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Unix Administration: Job Outlook & Career Requirements

Learn about what education and skills a Unix administrator needs. Explore salary and employment outlook as well as work duties to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Unix System Administrator

Unix system administrators help keep a business's computer network and servers running. They also assist other departments with technology implementation, monitoring and managing servers, maintaining network efficiency, and providing technical support. They perform preventative maintenance to prevent costly downtimes. They may also work to secure and back up data, as well as train non-technical employees in the use of network technologies and computer software programs.

Education Bachelor's degree in computer science or engineering recommended
Job Skills Unix and other software, troubleshooting, independent work, communication
Median Salary (2018)* $82,050 for network and computer systems administrators
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 6% for network and computer systems administrators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Unix system administrators usually have a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering or electrical engineering. Bachelor's degrees typically take four to five years to complete. Courses in a computer science degree program may include, calculus, computer programming, software engineering, system security, and database administration.

Skills Required

Unix system administrators need to be experienced in working with a variety of software beyond Unix platforms. Troubleshooting problems, architecture and infrastructure design, working independently, and the ability to communicate well are important skills for Unix system administrators.

Career and Economic Outlook

Unix system administrators will always be in demand due to the integration of computing platforms and business needs, but they could experience the effects of outsourcing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS expects demand for network and computer systems administrators, including Unix system administrators, to grow by 6% from 2016-2026. According to the BLS, network and computer systems administrators made a median annual salary of $82,050 in 2018.

Alternative Careers

You can also look into these career choices for computer administration and architecture:

Computer Network Architect

For those interested in creating data networks and selecting what equipment to use, becoming a computer network architect could be a good choice. Network architects explore what communication technology is needed and choose networking devices for intranet and LAN use. They also design cable and equipment layout, make technology recommendations to management, explore new advancements in the field and plan for future needs.

Aspiring network architects need to earn a computer science, engineering, information systems or related bachelor's degree, but some employers may require an MBA with a focus in information systems. As reported by the BLS 2018, the median yearly salary for computer network architects was $109,020. The BLS also expects job opportunities for these architects to increase by 6% from 2016-2026, resulting in the creation of approximately 10,500 new positions during that time.

Database Administrator

For those interested in designing and building databases that protect and organize vital company information, working in database administration may be the right fit. Database administrators analyze data management needs and create a storage system. They also observe database performance, set up security procedures, grant user permissions, make structural or efficiency modifications and prevent the loss of data.

To work in the profession, a computer-related bachelor's degree is required, and most administrators gain work experience in an analyst or developer job. According to BLS projections, employment of database administrators should increase by 11% between 2016 and 2026. BLS reports from May of 2018 estimate the annual median salary of these administrators at $90,070.

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