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Windows System Administrator Jobs: Options and Requirements

Windows system administrators require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification options to see if this is the right career for you.

Windows system administrators manage computers and servers running on the Windows operating system. These professionals can work in positions such as support engineer, support specialist, technical advisor or consultant. Network and computer system administrators have a job growth outlook that is about average.

Essential Information

Windows system administrators are responsible for maintaining the systems and servers of a Windows operating system. They may administer website access and troubleshoot problems. Most employers require at least a bachelor's degree related to computer science and some years of experience working with Windows. Firms looking for more experienced candidates may stipulate certification as a prerequisite for employment.

Required Education A bachelor's degree in computer science, computer programming, computer engineering or a related discipline
Other Requirements Experience with Windows OS
Certification Generally voluntary, may be required by some employers
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% (for network and computer systems administrators)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $77,810 (for network and computer systems administrators)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Windows System Administrator Requirements

Education

Employers generally require that administrators have a 4-year bachelor's degree in a relevant computer-based major, although certifications only stipulate experience and not education prerequisites. A bachelor's degree program suitable for future system administrators may include courses in computer programming, computer science, computer engineering, database management and computer languages.

Students enrolled in a bachelor's program may obtain an internship, whereby gaining job experience. An internship may lead to full-time employment. Master's degrees in computer system administration are available for individuals wishing to advance into more managerial and executive positions.

Certification

Certification may help a Windows system administrator find employment. Microsoft offers a certification exam - the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator) test - for prospective Windows system administrators. Candidates need at least one to 12 months of work experience in the area. This multiple choice and written certification exam is based on Microsoft's Windows Server 2003.

Although the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator credential is still available, Microsoft no long supports Windows Server 2003. Individuals interested in seeking certification may consider MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) or MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist). These two certifications test knowledge and skills related to Windows Server 2008. MCITP has two paths, server administrator and enterprise administrator.

Windows System Administrator Job Options

According to Microsoft.com, Microsoft certified Windows system administrator may take positions as a:

  • Consultant
  • Support engineer
  • Support specialist
  • Manger of service support
  • Technical advisor

In January 2016, PayScale.com indicated that most Windows system administrators earned yearly incomes ranging from $41,971 to $89,407. The job market for network and systems administrators in general is expected to see a growth rate of 8% between 2014 and 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.

Windows systems administrators usually need to have a bachelor's degree. Employers may prefer those who have obtained Microsoft certification. These positions have a median annual salary around $78,000.


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