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Systems Administrator


How to Become a Systems Administrator
Systems Administrator Job Description
Skills and Qualities of a Systems Administrator
Systems Administrator Salary
Influential Professional in this Field
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Systems Administration Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Systems Administrator

As our world becomes increasingly reliant on technology and computers, including networks and servers, systems administrators also increase in importance. Just recently, in fact, Womenco.Com rated system administration as the sixth most recession-proof job (out of a listing of twenty published mid-October 2008).

So how does one become a systems administrator? Those candidates who have open to them the most varied and lucrative opportunities have a formal college education. Of course, this can mean a few different levels of education. One can get a Bachelor's degree in either computer science or information systems. Alternately one can obtain an associate degree in a computer-related topic.

Aside from (and often in conjunction with) a formal college education, one can earn his or her certification, and then gain some experience in the field. One of the most well known certification programs is taught by Microsoft, certifying individuals in networking skills and programming languages such as C++. As for that experience, the best way to gain it is by taking an entry level position, or an internship.

After obtaining one's degree, certification and participating in some hands-on training, one is ready to enter the field in earnest as a systems administrator. Often times, system administrators undergo training within their jobs as well, because every company runs differently; every network is operated differently. While the basic skills will be congruent with those learned during one's education, he or she may find that the company one works for has specific methods in place that are unique to their systems.

What does a Systems Administrator do?

The tasks of a systems administrator can be separated into three unique categories, those being: customer support, day-to-day administration and maintenance and support of computer systems and networks (including security administration). Depending on one's job title and skills, he or she may be required to complete all of these tasks, or they may be delegated separately among a team of systems administrators.

Customer support usually involves serving as a "help desk." Customers who have questions regarding the system or network will either email or call in with questions, and it is the job of the systems administrator working in the capacity of the help desk to help these customers resolve any issues.

Day-to-day administration and maintenance often comprises a large portion of work that is completed by systems administrators. This often includes tasks such as ensuring all elements of the system are efficiently working together. Maintenance means fixing any bugs or problems that might arise in the regular tasks completed by the system itself.

Support for computer systems and networks is crucial to the success of any system. These tasks often require implementation of security measures so that the network remains safe.

If these tasks are delegated to a team, the team must work closely together in order to ensure system functionality and ultimate success. If one systems administrator is given all three of these sorts of tasks, he or she must not neglect any of these three types of tasks for the same reason.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Systems Administrator?

Because systems administrators must work on a variety of tasks throughout the course of their jobs, a myriad of skills and qualities are also required. If you're seeking to become a systems administrator, you will need the following skills or qualities: problem solving, analytical thinking, the ability to communicate effectively, design and programming skills, coordination, organization, data gathering, computer and network skills and customer service skills.

Analytical thinking and problem solving work hand in hand together to give you the ability to approach a problem logically and evaluate possible solutions. Without this skill, a systems administrator would be unsuccessful in maintaining and supporting the systems with which he or she works.

Communication skills are key. You may have to write, both in correspondence with customers as well as when composing system manuals. Following communication skills, customer service skills are imperative for any systems administrator asked to function as a "help desk."

Design and programming skills are necessary for maintenance and network improvement, such as the implementation of security systems within the network. In that same vein, computer and network skills, and a thorough understanding of how computers and networks work, is imperative for the success of a systems administrator. If he or she doesn't know how to intricately work a computer, then he or she will not be able to analyze the network.

Data gathering, organization skills and the ability to coordinate efforts are skills that will aid you in your endeavors as a systems administrator because these skills allow you not only to understand what's going on within a network, but also to implement additional procedures that will increase system efficiency.

How much does a Systems Administrator make?

Though salary can vary depending on local living cost and the company for which you work, salary ranges for system administration are $53,103 - $87,881, while fifty percent of systems administrators in the United States earn $60,959 - $79,163. An estimation of a biweekly paycheck, based on the median salary, is $1,961.15 after appropriate taxes are removed.

Of course, different states may take different percentages for tax. Additionally, salary can be affected


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Dr. Fern Halper, now a partner at Hurwitz & Associates, prior Senior Vice President for the Hurwitz Group, has over twenty years of experience in this field. Dr. Theodore Omtzigt is currently the CEO and founder of StillWater Computing, Inc after more than sixteen years of experience in the field. Previously, Omtzigt worked with Intel and NVIDIA.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Some of the top organizations where aspiring systems administrators might begin job searches include CIGNA, Robert Half Technology, Maintenance Engineering Ltd and KForce Technology Staffing.

What are the top cities for Systems Administration jobs?

Those seeking a career in systems administration would do well to search in New York City, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles.

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