Kickstarting Your Career as a Network Administrator – Spiceworks News and Insights

Network administrators help manage and optimize the functioning of an enterprise network while maintaining security.

In a hyperconnected world, network administrators perform an essential role in maintaining and supporting IT infrastructure. This article explains the roles and responsibilities of a network admin professional in detail. It also lists the skills you need to succeed in this job role and the expected salary and opportunities. 
A network administrator is an IT professional who manages an organization’s computer system to ensure the efficient running of operations. Network administrators inspect the network for malfunctions, troubleshoot unresponsive programs, improve system processes, evaluate client specifications, update existing applications, and develop solutions to network issues. 
Network administrators are deeply knowledgeable about various programming languages. They exhibit strong problem-solving and analytical skills to resolve network issues quickly. They also have good communication and cooperation skills to enable them to communicate and work efficiently with other members of the technology department to solve network problems in an organization. 
The roles and responsibilities of network administrators will vary from one organization to another, depending on the organization’s needs. However, the following are the general roles and responsibilities of network administrators. 
Administrators are often tasked with handling repairs and maintenance of computer networks in an organization network. Their work is to maintain the existing computer networks by ensuring that the best practices for managing hardware, such as switches and routers, are supported. They upgrade the firmware of networking devices. Additionally, they troubleshoot network issues when they arise by evaluating and isolating issues to find the root cause of the problems. 
They configure network hardware. Network administrators are involved in the typical day-to-day routine of organizations; the smaller the organization is, the more they get involved. For instance, they can be involved in tasks such as acquiring new hardware devices, such as servers, and configuring them. After the acquisition, they install the hardware correctly and configure and maintain them. 
They ensure that the computer network is secure. Network administrators have in-depth knowledge of concepts such as cryptography that they use to come up with solutions to protect the organization and user data. They set up passphrases for networking devices such as routers to ensure that the organization’s data is not compromised through eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks. 
They ensure that new employees can connect to the routers while former employees’ access is revoked. Additionally, whenever the network is compromised, they perform several changes to prevent a similar occurrence, including changing the passphrase.
Network administrators manage the software of an organization. They are responsible for deploying and updating the organization’s software requirements. They set up and monitored software such as email, word processing, and videoconferencing. They install, maintain, and update this software to ensure it performs well and benefits from the latest security and features. 
They are responsible for optimizing network storage. Network administrators have an in-depth knowledge of storage area networks which they use to determine the best ones to store the organization’s data. They work with physical and cloud-based storage options to mitigate network storage concerns.
They provide technical support to the organization, such as installing network resources. For instance, they can assist non-technical staff in installing and running computer programs. They can also install and provide support for local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs).
They evaluate and monitor system performance. Network administrators routinely monitor various systems to ensure they perform as expected. They review and test these systems to enable them to identify and remove errors that could lead to the inability to meet user demand. 
They are responsible for completing network address assignments. They execute the assignments of internet protocol (IP, typically IPv6) addresses to devices connected to the network. They assign addresses on a dynamic or static basis depending on the specific features of the software or the organization’s best practice.
Network administrators are responsible for assigning routing protocols. They establish set protocols and routing table configurations to specify how routers communicate with one another to share information. 
They are responsible for maintaining servers. Network administrators monitor the performance of various network servers like file servers, intrusion detection systems, and virtual private network (VPN) gateways. They maintain these servers and are tasked with providing solutions for an outage. 
Network administrators are tasked with providing primary education to non-technical staff members. They teach them best practices to ensure the data security and privacy of the organization by educating them on the effects of sharing their passphrases with non-employees. They also teach them how to run basic programs and maintain their computer systems. 
Network administrators are responsible for setting up and implementing a disaster recovery plan. Disasters such as the destruction of servers or a malware attack can occur at anytime. Therefore, network administrators must restore systems for mission-critical network servers and plan and implement emergency backups, ensuring that the organization is prepared to handle a disaster. 
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The following are three steps to becoming a network administrator.
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The following are five soft skills that network administrators should have.
Employers are willing to pay higher rates for networking administrators with technical skills. The following are ten technical skills that every network administrator should have:
Network security management skills enable network administrators to plan and implement network security. It allows them to manage host security and file permissions and maintain backups for mission-critical businesses. It can also enable them to implement security protocols and security procedures to ensure the safety and privacy of user and organization data. 
Network administrators with skills in using Windows enable them to install Windows on the organization’s computer networks. They can analyze and troubleshoot issues with Microsoft Windows server hardware, software applications, and clustered environments. They can also use their skills to provide network administration, manage user accounts, and configure network printers. 
