Network administrator: job description

Network administrators connect different devices together to form fast and efficient networks.

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Since almost all industries are now heavily computer-dependent, network administrators are needed in most companies.

What does a network administrator do? Typical salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Network administrators are responsible for maintaining computer networks and solving any problems that may occur with them.

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • installing and configuring computer networks and systems
  • identifying and solving any problems that arise with computer networks and systems
  • consulting with clients to specify system requirements and design solutions
  • budgeting for equipment and assembly costs
  • assembling new systems
  • maintaining existing software and hardware and upgrading any that have become obsolete
  • monitoring computer networks and systems to identify how performance can be improved
  • working with IT support personnel
  • providing network administration and support

Graduate salaries for network administrators

Payscale research suggests that entry-level network administrators earn around £21,000 per year, increasing to a little over £30,000 for those with a significant number of years’ experience in the position. Job listings online suggest that at larger, well-known companies more experienced network administrators may earn more than £40,000 though such postings do not necessarily reflect the average.

Typical employers of network administrators

Since almost all industries are now heavily computer-dependent, network administrators are needed in most companies, including:

  • software developers
  • the government
  • the finance industry
  • manufacturers
  • retailers
  • utilities companies
  • schools
  • universities
  • hospitals
  • publishers

You can look for vacancies in specialist publications. Vacancies are also advertised online and by careers services and specialist recruitment agencies.

Qualifications and training required for network administrators

There are routes into this career for both graduates and school leavers.

There are a few opportunities to work in network administrator roles with any degree background (ie a non-technical degree); however, this is unusual. Most network administrator jobs advertised ask for a computer science, software engineering or electronic engineering degree.

Network administrators need to understand how to connect devices to form a fast and efficient network. Therefore it helps if graduates have experience of running networks on specific network operating systems, perhaps in a school, a university or in a company's IT department. You can also apply for industrial placements and summer internships .

For school leavers, taking a short course in networking or network design (such as those run by Cisco) can be helpful but may not be a requirement of all school leaver employers.

Once in the job, most network administrators will study for professional qualifications.

You can also undertake courses provided by major IT employers such as Microsoft and Cisco to boost your skills.

Key skills for network administrators

  • Patience
  • IT and technical skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Enthusiasm
  • Teamworking skills
  • Initiative
  • Attention to detail

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