Become a Certified Network Administrator

Learn how to become a certified network administrator. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in network administration. View article »

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Certified Network Administrator

Organizations ranging from small businesses and schools to government agencies use computers that are connected to a network on a daily basis; the person who maintains these systems is called a network administrator. Network administrators analyze the needs of an organization, install and maintain the necessary hardware and software to meet these needs, and solve any problems that arise along the way. They may also provide daily support and assistance with telecommunications. Network administrators typically work full-time in an office setting, and overtime work is often required for network administrators.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; some positions only require an associate's degree
Degree Field Computer or information science; electrical engineering may also be acceptable
Key Skills Network management software, configuration management software, virus protection software, and network security and monitoring software; experience working with cable verifiers, hard disk arrays, network analyzers, and server load balancers
Median Salary (2015)* $77,810 yearly (for all network and computer systems administrators)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online.

Steps to Getting into this Career

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Although a few positions may be attainable with an associate's degree, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that a bachelor's degree is frequently required for network administration positions. Several fields of study can prepare students for this line of work; computer and information science, network administration, or electrical engineering could all be suitable majors for network administrators. A bachelor's program with a concentration in networking usually includes courses in routing and switching, information security, network applications, and Web programming.

Success Tip:

To really shine in your degree program, participate in an internship while enrolled in an undergraduate program. Some schools offer paid summer internships to students who wish to work as network administrators. Students may even earn course credit for completing an internship. Not only can students gain experience that's often desired by employers, but they may even have the opportunity to make connections with industry professionals or turn the internship into a full-time job after graduation.

Step 2: Obtain Certification

Various product vendors, such as Microsoft, Novell and Cisco, offer certifications that can be useful for network administrators. Cisco offers a number of different network administration certifications, including the Cisco Certified Network Associate and the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician designations. Microsoft confers the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate designation for SQL server and Windows server professionals.

After choosing a certification path, the candidate must complete the necessary exams and sometimes meet a certain set of prerequisites. Although certification training can be helpful, it's not usually required to take the certification exam.

Success Tip:

You may want to consider earning multiple certifications. Network administrators can consider holding certifications in more than one area, which may make them desirable job applicants. Certification demonstrates a person's skills and experience and shows potential employers that they've taken extra steps to stand out.

Step 3: Continue to Develop Knowledge and Skills

It is essential for certified network administrators to keep up with current technology and trends in the field to stay marketable and advance in their careers. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, such as joining a professional organization or taking continuing education courses.

The Network Professional Association has local chapters that conduct meetings, workshops and career networking opportunities. The Storage Networking Industry Association offers newsletters that can keep networking professionals up-to-date on the latest changes as well as hands-on labs that can increase participants' knowledge of networking and storage systems. Software vendors also have training courses and events that can be beneficial to people who work on networks.

To review, with a bachelor's or associate's degree in computer or information science and industry certification, certified network administrators earn about $78,000 a year to analyze the needs of an organization, install and maintain the necessary hardware and software to meet these needs, and solve any problems that arise

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