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Systems Administrator

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science or management information systems
Average Salary: $66,310
Job Outlook: Excellent

Systems administrators keep the various computer networks that enable modern business and life moving. Systems administrators design, build, and maintain the computer networks used by individuals, businesses, and government to store, retrieve, and use information.

The field of systems administration is broad, with many possible career paths. Systems administrators may be in charge of designing computer networks for organizations or businesses, providing security for these networks, helping computer networks to work with telecommunications equipment, etc.

Education and Training Requirements

Systems administrators typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, however, many organizations will consider candidates who have an associates degree and work experience in systems administration.

Students considering becoming a systems administrator should pursue a degree in computer science, information science, or management information systems. Suggested coursework includes classes in computer science, programming, math, statistics and computer engineering. It’s also recommended that prospective systems administrators take courses in finance, business management and database management.

For advanced systems administration jobs, such as network architects, many businesses and organizations require a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in information systems.

Getting the Job

Systems administrators typically work their way up from entry-level IT positions within a company. To move up, IT professionals should display a solid work ethic, the ability to anticipate problems, good planning and interpersonal skills, and sound technical knowledge to get the job.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Systems administration has an unquestionably bright future. Between 2008 and 2018, the number of jobs for systems administrators is expected to grow by 30 percent. Some of the leading organizations employing systems administrators include governmental organizations, management firms, computer companies, telecommunications companies, schools, universities and other educational institutions and insurance companies.

One of the great things about systems administration is that it is a highly mobile field, meaning that entry level IT workers can move their way up to the top. Pursuing continuing education is a good idea for prospective systems administrators, as advanced degrees and training will make them more employable.

Working Conditions and Environment

Systems administrators typically work in comfortable office settings. Most systems administrators work traditional 40-hour work weeks, but some may work longer hours or be on call during off hours. However, some systems administrators may be able to do most of their work from home, if they have remote access to their company’s network.

Systems administrators need a fair amount of patience, as they typically have to work with non-technical employees in diagnosing and fixing problems.

Because of the long hours they spend at a keyboard and in front of a computer screen, systems administrators may suffer from common office maladies such as carpal tunnel syndrome, eyestrain, and back problems.

Salary and Benefits

Systems administrators typically enjoy good pay and benefits. Salaries vary from company to company, with governmental and educational systems administrators earning an average of $64,230, and systems administrators working for telecommunications carriers earning an average of $75,930. The top 10 percent of systems administrators earn about $110,920 per year, while the lowest 10 percent earn about $39,000.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for Computing Machinery
2 Penn Plaza, Ste. 701
New York, NY 10121

Data Management International
19239 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., No. 132
Lutz, FL 33542

The League of Professional System Administrators
15000 Commerce Parkway, Ste. C
Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesComputers, IT & Telecommunications