Computer Systems Administrator: Job Description & Requirements

Sep 08, 2019

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

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Computer system administrators work in a variety of fields managing the computer systems and networks for different organizations. They require a degree and may require certification. The job outlook in this field is about as fast as average.

Essential Information

Computer systems administrators are employed in all types of workplaces to oversee the operation of an organization's entire computer system, including the installation, updates and maintenance. They usually need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, although a certificate or an associate's degree is acceptable in some cases, and other jobs call for a master's degree. Employers generally require computer systems administrators to complete certification programs with manufacturers as well.

Required Education Typically a bachelor's degree in computer science or related field; a certificate or an associate's degree is acceptable in some cases
Other Requirements Certification from software manufacturers sometimes required
 Median Salary (2018)   $82,050 (for all network and computer systems administrators)*
 Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)   5% growth (for all network and computer systems administrators)*

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

Job Description

Computer systems administrators may work in laboratories or office settings for government organizations, small businesses or large companies. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were about 383,900 people employed in the field and that these workers often worked overtime to ensure the full functionality of organizations' computer systems. Employers can also place computer systems administrators on call, which means that they come in to fix a problem like a system failure at anytime.

The BLS reported a median annual salary of $82,050 for network and computer systems administrators in 2018. At that time, most of these professionals made $50,990-$130,720 annually, BLS data indicates. According to BLS projections, opportunities in the field were expected to grow by an average rate of 5% from 2018-2028.

Job Duties

The administrator works to ensure that the computer systems are kept working in an efficient manner. This can include fixing any issues with the design of the network, software and computers of the company's computer systems. Maintaining these systems, answering questions, monitoring them and issuing upgrades are all duties a computer systems administrator performs to meet the computer needs of the company.

Job Requirements

The BLS notes that employers generally look for computer systems administrators with work experience and postsecondary education. In certain circumstances, a certificate or an associate degree is sufficient; however, many employers prefer a bachelor's degree. In some cases, a master's degree, such as a Master of Business Administrator or Master of Science in Computer Information Systems, might be needed to pursue managerial positions.

Regardless of the education level, a computer systems administrator can pursue a major or specialization in a computer-related subject, such as management information systems, information science or computer science.

According to the BLS, employers may also require computer systems administrators to obtain professional certification. These certifications are available from the product manufacture, such as Microsoft or New Horizons. An employer may request that a computer systems administrator obtain certification in other products commonly used for the company or business.

Computer system administrators usually need a bachelor's degree, though some employer's may accept an associate's degree, and others may require a master's degree. Certification for specific systems or software may be required. The median annual salary for systems administrators was about $82,000 as of 2018.

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