How to Become a
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
Network administrators have the important task of installing, supporting, and managing computer systems and networks. Their work keeps information flowing. These experts ensure that software and hardware are properly maintained.
The demand for these professionals is rising and this is an excellent time to start the process of becoming a network administrator. If you want to consider a career in this field, this guide highlights the important steps and other vital information you need to know about.
What Is a Network Administrator?
Network administrators implement, manage and troubleshoot a company’s network. This professional looks at the needs of the company and oversees the communication systems. This process ensures that information moves properly within the organization.
The network administrator checks data to ensure that the system remains optimized. In this role, you will look out for problems caused by users or the network itself. In addition, when new users join the network, you will act as a trainer. This support extends to instruction on uploading and downloading materials.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become a Network Administrator?
You can attend a community college or a university to become a network administrator. Many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree, but this is beginning to change. There are also more resources now to learn the ropes of network administration.
These new ways of working towards a career in network administration include online courses that teach the basics and even the deeper details of the topic. Some coding bootcamps even offer this program within their curriculum.
Best Network Administrator Education Tracks
If you want to become a network administrator, you first need to consider the right education track. There are many, so choosing the right one for your circumstances will make the process smoother and hassle-free.
Many community colleges have associate degree programs for aspiring network administrators. The program wraps up within two years. Students learn communication skills, network administration, Linux and Unix, and troubleshooting.
If you plump for this option, you will also pick up customer service and organizational skills. You will also get to grips with Cisco Systems, a major player in the IT and networking sphere. Firewalls, software installation, server operating systems and research skills are also part of the program.
Network Administrator Degree
Universities also have network administration programs and offer four-year-long bachelor’s degrees. If that doesn’t work for you, employers will consider those with a degree in any other related course. So, you can look to gain a degree in information technology or computer science instead. Many programs offer internships to give you key practical training.
Network Administrator Bootcamps
Coding bootcamps are short and immersive tech programs. They take less time to complete and are a cheaper alternative to degrees. These programs are also more flexible because they can be taken online to fit around your job, for example.
Not all bootcamps do not offer network administration training as a standalone program. However, many have a network administration module within their cyber security programs. Since several bootcamps also offer internship opportunities, you can also gain real-world experience.
Network Administrator Courses
If you want to teach yourself network administration, there are some online resources that can help. Lots of short-term courses on teaching platforms like Udemy and LinkedIn are great resources to start with. Topics covered include networking essentials, Arista Networks, and Cisco CCNA Router.
Note that most of these programs are not free. You will be expected to pay a fee to enroll. It can help, but without the structured curriculum of a bootcamp or university, you may not get your money’s worth.
How to Become a Network Administrator: A Step-by-Step Guide
Becoming a network administrator requires a lot of planning and thought. It has a proven track and this path will help you meet your goal. You should be ready to do your best in all stages so you can stand out from the competition as quickly as possible.
Below are the steps to take to become a network administrator.
Get a degree
Being educated is the first step. You need to decide if you will choose a university, community college, or a coding bootcamp pathway. The choices all lead you to the same result. The only difference is the time it will take.
Narrow your choice of specialty
When you have chosen a path to follow, pick your specialty. It may help you in the future to have a specialty in the field. Some schools offer standalone specialty courses but others offer a specialized course within a bigger program. Select the one that suits you best.
You need to be certified to become a network administrator. There is a wide choice of certifications. However, you should consider prominent certifications offered by CompTIA Network+, SolarWinds Certified Professional, and Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP).
An internship is the best way to get hands-on experience in the field. It allows you to get a clearer idea of the day-to-day activities of the professionals in your field. It also gives you a chance to learn from them and add depth to your resume.
Find a job
After completing an internship, you need to start applying for entry-level positions. Check on websites and network with people who share your interests in tech. You may just get a referral.
Key Network Administrator Skills
As a network administrator, there are a lot of skills you need to have. Together with the necessary technical competencies, you need other soft skills to interact and work effectively with others in the company.
Below are the main skills you should have to thrive as a network administrator.
As a professional network administrator, you need to possess great oral communication skills. You should be able to discuss ongoing work with others in the company or procedures for switching the server systems. You should also be able to effectively communicate maintenance operations to colleagues.
In addition, you will need to speak to clients about technical issues. This means you need to be able to explain the terms clearly in a way people will understand. Strong communication is a very important tool to have in this line of work.
Math skills are essential in this department. You need to be able to use roots, powers, significant digits, and scientific notation. This information will help you to report the available space on the network.
