How to Become a Network Administrator (With Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 29, 2022

Published November 5, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Most businesses and organizations have computers connected to networks, which typically require maintenance by one or more professionals. Network administrators are the primary individuals that oversee the management of these systems using a variety of technical and soft skills. Understanding the prerequisites for becoming a network specialist can help you determine if this is the right career for you. In this article, we discuss how to become a network administrator, explore what network administrators do, review the essential skills for the role, and examine their average salary and typical job outlook.

Key steps for how to become a network administrator

Here's a list of steps to follow if you're interested in learning how to become a network administrator:

1. Acquire a degree

Most businesses look for network administrators with bachelor's degrees in information technology, computer science, computer engineering, or a closely related discipline. A bachelor's degree in one of these technical fields can give you advanced knowledge and skills in areas such as computer network installation, maintenance, administration, security, network design, basic programming, and routers and switches. It's also valuable to get hands-on training, take part in internships, gain field experience, and work part-time while pursuing a degree.

You can also pursue a master's degree in a specific area of networking. Specializing in networking can help you qualify for more specialized jobs and potentially increase your earning potential.

Related: Computer Degrees You Can Pursue and the Skills You Need

2. Obtain certification

While not all businesses require certification, getting one might help you stand out as a candidate. Many professional organizations offer credentials for network administrators in areas such as network configuration, security, and troubleshooting. Keep in mind that many certifications require annual renewal through ongoing education and tests.

3. Accumulate experience

Practical experience is a necessary component of becoming a certified network administrator. On-the-job training typically begins with your first entry-level position and lasts the duration of your career. There are numerous opportunities to obtain experience and diversify your portfolio, including developing your networking initiative, supporting senior specialists, and volunteering for family, friends, or small enterprises. When you believe you have mastered the skills required for your current work, gain additional skills to further improve your portfolio.

4. Pursue entry-level opportunities

Many network professionals begin their careers as technical support technicians or help desk specialists. On-the-job training is often critical for acquiring the skills necessary to succeed as a network specialist and progress to new jobs. Formal training may include documenting network problems, monitoring networks, and providing technical help to entry-level employees.

5. Determine your path

As you gain expertise, there may be many options to specialize your skills. Computer networking professions can vary significantly by sector, technology, and company. Considering which aspects of network administration are most appealing to you can help you define your career path and pursue specific opportunities. After gaining entry-level experience, you may have many choices for where to specialize in the industry, including the following roles:

  • Network manager

  • Network specialist

  • Network analyst

  • Network technician

  • Network engineer

  • Network solutions architect

What is a network administrator?

A network administrator ensures that a business's computer network operates smoothly and is up to date. Every business that uses multiple computers or software platforms has a network administrator to coordinate and link the various systems. These tasks may appear similar and occasionally overlap with those of a systems administrator, but their positions become increasingly distinct as a company grows larger. The job responsibilities of a network administrator may vary significantly based on the organization's size and requirements. Some administrators have more general jobs, while others may have specialized responsibilities.

While each role is unique, most network administrators perform several functions regardless of their location. These include:

  • Configuring network hardware components, such as servers, routers, and switches

  • Upgrading, repairing and maintaining computer networks

  • Investigating and resolving a variety of network problems

  • Assisting network architects in developing network models

  • Distributing and maintaining software across the organization

  • Managing operating systems and servers

  • Implementing security measures

  • Managing network storage on-premises and in the cloud

Critical skills to become a network administrator

While many technical skills can help network experts carry out their activities and fulfill their responsibilities, some skills are typically more important to the role. Technical skills can help network administrators resolve a problem, while soft skills can help them locate the problem, communicate it to coworkers, and collaborate with a team to prevent future difficulties. The following are skills that are important for network administrators:

Communication skills

Most network administrators regularly use their written and verbal communication skills. These skills enable them to work effectively with clients, coworkers, and other IT professionals. As a result, they often connect with individuals who have diverse degrees of technological skill. While their IT colleagues may understand sophisticated or technical concepts, network administrators can translate this information for clients or coworkers who may not have the technical skills. They will also employ active listening skills to learn about clients' network problems and requirements, enabling them to recommend effective solutions.

