Earning a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field is a good first step in becoming a network administrator. Specializations include programs such as computer science or network administration. In addition, other networking certification might be required, depending on the industry or type of employment.
Network administrators provide support for local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), intranet, Internet or network segment systems. They are responsible for the network's overall stability and security, and some of their duties may include installing network hardware, training users and evaluating network performance. Many employers look for applicants who have computer-related bachelor's degrees, such as those in computer science, network administration or management information systems. In addition, individuals may seek vendor-specific networking certification.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in a computer-related field|
|Certification||Vendor-specific networking certification may be preferred|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||8% for all network and computer systems administrators|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$77,810 annually for all network and computer systems administrators|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Education Requirements for Network Administration
A variety of degree programs are available in the field of network administration, often at the undergraduate level. These programs can be found under a variety of majors, including network administration, computer science, information science and MIS (management information systems).
Degree program coursework often consists of study in computer science, computer programming, network systems, systems security, advanced mathematics and statistics. MIS programs may also include additional courses in finance and database management.
Certification programs are another popular educational option in network administration. Many certification programs are designed for students who have completed a program in computer science, though some certification programs will accept candidates that have professional experience in network systems. Some of these programs offer a general overview of network systems, while most concentrate on vendor-specific applications, such as Microsoft, Cisco or Sun Microsystems.
Because of the rapid technological advancements in network systems, many professional network administrators periodically update their skills through advanced certification courses. Typically, these certification courses feature a small amount of courses focusing on a specialty and often last from only a few weeks to a few months in length.
A broad range of industries and organizations hire network administrators, including government agencies, academic institutions, financial firms and telecommunication companies. Between 2014 and 2024, the number of opportunities in this field was projected to increase 8%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This average rate of growth was due to the push for faster and mobile technologies in the marketplace as well as tightened security for corporate data.
In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual income for network and computer systems administrators was $77,810. Average earnings fluctuated pretty significantly, based on industry. For example, the highest paid administrators worked for pipeline transportation companies; securities and commodity exchanges; while those who worked in academic settings earned below-average wages (www.bls.gov).
Network administrators can work in a variety of industries, ranging from telecommunications to security exchanges. The need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, and professional certification may help with career advancement. Jobs for network administrators are expected to increase at an average rate over the next several years.