Server Administrator: Job Description and Education Requirements

Sep 17, 2019

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

Server administrators perform numerous technical tasks on computer networks for businesses. They require a mixture of education and work experience to get started in the field. They may also require specific certification for the system or software they administer.

Essential Information

A server administrator or systems administrator works with computer networks and ensures that they run efficiently by maintaining software updates, designing and implementing new system structures, monitoring server activity, and auditing server security. These professionals often work for businesses that have a high volume of Web activity or develop software for businesses with online payment transactions or advertising companies.

Aspiring administrators usually need to have some work experience in a related IT role and possess at least an associate's degree in a computer-related field. Individuals may also pursue systems administration certification through vendors such as Microsoft and Cisco.

Required Education Associate's degree in a computer-related field
Other Requirements IT work experience
Certification Optional vendor certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% for all network and computer systems administrators
Median Salary (2018)* $82,050 for all network and computer systems administrators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Server or systems administrators maintain the computer networking system in an office environment by tracking server activity, performing upgrades of software, maintaining computer hardware, addressing questions about technical problems, and improving efficiency by evaluating system network functions. Most work is completed during regular business hours. Occasionally, with new system upgrades or server fixes, work must be completed during odd hours of the night or on weekends. This is when traffic to a Website or office activity will be at its lowest and thus have less of an impact on business.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for network and computer systems administrators are expected to grow as fast as the average through 2028. Options will be greatest for those with a combination of education, professional experience, and professional certifications. In May 2018, the BLS reported that workers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $130,720 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $50,990 or less per year.

Education Requirements

Most employers seek systems administrators who have some combination of education and experience. Those who have worked their way up from a lower position and have obtained professional certification may qualify for some positions. However, it is becoming more common for employers to seek out job candidates who have an associate's degree or higher as well as professional certification. Many community colleges offer associate's degrees in a related field, such as computer science or information technology. Classes could include programming languages, scripting, network structures, and information security.


Many systems administration professionals obtain professional certification that can give them an advantage over other applicants in their job search. The main IT certification exams are through Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA and Redhat. Most of these exams test the applicant's skills in regards to administration of UNIX or Windows servers, including knowledge of RAID (redundant array of independent disks), systems recovery, command-line tools, and troubleshooting malfunctioning networks.

Server administrators usually require at least an associate's degree in a related field. They may be required to obtain specific certification for the software or system they manage. The median annual salary for these positions is about $82,000.

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