Career Information for a Degree in Systems Administration

Systems administration is typically offered as a postsecondary degree. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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A degree in systems administration can lead to a career in network and computer systems administration, computer network architecture, or database administration. Administrators in this field often need to obtain professional certification in various software programs to demonstrate their value to potential employers. These professionals usually study networking, security, and IT management, among other topics, while completing their degree.

Essential Information

Many colleges and universities offer postsecondary programs in systems administration at the certificate, associate's and bachelor's levels. These programs may cover topics like computer programming, networking, IT management, network security and operating systems. Graduate degree programs in systems administration are rare; however, many schools offer graduate-level certificate programs or master's degree programs related to this major. A degree in systems administration prepares students for a variety of careers in the computer systems field.

Career Titles Network and Computer Systems Administrator Computer Network Architect Database Administrator
Required Education Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Software certification None Software certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% 9% 11%
Average Salary (2015)* $82,200 $103,100 $84,250

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Graduates of systems administration programs may qualify for careers as network and computer systems administrators, computer network architects or database administrators; however, employers often prefer to hire applicants who also hold professional certification. Software companies typically offer certifications that demonstrate proficiency in the programs they produce. Individuals may also pursue professional certification through industry associations and training organizations.

Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Network and computer systems administrators install, troubleshoot and maintain organizations' computer systems. They install the network hardware and software as well as circumvent any problems and ensure the systems are working optimally. They also maintain network and system security and may make recommendations for system upgrades. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this career field is expected to see an employment increase of 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is average for all occupations. (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that the average wage of network and computer systems administrators was $82,200 as of May 2015.

Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects design computer networks. They set up and evaluate data communication systems, such as local area, wide area, Internet and intranet networks. The systems can be configured differently to allow communication within individual organizations, between separate locations or globally. This may require the use of hubs, routers and cables as well as installation of drivers and wireless adapters. According to the BLS, computer network architects are expected to see an employment increase of 9 percent from 2014-2024. These professionals earned an average annual salary of $103,100 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.

Database Administrator

Database administrators use their knowledge of database management systems to administer, test and implement computer databases. They may also implement security measures and back up content in case sites crash. According to the BLS, professionals in this category earned an average annual salary of $84,250 as of May 2015, and were expected to see an employment growth of 11 percent over the 2014-2024 decade.

A network and computer systems administrator oversees the security and networking of a company's computer systems, where they are responsible for installing software and hardware and performing maintenance duties when necessary. Computer network architects specialize in designing and setting up network systems for various purposes, such as for organizational and global communications. Database administrators focus on computer databases, where they monitor and manage a company's databases and back up content as needed.

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