It often seems like the IT guy is the most popular person at the office, so it is not surprising to learn that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a robust 28 percent job growth for network administrators between 2010 and 2020. Computer networks are becoming an integral part of the operations of almost every business, and people with the skills to set up and maintain these networks are in great demand. Network admins are generally expected to have a college degree and at least one IT industry-related certification.
Network administrators most often have an undergraduate degree. Employers are increasingly requiring candidates to have a bachelor's degree, but an associate degree with significant experience and one or more professional certifications is sufficient for some positions. Although academic backgrounds vary, most network admins have a degree in computer science, electrical engineering or information science.
Typical duties for a network administrator include designing and maintaining an organization’s networks, including the servers that provide email and data storage functionality. Network admins set and manage employee workstations, and make sure they remain connected to the network at all times. Network administrators can also provide technical support to employees, especially at smaller organizations. Given the rise of inexpensive Internet telephony, telecommunication networks are also frequently under the purview of network admins.
Most network administrators choose to complete one or more IT industry-related certifications. Almost all of the the major hardware and software vendors, such as IBM, Dell, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle and Red Hat, as well as several independent organizations, offer professional certifications for their products. Employers are increasingly requiring that candidates have the requisite certifications for their systems, or be able to complete the certifications within the first few months on the job.
You might have to start out as an assistant network administrator or as the junior member of a two or three man IT department at a small or medium-sized business for a year or two before moving up to full-fledged network admin. Nonprofit organizations typically can't afford to pay as much as private companies, so they frequently have IT department openings and are a good place to look to get that first couple of years of network administration experience under your belt.
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