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
2016 Median Pay $79,700 per year
$38.32 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 391,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 23,900

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

Most employers require network and computer systems administrators to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science. Others may require only a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree.

Pay

The median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $79,700 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for information technology (IT) workers is high and should continue to grow as firms invest in newer, faster technology and mobile networks.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for network and computer systems administrators.

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 About this section

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 an organization’s system needs and install network hardware and software
  • Make needed upgrades and repairs to networks and ensure that systems are operating correctly
  • Maintain network and computer system security
  • Evaluate and optimize network or system performance
  • Add users to a network, and assign and update security permissions on the network
  • Train users in the proper use of hardware and software
  • Interpret and solve problems when a user or an automated monitoring system alerts 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.

Administrators may 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 About this section

Network and computer systems administrators
Network and computer systems administrators work with both IT and non-IT staff.

Network and computer systems administrators held about 391,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of network and computer systems administrators were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 18%
Information 11
Educational services; state, local, and private 10
Finance and insurance 9
Management of companies and enterprises 7

Although many network and computer systems administrators are employed by firms in the computer systems design and related services industry, they work in a variety of settings. Some might administer systems and networks for financial firms, and others work in hospitals or local government offices.

Network and computer systems administrators work with many types of workers, including other IT workers, such as computer support specialists, database administrators, computer network architects, and computer and information systems managers.

Work Schedules

Most network and computer systems administrators worked full time in 2016. Organizations depend on their computer networks, so administrators may need to work overtime to ensure that the networks are operating properly around the clock. About 1 in 5 administrators worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016.

How to Become a Network and Computer Systems Administrator About this section

Network and computer systems administrators
Administrators evaluate network and system performance and determine how changes in the environment will affect them.

Most employers require network and computer systems administrators to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science. Others may require only a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree.

Education

Although some employers require only a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree, most require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science. There are degree programs that focus on computer network and system administration. However, because administrators work with computer hardware and equipment, a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering usually is acceptable as well. Programs in these fields frequently include classes in computer programming, networking, or systems design.

Because network technology is constantly changing, administrators need to keep up with the latest developments. Many continue to take courses throughout their careers and attend information technology (IT) conferences to keep up with the latest technology. Some businesses require that administrators have a master’s degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Companies generally require their network and computer systems administrators to be certified in the products they use. Certification programs usually are offered directly from vendors or from vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates the knowledge and the use of best practices that are required of network and computer systems administrators. Microsoft and Cisco offer some of the most common certifications.

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 to evaluate networks and systems to make sure that they perform reliably and to anticipate new requirements as customers’ needs change.

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

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

Problem-solving skills. Administrators must quickly resolve problems that arise with computer networks.

Pay About this section

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Median annual wages, May 2016

Computer occupations

$82,860

Network and computer systems administrators

$79,700

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $79,700 in May 2016. 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 $48,870, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $127,610.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for network and computer systems administrators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Information $85,960
Computer systems design and related services 85,490
Finance and insurance 84,850
Management of companies and enterprises 83,210
Educational services; state, local, and private 68,510

Most network and computer systems administrators worked full time in 2016. Organizations depend on their computer networks, so administrators may need to work overtime to ensure that the networks are operating properly around the clock. About 1 in 5 administrators worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016.

Job Outlook About this section

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Computer occupations

13%

Total, all occupations

7%

Network and computer systems administrators

6%

 

Employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for information technology (IT) workers is high and should continue to grow as firms invest in newer, faster technology and mobile networks. Growth also is expected as the use of IT in healthcare increases. However, an increase in cloud computing could raise the productivity of network administrators, slowing their growth across many industries.

Employment of network administrators in the computer systems design and related services industry is projected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026. The increasing adoption of cloud services by small and medium-sized businesses that do not have their own dedicated IT departments could increase the demand for network and computer systems administrators within this industry.

Job Prospects

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

Employment projections data for network and computer systems administrators, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Network and computer systems administrators

15-1142 391,300 415,200 6 23,900 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

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 Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
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 $135,800
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.

Bachelor's degree $115,080
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 small connections between two offices to next-generation networking capabilities such as a cloud infrastructure that serves multiple customers.

Bachelor's degree $101,210
Computer programmers

Computer Programmers

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

Bachelor's degree $79,840
Computer support specialists

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to computer users and organizations. These specialists either support computer networks or they provide technical assistance directly to computer users.

See How to Become One $52,160
Computer systems analysts

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts, sometimes called systems architects, study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures, and design 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 $87,220
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 secure from unauthorized access.

Bachelor's degree $84,950
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 increases.

Bachelor's degree $92,600
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, including broadcast and communications systems, such as portable music players and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.

Bachelor's degree $96,270
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 another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

Bachelor's degree $102,280
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 its performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. In addition, web developers may create content for the site.

Associate's degree $66,130
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Network and Computer Systems Administrators,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm (visited November 19, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.