These professionals use their network hardware skills to perform system-level design, test, and evaluate software and hardware to determine reliability, efficiency, and compatibility with available systems. They use those skills to decommission computer systems that do not meet the minimum hardware requirements. They also use them to configure and maintain LANs and other peripheral devices.
Network administrators use troubleshooting techniques like root cause analysis to configure and troubleshoot hardware and software systems in the organization. They use them to develop standard operating procedures for customer support personnel to solve problems that users have with applications in the deployed environment. They also troubleshoot network outages and escalate them to the networking engineering team.
Active Directory skills help manage Active Directory user accounts, including assigning folder access and creating and disabling accounts. Network admins can use them to configure Active Directory and provide user management solutions for access control of remote and local users. 
Network administrators should be able to implement and maintain LAN operations with minimal downtime. They use these skills to maintain and generate LAN user documentation on information such as hardware and software applications and support logs. 
Network administrators use access points to maintain and configure network appliances such as SonicWall and Cisco-Meraki for content filtering, remote access, and intrusion detection. These skills are also helpful when developing and implementing acceptable user, security, and remote access policies. Further, they must be able to install, configure, and maintain routers and switches to provide data connectivity. Switches and routers decrease susceptibility to threats. 
Network administrators should provide technical support and training to other employees. Technical support calls offer helpful information on network issues arising from various factors, from misconfigurations to high traffic. Network administrators can also use these skills to create a platform for end-users to raise issues.
There are three categories of network administrator certifications; these are foundation certifications, Cisco certifications, and Microsoft certifications.
According to data from Payscale (last updated on October 15, 2022), the average annual compensation for network administrators is $62,063. The salaries are determined by their career level, geographical location, skills, and employer. 
On average, entry-level network administrators earn up to 18% less, with an average annual compensation of $51,000. Mid-career network administrators can make up to 2% more with an average yearly pay of $63,000. Experienced network administrators earn the most, with an average annual pay of $74,000, which is 20% more than the average pay for network administrators. 
Geographical location also determines the salary that a network administrator can earn. Those working in cities such as Houston, New York, and San Antonio receive the highest salary compensation, with $71,920, $68,634, and $65,720, respectively. 
Network administrators with popular skills, such as storage area networking, earn up to 38% more, and those with LAN administration skills earn up to 27% more than the annual average salary a network administrator earns.
Additionally, network administrators working in companies such as Goodwill Industries and Leidos earn higher salaries with annual average compensation of $65,392. In comparison, those who work at OneNeck IT services reported lower wages of $50,376.
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According to a US Bureau of Labor and Statistics report, employment of network administrators is expected to grow at a 3% rate from 2021 to 2031, which is slower than the average percentage growth for all occupations. Nevertheless, this report projects that there will be an average annual addition of 23,900 jobs for network administrators. The number of openings will be boosted by the demand for upgraded computer equipment and software. 
The following are four jobs available for network administrators:
Network engineers are tasked with planning, designing, and implementing network configurations, troubleshooting performance problems, monitoring the network systems, and configuring security systems such as firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs). 
Network engineers should be able to work as individuals or within a team environment. They liaise with other teams, such as project managers, to enable an organization to meet its objectives. They should also possess problem-solving skills to resolve system outage issues. Network engineers earn an annual average salary of $77,034.
System administrators are IT professionals who ensure that the organization’s computer systems are functioning efficiently to meet its needs. System administrators maintain networks and network file systems. They upgrade, install, and configure application software and computer hardware. They also provide technical support to employees. 
System administrators should demonstrate interpersonal skills to communicate patiently and effectively with other employees when explaining complex computing concepts. They earn an annual average salary of $64,148.
IT managers supervise, implement, and maintain an organization’s computing needs. They monitor server hardware and software to ensure they perform well. They coordinate technology installations, upgrades, and maintenance. They also ensure compliance with the organization’s applicable laws, codes, and regulations. 
IT managers should possess excellent time management skills to work under strict timelines while prioritizing tasks. They should also have good organizational skills and be detail-oriented to spot fluctuations in performance by various computer network components. They earn an annual average salary of $131,185.
Computer network architects are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining data communication networks such as cloud infrastructures in an organization. 
They create layouts for data communication networks and present the designs to management. They should have excellent analytical and creative skills to design effective data communication networks. They should also be able to work together with computer hardware engineers to enable them to actualize their projects. They earn an annual average salary of $121,192.
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As enterprises accelerate digital transformation, the network is an essential backbone. This makes network administrators a vital asset for IT teams — particularly for SaaS product companies, e-commerce, and other businesses that hinge on network performance. With the right skills and certifications, you too can succeed as a network administrator and earn industry-best salaries. 
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Technical Writer


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