must start with some specialized training, and then expect to update your knowledge throughout your career.

network engineer

Job requirements for network engineers

Since network engineers are often dealing with both hardware and software across entire information technology systems, they need a broad range of knowledge that includes electronics, programming, data storage and retrieval, and security. They need to have strong enough analytical skills to match an organization’s needs with the appropriate network capabilities, and they must be good enough problem-solvers to identify and address any system shortcomings. Communication skills are also helpful, since network engineers may have to meet the needs of several different department managers.

A network engineer is generally required to have a bachelor’s degree in information science or a related field, and some employers favor a master’s degree. In addition to making you eligible for a wider range of jobs, a master’s degree may also help improve your advancement potential.

Career opportunities for network engineers

Network engineers may play a variety of roles within an organization. Some may specialize in the design and set-up of new systems, while others may take ongoing responsibility for the administration of a system. Network engineers may have system-wide responsibilities, or might focus on a particular aspect of computing, such as telecommunications or database management.

In addition to being able to play a few different roles within an organization, network engineers have plenty of variety when it comes to types of potential employers. Besides computer equipment and service providers, network engineers might work for organizations as diverse as investment companies, schools, manufacturers, and telecommunications firms. The highest-paying jobs in the profession tend to be in companies that make computer and peripheral equipment.

The employment outlook is excellent, with job growth expected to be much faster than the overall national average for employment growth. Wages for this profession are especially high in New Jersey, Maryland, the District of Columbia, California, and New York.

With variety, high wages, and a strong employment forecast, network engineering is a career path that can offer you an excellent return on the investment in education necessary to qualify for this profession.

What does a Systems Analyst do?

A systems analyst ensures that businesses, institutions and governments can rely on computer networks to perform tasks that are central to their goals. Consequently, most of these organizations rely on computer systems analysts to design, manage and modify their computer networks to perform very specific tasks.

Depending on the needs of the organization or business, systems analysts may either design and develop new computer systems or reconfigure existing hardware and software programs to perform new or unique functions. Sometimes the systems analysts who build a new computer system from scratch are called system architects.

Skills needed by a systems analyst

Systems analysts must be familiar with an organization’s needs from top to bottom in order to set up a computer network that performs all the jobs a company requires. This usually involves meeting with managers and users to better understand what their needs and expectations are.

systems analyst

Systems analysts then use a variety of tools–including structured analysis, data modeling and information engineering–to create the system needed. This part of the job often involves a cost-benefit study to determine if the proposed investment is worth the expense.

Once a system is installed and the software initiated, the system analyst runs tests to get the system running smoothly. At this stage, the systems analyst is looking for “bugs” in the system and works to resolve those issues before the computers are rolled out to users.

As the system is put to work, the systems analyst may be involved in training users and writing user manuals to help users get familiar with the system and utilize it to its full potential.

Educational requirements for a systems analyst

Most employers want their systems analysts to at least have a bachelor’s degree. It’s also helpful if a job candidate for a systems analyst job has practical experience in the organization’s area. For instance, businesses hiring system analysts might prefer candidates who have a masters in business administration, in addition to formal training in computer science. Hospitals might like to see some training in health-care related issues.

Complex, highly technical jobs might require a graduate degree. This would be true for systems analyst jobs for science-oriented businesses or colleges or universities.

What’s more, computer science is changing so rapidly that systems analysts all need to continually study in order to remain competitive. This kind of supplemental training may come from private institutions, colleges, and hardware and software vendors.

Personality traits are also often a factor in finding a job as a systems analyst. Systems analysts need to be able to communicate effectively with people who do not have technical training in computers and won’t be able to understand technical jargon. A good systems analyst can explain computer procedures in simple, easy-to-understand terms users will remember.

Job outlook for systems analysts

There are more than 500,000 computer systems analysts at work in the US and demand for more is expected to increase much faster than average in the coming years. Businesses are increasingly relying on new technology to become more profitable, and wireless Internet and mobile computing are becoming increasingly important.