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Systems Analyst Vs. Network Administrator

by Terri Williams

Computer and information technology is one of the fastest growing industries in the country and offers a variety of jobs with lucrative salaries and promising futures. Those with the analytical and technical skills to understand, develop, install and maintain computer systems have several career paths to choose from. Computer systems analysts and computer network administrators are two such career choices, each offering distinct job features.

Systems Analysts Job and Environment

Computer systems analysts examine an organization’s existing computer systems and recommend ways to use technology more effectively. They research the costs and benefits of new technologies and implementation. After developing new systems, which consists of configuring hardware and software, they perform tests to ensure smooth system operations, train the staff and provide instruction manuals. Most computer systems analysts work at computer systems design and related services, for finance and insurance firms, information companies, the government and for organizations that manage companies and enterprises.

Network Administrators Job and Environment

Computer network administrators handle the day-to-day computer duties of an organization. They manage the company’s servers, which involves installing computer hardware and software, performing upgrades and repairs and taking security measures to protect the network from cyber attacks. They also troubleshoot any problems with the network or individual employee workstations and provide technical support to various users. Network administrators work for computer systems design and related services, educational institutions, finance and insurance firms, manufacturing companies and telecommunications firms.

Systems Analysts Salary and Education

According to May 2012 salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer systems analysts earned a mean annual wage of $83,800, or a mean hourly wage of $40.29, The BLS reports the demand for computer systems analysts will grow by 22 percent between 2010 and 2020. This is much faster than the 14 percent average growth rate predicted for all other U.S. occupations. Computer systems analysts need a bachelor’s degree in a computer or information-science related field, although some employers prefer a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in information systems. On the other hand, some analysts only have an associate or a liberal arts degree, but they have extensive experience.

Network Administrators Salary and Education

The BLS reports that network administrators earned a mean annual wage of $76,320, or an hourly wage of $36.69. With a 28 percent estimated growth rate between 2010 and 2020, the demand for network administrators is even higher than it is for systems analysts. The educational requirements for this profession also varies greatly. Most network administrators have a bachelor’s degree in computer and information science, although computer engineering and electrical engineering are also acceptable degrees. Some employers prefer a master’s degree, while others will accept an associate degree or even a postsecondary certificate in a computer-related field if the applicant has relevant experience.

Final Analysis

Computer systems analysts and network administrators are both computer information technology professions in high demand that pay lucrative salaries. Both jobs require analytical skills to process complex information. However, a systems analyst position may appeal more to a person who is also creative and can design systems and formulate innovative solutions to computer technology problems. On the other hand, network administrators should be comfortable being responsible for an organization’s entire computer network and routinely troubleshooting any problems that arise.

About the Author

Terri Williams began writing professionally in 1997, working with a large nonprofit organization. Her articles have appeared in various online publications including Yahoo, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report University Directory, and the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Photo Credits

  • Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images