Competency in math is also necessary to help you analyze data on output and input operations. This is the way you will identify the changes in performance and usage of the network and mainframes.
As a network administrator, you need to be a whizz at using the Internet for different purposes. You will often have to find troubleshooting information for hardware and software setup issues. Having a raft of technical support sites in your online arsenal is also handy.
Network Administrator Salary and Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of network and computer systems administrators was $84,810 in 2020. The profession also reported a four percent growth in keeping with other occupations.
As the world is advancing digitally, more companies are investing in new technology that requires network administrators. There is also a rising demand for cloud computing by businesses of different sizes. These businesses also need professionals to coordinate their mobile networks.
Entry-Level Network Administrator Job Requirements
Many employers prefer a Bachelor’s Degree or an Associate Degree in Network Administration. In the absence of these qualifications, a degree in computer science or information technology can work as well. In the same vein, post-secondary candidates also stand a chance if they are well-skilled.
What Does a Network Administrator Do?
These experts are in charge of a business computer system, from software security to hardware installation. They focus on system performance in some corporations. Most of their day is spent installing new software and checking the network system is running smoothly.
Below are a network administrator’s key responsibilities.
These professionals analyze the needs of the organization. You will maintain and install software and hardware to meet the needs you have identified. Also, you will solve other problems that arise within the network along the way.
Implementation also includes configuring application and network software, and establishing user accounts. In addition, expect to lay out and connect cables, plus install storage area networks.
This role includes training any new users on the network. You may also need to update the network, maintain user accounts, and monitor daily server traffic.
Other tasks include updating security software, scheduling backups, setting up access privileges, and performing scheduled tests.
Network administrators respond swiftly to user reports when there are service interruptions. You will analyze logs and apply the proper solutions. Adjusting software configurations to fix issues within the network, installing patches, rebooting the system and restoring faulty connections are all tasks that fall under your responsibility.
Network Administrator Certifications
There are several certifications for network administrators. Being certified will improve your chances of landing the job because it illustrates that you have the required skills. The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) issues several industry-recognized certifications which we have listed below.
CompTIA A+ Certification
This certification is a great starting point. You are introduced to fundamental software and hardware disciplines, including networking and cyber security, PC repair, and desktop support.
This certification is the next level after the A+ certification. It focuses on networking topics like administration, installation, security, and troubleshooting. You need an A+ certification to take the exam.
This certification is for entry-level candidates. It is the minimum security knowledge required for jobs in law-enforcement network administration. In the US, you need this certification to gain administrative access to a Department of Defense network.
How to Prepare for Your Network Administrator Job Interview
Network administration job interviews can be technical in most cases. The interviewer wants to assess your level of experience and determine if your skills are a match for the job.
Below are some potential job interview questions to expect.
Network Administrator Job Interview Practice Questions
- What tools do you need when you’re troubleshooting?
- What kinds of networks have you worked with in the past as a network administrator?
- How can you stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the industry? Do you prepare for major changes?
- What is the best authentication protocol for network access, and why?
How Long Does It Take to Become a Network Administrator?
It can take a few weeks to up to four years to become a network administrator. The length of your training largely depends on the method of training. If you choose to train yourself with online courses, it may take a longer or shorter time depending on how fast you assimilate the subject.
Associate degrees last for two years and bachelor’s degrees four years. Another good option is coding bootcamps. On average, these programs last 13 weeks.
Should You Become a Network Administrator in 2021?
You should become a network administrator in 2021 if you love to work with computer software and hardware. You may also need to manage others around you. If this is something you enjoy, then the profession is an excellent career choice for you.
Networks and systems are essential in companies. As the corporation grows, the networks and systems will expand. This means that the demand for network administrators will increase accordingly.
Network Administrator FAQ
Can you become a network administrator without a degree?
While employers prefer experts with a degree in network administration or computer science, some still accept those with certificates or associate degrees. Coding bootcamps also allow you to become a network administrator without a degree.
What does a network administrator do?
A network administrator takes charge of the daily activities of the company’s network. This expert maintains, installs, and supports computer systems. They handle both hardware and software.
How long does it take to become a network administrator?
It can take from a few weeks up to four years. The process depends on the educational path you choose. The quickest route is a coding bootcamp offering a specialty course.
Which certification is ideal for network administration?
Some of the best certifications include CompTIA Network+, Cisco CCNA and CCNP, SolarWinds Certified Professional, and Wireshark WCNA.