What Degree is Needed To Become a Network Systems Administrator?

Network Systems AdministratorNearly every organization requires the skills of network systems administrator, but the degree needed to become a network systems administrator is highly dependent on the specific job that is to be performed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For example, some employers will hire network systems administrators who have certificates or associate’s degrees in network systems administration for jobs in small organizations with non-critical systems. Other employers require candidates to have an undergraduate degree minimally, and they prefer candidates with advanced degrees when hiring for large organizations with complex, mission critical systems. Generally, network systems administrators maintain their company’s network by providing needed updates, troubleshooting issues and setting up computer systems for new users. Here are just some examples of the undergraduate degree programs that many IT professionals use to prepare themselves for the role of network systems administrator.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Networking and System Administration

The degree that best fits the role of network systems administrator is the undergraduate degree in computer networking and systems administration. Most of these degree programs introduce students to the basics of computer design that include its software and hardware, but the degree also introduces students to specific core course topics that relate to networks. For example, some of the core course topics are digital communications, database administration, introduction to Linux operating systems and information security. Besides theoretical class room study, students enrolled in this degree program usually are able to gain hands on training in laboratories where they learn to build computer networks from the ground up.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Computer science is usually thought to benefit future computer programmers the most, but program curricula found at most schools include the study of computer software, hardware, firmware and networks. Besides exposure to theoretical knowledge about these computer components, students also learn how these elements work together to benefit business organizations, research scientists and manufacturing firms. It is this practical application of computing technology that best prepares them to maintain company networks. Specific courses in computer architecture and advanced computer networks are ones that particularly pertain to the role of network systems administrator.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering

Computer engineering programs focus on the details of circuitry design that supports both hardware and software. Most courses focus on construction of computer networks, architecture and large scale hardware systems. More rigorous computer engineering degree programs prepare students to test and register as professional engineers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer engineers made an annual median salary of $100,920 in 2012. However, computer engineering jobs are highly competitive, and job growth is projected to be slower than average. Becoming a network systems administrator allows a computer engineer to begin their career in a related field while establishing their professional reputation and gathering relevant experience for more challenging positions.

Bachelor of Science in Network Engineering

Network engineering majors learn how to design, construct and manage networks that adapt to the needs of specific organizations. They are also exposed to the latest techniques in network security. These are all skills that are used by network system administrators to configure, maintain and trouble shoot networks.


Computer networks are at the heart of most companies’ communication systems, and network administrators help to keep those systems working smoothly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median average salary for network systems administrators was $72,560 in 2012, and the job usually includes occasional business trips for conferences designed to refresh job knowledge. Many IT professionals find that these benefits are well worth the investment in a degree needed to become a network systems administrator.