Related: Guide to Verbal Communication Skills

Technical skills

A significant portion of a network administrator's job responsibilities involves working with technology. As a result, they typically require a high level of technical knowledge to perform their duties, including understanding computer systems, routing, hardware and software settings, and information security. These abilities enable network administrators to assist clients and colleagues with troubleshooting and resolving technical issues. Network administrators frequently gain these abilities through official education or training, and on-the-job experience.

Problem-solving skills

While on the job, network administrators may encounter software, hardware, or network difficulties. Good problem-solving skills will help them examine problems and devise acceptable solutions. They frequently combine these skills with their technical knowledge to assist clients and colleagues with difficulties. These experts may use their problem-solving skills to find and implement solutions to improve an organization's network and information technology systems, such as maintenance tasks or upgrades.

Related: How To Problem-Solve in the Workplace

Organizational skills

Network administrators require strong organizational skills to ensure the integrity of the systems and networks they oversee. They also typically create user guides for new users and change logs for network updates. Using their attention to detail, these professionals can create detailed documentation to help new users and future IT team members understand the organization's systems or networks.

Related: Developing Proficient Organizational Skills

Critical thinking

Critical thinking abilities can demonstrate a network administrator's capacity to conduct in-depth examinations. These specialists understand how diverse systems may interact and affect each other in networking. Network administrators can apply critical thinking abilities to examine work situations and find solutions based on their existing knowledge and resources. For instance, their employer may require them to address security breaches and devise a response strategy. They may research or pose questions to uncover viable solutions, then evaluate each for feasibility and efficacy.

Read more: 6 Critical Thinking Skills and Why They are Important at Work

Research skills

Network administrators may use their research abilities to discover solutions to work-related challenges. They will gather information about the subject and conduct online searches or consult with the appropriate colleagues. Strong research skills may also assist network administrators with other professional obligations, such as network development or client system recommendation. For instance, they may research the compatibility of various pieces of hardware and software. They can also find supporting facts to offer customers or organizations accurate and persuasive network suggestions.

Interpersonal skills

Network administrators frequently show clients and colleagues how to use the software they deploy or build. Strong interpersonal skills can lead to positive interactions with these stakeholders. For instance, network administrators can benefit from demonstrating patience and empathy while interacting with newer employees. These characteristics can assist them in establishing trusted relationships at work. When a network administrator is trustworthy, others may be more willing to rely on them for help. This characteristic can also show organizational executives and clients that you can handle essential duties.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Multitasking skills

Network administrators frequently balance long-term network developments with day-to-day troubleshooting efforts. These experts' multitasking abilities allow them to shift their focus between tasks as required. Network administrators may employ a variety of multitasking skills, including delegation and task prioritization. These abilities enable them to arrange their responsibilities and schedule their time effectively, helping to ensure that they complete the most critical tasks first. They can also assign duties to team members, allowing them to focus on higher-priority work.

Creativity skills

Network administrators may benefit from developing their creativity skills for a variety of reasons. For instance, creative thinking can assist them in developing novel network architectures or technical solutions. This talent can foster inquisitiveness and experimentation, which they can t use to continue learning about and experimenting with new ideas to improve their work.

Salary and job outlook for network administrators

The national average salary for a network administrator is $69,425 per year. Network administrators are often in high demand as organizations invest in newer, faster technologies, such as mobile networks and computer systems. The Government of Canada Job Bank predicts that the national labour demand and supply for this occupation class will remain consistent for the 2019-2028 timeframe.

If you want to become a network administrator, developing the essential skills required for this profession and going through each of the steps listed above will help you get off on the right foot.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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