Career Definition of a LAN Administrator
Local Area Networks (LANs) supply networking capability to a group of computers in close proximity, such as in an office building or school. A LAN allows users to share files, printers and other applications, enables access to the Internet and the organization's intranet. A LAN administrator, also called a network administrator, is responsible for maintaining this network. LAN administrators may be responsible for installing new applications, distributing software updates, enforcing licensing agreements and maintaining backup systems that can be accessed in the event of a network failure, according to PC Magazine, www.pcmag.com. A LAN administrator also monitors system use to ensure resources are being utilized in accordance with company standards. They may also plan, coordinate and implement network security measures.
|Education||Associate's degree, bachelor's degree or professional certificate in computer science or a related field|
|Job Skills||Problem-solver, analytical, good communicator|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$77,810 for network and computer systems administrators|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||8% growth for network and computer systems administrators|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Educational requirements depend upon the size and complexity of the network. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for many positions, while others may require only an associate's degree with relevant work experience. However, employers typically place a premium on formal education. LAN administrators must possess technical knowledge that meets an organization's business needs. Most community colleges and technical institutes offer an associate's degree in Computer Science or Information Technology that can be more practical than typical 4-year-degrees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most employers prefer those with broad knowledge and a proven ability to learn. Many LAN administrators have undergraduate degrees in unrelated fields and professional certificates in Computer Science.
A LAN administrator should have strong problem-solving and analytical ability, in addition to deft interpersonal skills. Network administrators must be able to communicate just as easily with those who have no computer knowledge as with those who do.
Career and Economic Outlook
The median annual salary of network and computer systems administrators was $77,810 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicts that the employment of these workers is expected to increase by 8% for the years 2014 through 2024, which is an average increase. Demand for qualified professionals will continue to grow as more and more businesses continue to invest in more advanced technology and mobile networks.
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If you are interested in computers, networks and technology, you might also want to look into working as a computer network architect or computer systems analyst.
Computer Network Architect
For those interested in designing data communication networks and determining what computer equipment is necessary, a career in computer network architecture may be a good option. Network architects analyze current and future computer system needs, select the technology for LAN, intranet and other network use and create the layout design of cable and equipment. They also communicate their recommendations to management and explore new technological developments.
To work in this profession, an information systems, engineering, computer science or related bachelor's degree is required, but some employers may prefer to hire someone with an MBA in an area such as information systems. In 2015, the median annual salary for computer network architects was $100,240. The BLS also predicted that job opportunities for this field will increase by 9% during the 2014-2024 decade.
Computer Systems Analyst
Performing many of the same duties as a computer network architect, a computer systems analyst explores the technology needs of an organization and determines what computer systems should be in operation. They research costs to determine if the expense will provide sufficient benefits and choose what equipment will be used. Other duties include managing the installation and testing process, designing the system, presenting ideas to management and creating user documentation.
Computer systems analysts often have a wide variety of educational backgrounds, such as computer science, business, liberal arts and information systems, but a bachelor's degree is generally required. Master's degrees are necessary for larger, more technically complex positions. In 2015, computer systems analysts earned a median annual salary of $85,800, and employment in this field should increase by 21% during 2014-2024, according to the BLS.