Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Summary

network and computer systems administrators image
Administrators maintain network LANs, WANs, and intranets.
Quick Facts: Network and Computer Systems Administrators
2012 Median Pay $72,560 per year
$34.88 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 366,400
Job Outlook, 2012-22 12% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 42,900

What Network and Computer Systems Administrators Do

Computer networks are critical parts of almost every organization. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of these networks.

Work Environment

Network and computer systems administrators work with the physical computer networks of a variety of organizations and therefore are employed in many industries.

How to Become a Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Although some employers require a postsecondary certificate, most require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science.

Pay

The median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $72,560 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth will be highest at firms that provide cloud computing technology.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of network and computer systems administrators with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about network and computer systems administrators by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Network and Computer Systems Administrators Do

Network and computer systems administrators
Administrators fix computer server problems.

Computer networks are critical parts of almost every organization. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of these networks. They organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.

Duties

Network and computer systems administrators typically do the following:

  • Determine what the organization needs in a network and computer system before it is set up
  • Install all network hardware and software and make needed upgrades and repairs
  • Maintain network and computer system security and ensure that all systems are operating correctly
  • Collect data in order to evaluate the network’s or system’s performance and help make the system work better and faster
  • Add users to a network and assign and update security permissions on the network
  • Train users on the proper use of hardware and software
  • Solve problems when a user or an automated monitoring system informs them that a problem exists

Administrators manage an organization’s servers and desktop and mobile equipment. They ensure that email and data storage networks work properly. They also make sure that employees’ workstations are working efficiently and stay connected to the central computer network. Some administrators manage telecommunication networks.

In some cases, administrators help network architects design and analyze network models. They also participate in decisions about buying future hardware or software to upgrade their organization’s network. Some administrators provide technical support to computer users, and they also may supervise computer support specialists who help solve users’ problems.

Work Environment

Network and computer systems administrators
Network and computer systems administrators work with network architects, IT management, and non-IT staff.

Network and computer systems administrators held about 366,400 jobs in 2012. They work with the physical computer networks of a variety of organizations and therefore are employed in many industries. 

The industries that employed the most network and computer systems administrators in 2012 were as follows: 

Computer systems design and related services16%
Educational services; state, local, and private11
Information11
Finance and insurance9
Manufacturing 7

Network and computer systems administrators work with many types of workers, including computer network architects and computer and information systems managers as well as non information technology (IT) staff.

Work Schedules

In 2012, most network and computer systems administrators worked full time. Most organizations depend on their computer networks, so many administrators must work overtime to ensure that the networks are operating properly. About a quarter of these administrators worked over 40 hours per week in 2012.

How to Become a Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Network and computer systems administrators
Administrators need strong computer skills.

Although some employers require just a postsecondary certificate, most require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science.

Education

Although some employers require just a postsecondary certificate, most require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science. However, because administrators work with computer hardware and equipment, a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering usually is acceptable as well. Such a degree usually entails classes in computer programming, networking, or systems design.

Because network technology is continually changing, administrators need to keep up with the latest developments. Many continue to take courses throughout their careers. Some businesses require that an administrator get a master’s degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification is a way to show a level of competence and may provide a jobseeker with a competitive advantage. Certification programs generally are offered by product vendors or software firms. Companies may require their network and computer systems administrators to be certified in the product they use. Microsoft and Cisco offer some of the most common certifications.

Other Experience

To gain practical experience, many network administrators participate in an internship while in school.

Advancement

Network administrators can advance to become computer network architects. They can also advance to managerial jobs in information technology (IT) departments such as computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Administrators need analytical skills to evaluate network and system performance and determine how changes in the environment will affect it.

Communication skills. Administrators must be able to describe problems and their solutions to non-IT workers.

Computer skills. Administrators oversee the connections of many different types of computer equipment and must ensure that they all work together properly.

Multitasking skills. Administrators may have to work on many problems and tasks at the same time.

Problem-solving skills. Administrators must be able to quickly resolve any problems that arise with computer networks.

Pay

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Median annual wages, May 2012

Computer occupations

$76,270

Network and computer systems administrators

$72,560

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $72,560 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $44,330, and the top 10 percent earned more than $115,180.

Network and computer systems administrators are employed in many different industries, and pay varies by industry. In May 2012, the median annual wages for network and computer systems administrators in the top five industries in which these administrators worked were as follows:

Finance and insurance $77,370
Information77,270
Computer systems design and related services76,090
Manufacturing70,250
Educational services; state, local, and private61,830

In 2012, most network and computer systems administrators worked full time. Most organizations depend on their computer networks, so many administrators work overtime to ensure that the networks are operating properly. About a quarter of these administrators worked over 40 hours per week in 2012.

Job Outlook

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Computer occupations

18%

Network and computer systems administrators

12%

Total, all occupations

11%

 

Employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for information technology workers is high and should continue to grow as firms invest in newer, faster technology and mobile networks. However, an increase in cloud computing could raise the productivity of network administrators, slowing their growth across many industries. Growth will be highest at industries that provide cloud-computing technology. Employment of network administrators in the computer systems design and related services industry is projected to grow 35 percent from 2012 to 2022.

Growth is also expected in healthcare industries as their use of information technology increases. More administrators will be required to manage the growing systems and networks found at hospitals and other healthcare institutions.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities should be favorable for this occupation. Prospects should be best for applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and who are up to date on the latest technology, especially cloud computing.

Employment projections data for Network and Computer Systems Administrators, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Network and computer systems administrators

15-1142 366,400 409,400 12 42,900 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of network and computer systems administrators.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Computer and information systems managers

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers, often called information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization. They help determine the information technology goals of an organization and are responsible for implementing computer systems to meet those goals.

Bachelor’s degree $120,950
Computer hardware engineers

Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers. By creating new directions in computer hardware, these engineers create rapid advances in computer technology.

Bachelor’s degree $100,920
computer network architects image

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. These networks range from a small connection between two offices to a multinational series of globally distributed communications systems.

Bachelor’s degree $91,000
Computer programmers

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write code to create software programs. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow.

Bachelor’s degree $74,280
Computer support specialists

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment. Some, called computer network support specialists, support information technology (IT) employees within their organization. Others, called computer user support specialists, assist non-IT users who are having computer problems.

See How to Become One $48,900
Computer systems analysts

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures and design information systems solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.

Bachelor’s degree $79,680
Database administrators

Database Administrators

Database administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data, such as financial information and customer shipping records. They make sure that data are available to users and are secure from unauthorized access.

Bachelor’s degree $77,080
Information security analysts

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization's computer networks and systems. Their responsibilities are continually expanding as the number of cyberattacks increase.

Bachelor’s degree $86,170
Electrical and electronics engineers

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems—from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPS).

Bachelor’s degree $89,630
Software developers

Software Developers

Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or other device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks.

Bachelor’s degree $93,350
Web developers

Web Developers

Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. They also may create content for the site.

Associate’s degree $62,500
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Network and Computer Systems Administrators,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm (visited April 18, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014