Certified System Administrator: Certification and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified system administrator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Systems administrators can gain certification by passing exams issued by software vendors, which usually require experience as a prerequisite. These administrators are responsible for maintaining and monitoring networks, software, and computer systems for their employers. A bachelor's degree is usually required, although experience may be accepted by potential employers when a degree program has not been completed.

Essential Information

Certified system administrators plan and support computer information systems for businesses, nonprofit organizations and educational facilities. They need comprehensive knowledge of hardware and software. A bachelor's degree in information science and certification from a product vendor can give applicants many options when it comes to launching a career as a system administrator. Some employers will consider applicants who have experience instead of a degree. Necessary courses include database management and systems analysis. Certification generally calls for experience and passing an exam.

Required Education Bachelor's degree is commonly required
Certification Optional, but can boost a career
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% for network and computer systems administrators
Mean Salary (2015)* $82,200 for network and computer systems administrators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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Certification for Certified System Administrators

Product vendors often provide the latest and most complete certification opportunities for system administrators. The Microsoft Corporation, for instance, offers the designation Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (www.microsoft.com). This certification instructs and tests an administrator's ability to manage networks using the Windows Server 2012 system, among others. Microsoft also provides certification on technologies including Private Cloud and SharePoint.

Candidates seeking certification through Microsoft must have 12 months of hands-on experience in systems administration. Microsoft offers a wide variety of ways to prepare for certification exams, including online courses, self-paced preparation courses and instructor-led training programs at various locations across the United States. System administrator certifications are also available through Apple and Linux.

Education Requirements

Employers are sometimes willing to accept certification and experience in lieu of formal education; however, many corporations seek employees with adequate certification and a bachelor's degree in information science. Coursework in database management, programming and systems analysis prepare students for careers in systems administration.

General education classes, such as communications and English, prepare aspiring systems administrators to work with individuals as well as computers. Finance, marketing and accounting courses are also beneficial.

Career Information for Certified System Administrators

Certified system administrators maintain system hardware and software, as well as monitor networks and maintain computer systems. They are responsible for designing and supporting networks, including local area networks and wide area networks. Successful system administrators need excellent problem-solving and analytical skills. The job requires attention to detail and the ability to concentrate. Certified systems administrators often work alone but may collaborate in teams with programmers, managers and other staff members.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected job opportunities for network and computer system administrators to increase by 8% from 2014-2024, which is about as fast as average for other careers. The BLS predicted that businesses would continue to utilize computer technology to advance profits, communicate with consumers and implement procedures designed to increase efficiency. The BLS expected that network and computer systems administrators would earn a mean annual wage of $82,200 in May 2015.

Certification for network administrators can be obtained by passing tests issued by Apple and Linux. Problem solving, communication, and intra-personal skills are all important qualities for network administrators. A bachelor's degree is the typical requirement for this profession.

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