Network administrators are the people who keep an organization's computer network running smoothly. This complex…
Although it sounds straightforward, finding network administrator jobs can come with its challenges. You may not know where to start or what specific skills you need in order to get one of these highly sought-after network administrator positions.
In this blog, we will discuss how to find the right network administrator job opportunity and the steps you should take in order to do so. We will also cover some of the technical skills that network administrators should have and explain why they are so important for your success in this industry.
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What is a Network Administrator?
A network administrator is responsible for overseeing network operations and data communication systems in an organization, similar to the role of a system administrator. They are also responsible for guaranteeing network availability and performance relative to their company’s business objectives. Network administrators are computer support specialists who ensure that all network components such as routers, switches, servers, and firewalls are properly maintained throughout their lifespan to operate effectively and free of network issues.
Network administrators are also responsible for network security of operating systems, including network monitoring to detect potential threats or vulnerabilities that could compromise the integrity of their company’s computer network. Finally, network administrators must make suggestions on how to improve network performance using both hardware upgrades and software changes.
Prerequisites for Finding a Good Network Administrator Job Opportunity
While there are many different types of network administrator jobs available, most typically require at least a bachelor’s degree in information technology (IT), computer science, or another related field. Employers may sometimes hire applicants with degrees in other fields, but they must have extensive network experience to compensate for any lack of formal training.
Network administrators should also take network certification courses during their college career so that they can demonstrate proficiency with networking concepts and technologies after graduating or changing jobs. These certifications will make them more marketable for network administrator positions because employers know these individuals are trained in network security skills and concepts.
Network administrator skills are divided into two categories – hard and soft skills. Hard technical skills needed for network administration are:
- Two or more years of network troubleshooting or technical experience;
- Understanding of complex networks;
- The ability to monitor, control, and manage server infrastructures; and
- Experience with a Local Area Network (LAN), Wide Area Network (WAN), and Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Finally, network administrators should attend local networking events or join industry associations to establish a network of contacts within their community so they can expand their network administrator job opportunities after graduating or while conducting their job search. These professionals are often hired based on the strength of their network alone because most employers want employees who will stay with them for an extended period of time. These network administrator job opportunities are often posted on online job boards for this reason, so prospective network administrators should check these sites regularly to stay updated with the latest open positions.
How to Start
Network administrators play an essential role in any company, no matter the industry. They are a key person for keeping the organization’s computer network up-to-date and running optimally. Whether this means maintaining the system’s security, network troubleshooting, providing suggestions on how to effectively connect or deploy various software systems, or what network hardware to purchase, it’s all in the day’s work of a network administrator.
Because this is a highly responsible position, you have to have certain qualifications in order to acquire it. Fortunately, there is a proven track you can follow.
1. Identify your career path. Although you can start any network administrator program without a solid idea of the specific area you would like to work in, identifying your career goal in advance should be your priority. This way, you can choose a program that offers more classes in the specific area you want to work in. For instance, if you’re going to work in cybersecurity, you will want to skip extra courses in technical consulting, but if you’re going to work with new businesses, you will want to choose a program that includes basic business classes.
2. Narrow your Specialty. By considering your career path, you will discover more about the potential areas of work, which can help you define your choice of specialty. While some schools offer a general network administration degree, others may provide specialty degrees, allowing you to focus on areas such as Data Analysis, Software Development, Information Security, Systems Analysis, or IT Entrepreneurship. By choosing a specialty degree, you can take more courses specific to your chosen field of work and give you an edge in the job market after graduation.
3. Earn a Network Administrator Degree. Although there are some employers who prefer to hire those with a bachelor’s degree, there are companies that hire people who have an associate degree or certificate (especially when coupled with related work experience). Make sure to find a fully accredited program and, if possible, the one that includes an internship so you can have an opportunity to work in your preferred area before graduation. Even if you are already working, you can earn a degree or a certificate by taking a partial class load.
4. Gain On-the-Job Experience. A diploma is important, but nothing beats experience on the job. Education and observation can only go so far. Education can teach you what tools are needed for solving a specific problem, but it takes experience to generalize processes, to know when they apply or don’t. If your chosen area of specialization is highly competitive, you will want to gain experience at a small business or as technical support at a larger organization. Whatever the case may be, the experience you gain will be your asset as you climb the industry ladder. It’s also good to know that many network administrators are hired directly by an organization they interned with during their training, so keep your options open.
5. Don’t Stop with Your Training. Technology is constantly changing, so you should continue your education throughout your career in order to stay up-to-date with the latest developments. As mentioned, in addition to courses, you should always attend any available conferences, seminars, online classes, webinars, and anything else that can allow you to continue education training and keep you on top of the latest developments in network administration.
Alternative Paths to Finding the Right Network Administrator Jobs
Although a usual way of becoming a network administrator is first to earn a bachelor’s degree, there are other paths you can take to start working at your dream IT position. As a general rule, you can replace every year of required college with three years of relevant work experience. You can also enter the field with just an associate’s degree and take courses to climb the IT ladder. Many organizations sponsor their employees’ training, so you can take classes while working.
Networking certifications also play a big part in finding a good job in the network administration job market, so if you can earn certificates in such programs as CompTIA’s Network’+ or Cisco’s CCNA, you may be able to enter the network administration field. Many enter the administrative field with an associate’s degree and work while earning a bachelor’s degree.
Potential Network Administrator Career Paths
Network administrators have a wide range of career path choices within the industry. A person can enter the field in a number of different positions, and they may decide on a different career within the related services industry as they progress through their training. The most popular positions in the industry are:
- Computer Programmers;
- Computer and Information System Managers;
- Computer Hardware Engineers;
- Computer System Analysts;
- Computer Network Architects; and
- Computer Network Support Specialists.
Network administrators are responsible for configuring, maintaining, and upgrading servers and complex networks for one or more companies. They are also responsible for network security and computer systems, ensuring potential threats and vulnerabilities will not go unnoticed. This is a highly responsible position that requires a certain level of education to become a network administrator.
As a network architect, your job will be a significant part of your life. This is why you should take the time to find a network administrator role that is the best fit for you. To do this, first, you must figure out what you want from your network administrator career path and then search for jobs with those characteristics. Regardless of which network administrator careers appeal to you, proper training is essential to establish and advance your career. Even when you get hired, it is vital to stay on top of the latest technology developments by attending seminars, conferences, and classes.
Hundreds of companies post new openings every day, and CIBR Warriors are there to help you find the right one for you. For more help on advancing your network administrator career, contact us. We’d be happy to answer your questions and provide you with the best advice for getting started.