How Do You Become a Network Systems Administrator?

Network Systems AdministratorMost computer systems are used to share information of a professional or personal nature via networks, and to become a network systems administrator for an organization is an aspiration of many in the information technology (IT) industry. Network systems administrators monitor, maintain and secure networks so that they can be used as designed. Here are some key steps to take on one’s path to becoming a network systems administrator.

Education and Training

The IT industry is unique in the way that it provides some really great job opportunities without requiring that employment candidates have IT related degrees, and the field of network systems administration is one that rewards practitioners for verifiable skills and experience. However, increasing levels of job competition and slow economic times have prompted many prospective network systems administrators to obtain Bachelor of IT in Networking or Bachelor of Science in Computer Network and System Administration degrees. Some common course topics in these degree programs include network architecture, computer system security and database management. Besides learning the hands on technical aspects of installing computer systems and diagnosing network related issues, these degree programs often include courses in project management that help to prepare graduates for progressively responsible leadership roles later in their careers. A common alternative to an undergraduate degree in network systems administration is an associate’s degree in the subject. These two year degree programs expose students to the foundational elements of networking, operating systems, servers, databases and information security.

Industry Certifications

Obtaining well recognized and respected industry certifications is a common step taken by prospective network systems administrators to enter the career field. Many people have on the job experience in network systems administration, and earning an industry certificate is a great way to verify one’s knowledge and skills without spending a lot of time and money gaining a degree in the subject. For example, some students enroll in schools that offer Certified Network Administrator programs, and other students look to industry to get credentials like the Certified Cisco Network Administrator designation. These programs are also beneficial for IT professionals who want to refresh their skills and enhance their job prospects through continuous education.

Professional Association Membership

Becoming a member of a professional association is one way that a network systems administrator can position themselves for life long learning opportunities. For example, organizations like Association of Information Technology Professionals provides its members with professional publications that highlight the latest challenges faced by IT departments. Members have access to hands on workshops that are led by industry leaders as well as opportunities to network with their peers. Some professional associations also help members by offering at discounted rates training and certification programs that can enhance their job knowledge and make them more visible to top industry employers.

Social Media Networking

Network systems administrators usually exploit another form of networking when they market themselves for employment purposes. The social media platform called LinkedIn is the primary networking avenue that both passive and active job seekers use to put their talents and accomplishments on display. Their professional reputations are often supported by others in their network who can verify their credentials, performance and general work ethics.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the network system administrator career is one that promises great job growth potential well into the next decade. However, one who wants to become a network systems administrator must cultivate their critical thinking and analytical problem solving skills because a large part of the job involves optimizing network performance and troubleshooting.