Becoming a System Administrator
A system administrator or sysadmin is a person who is responsible for maintaining a multiuser computer, such as servers, checks system configuration and reliable operation of computer systems. The system administrator ensures the performance, resources, and security of the computer which is necessary to meet the needs of the users. To fulfill the needs a system administrator will acquire, install or upgrade the computer components and software if necessary.
Step 1: Acquire the Necessary Education
Multiple educational paths can lead to a career as a system administrator. According to the BLS, many employers prefer a system administrator with a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, if an applicant has previous work experience, a professional certificate or an associate’s degree is acceptable. A system administrator can choose from any computer-related major, such as information science or computer science. Typical coursework for these programs includes computer programming, systems design, and networking.
Complete an Internship
To get the most from your education, complete an internship. Some college training programs offer students the option of participating in an internship program to acquire industry skills and knowledge while in school. These positions usually have initial job training that allows a potential freelance system administrator jobs to become familiar with computers in a work setting.
Step 2: Find a System Administration Position
Aspiring candidates that have completed a postsecondary training program will find that there are entry-level positions in system administration. Some examples of job tasks listed for entry-level positions include designing and developing systems, as well as follow-up testing and troubleshooting networking system problems.
After working in the administrative position of the system, there are other career opportunities with additional experience and education. For example, supervisory and senior-level positions are open in large organizations. These advanced tasks go beyond monitoring and maintaining computer systems. Management positions help you determine when to make further changes or updates to your company’s computer systems.
Consider Professional Certification
It is essential to consider professional certification. Many certifications and designation opportunities are available to system administrators. These certifications are generally with specific product manufacturers. For example, Microsoft offers several certification programs for their computer products.
Stay Current with the Latest Technology
Additionally, given the fast pace of the industry, stay current with the latest technology. System administrators need to keep current with ongoing advancements and changes in technology, which can be talented through continuing education. Master’s degree programs in this field are also available and can provide advanced training in system administration.
Step 3: Join a Professional Organization
Aspiring systems administrators who wish to advance their career may consider joining a professional association, such as the National Association of System Administrators (NASA) and League of Professional System Administrators (LOPSA), which offer members access to career enhancement programs, continuing education, networking opportunities and other resources for career advancement and professional development.
To recap, with post-secondary education, experience, and possibly certification, a system administrator can make about $78,000 to support, install, and design a company’s network and computer systems.
Where can system administrators work and live best?
Although the salary is necessary, we have to consider other factors when evaluating which state is the best for system administrators. One significant expense is usually housing, so we looked into how rent varies by state. The 20-30-50 budgeting ratio dictates that you should spend no more than 30% of your budget on housing (you save 20%, and the other 50% is for all additional expenses).
System Administrator Salary
Mid-level SysAdmin salaries tend to be lower than other more specialized IT administrator salaries, but it’s still a great place to start, and there are plenty of more senior roles to progress into after cutting your teeth.
It is generally a reasonably broad IT role and usually entails overseeing internal servers, installation of hardware and software, setup and management of user accounts, and performing backups and recoveries. Essentially, a SysAdmin is there to make sure their organization’s computer systems are well maintained and reliable.
Depending on the size of the company (and who’s writing the job description), there may be some crossover between the title of System Administrator and Network Administrator. However, strictly speaking, network administrators focus on how computers work together, and system administrators work with the computer system itself.
If you work for a smaller organization that doesn’t have a large IT department, the role of administrator can get a little blurry; you may also be relied upon to look after networks, install and maintain peripherals, and fix Sandra from Accounting’s phone when she drops it in the sink.
A degree in Computer Science, Web Technology, or similar is usually sought after by employers recruiting for a SysAdmin role, and most will also require a few years’ experience administrating computer systems. You’ll also be your organizations’ go-to troubleshooter, so excellent communication skills — and a whole lot of patience — are essential. Certifications can also give you a leg-up, with Server+, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, and Red Hat accreditations being the most highly regarded.
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