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How To Become A Network Administrator: Degree and Career Guide
There are many things that come to mind when you think of a network. You may think of a network of computers, the connectivity of your device to a data network, or you may even think of an underground train network.
However, in terms of the digital sphere, if you are hoping to pursue a role as a network administrator, chances are that you will be working in an organization whereby all computers and digital systems are linked together in an intricate digital network that assists the organization in achieving its daily operations.
To become a network administrator, you would need to first gain your qualification, you would need to complete an internship to gain experience, you would need to build a network, and then you will be ready to get to work and find the job you are hoping to work in.
Let us take a closer look at this field and what you would need to do to be fully prepared to fulfill this role.
What Is A Network Administrator?
When you think of a big business or organization, in most cases there are multiple employees, and each employee is connected to the organization's internal digital operations platform.
The connections and links that each computer has to the organization's mainframe are made up of an intricate network of computers and other technological infrastructure and devices to assist each employee in working and meeting the objectives of the company's daily operations and long-term goals.
For all computers within in an organization to successfully function in a single, multi-faceted system, there needs to be someone dedicated to managing and overseeing all aspects of that network. All aspects of the network that are related to the technological aspects of a business will be managed, streamlined, and optimized by this individual.
Beyond the internal data network and internal connections and links between all devices, a network administrator will also make sure that all devices connected to the organization's internet are working optimally without any security risks or breaches.
When you consider that organizations and companies vary in size with different numbers of employees that need to successfully communicate with each other internally, you realize that these organizations need networks of varied sizes that will accommodate the different functional demands.
Network administrators will build and construct the network systems for the organization so that all internal computers and devices can effectively communicate with each other, maintaining internal efficiency.
What Do Network Administrators Do?
To successfully establish and maintain an organization's network, a network administrator will be responsible for running tests, inspections, and diagnostics on the internal network and devising plans and strategies to remedy all tech-related issues within the network.
They are the ones who are responsible for installing hardware and software on a company's computer and linking it up with any main networks and servers that exist, they need to establish security within the network such as firewalls and security for the hardware such as making sure all devices are password protected in case of theft. They will also need to monitor, identify, and optimize all network-related variables, and they would need to optimize network speed.
While many computers need to work together to complete the operations within an organization on a daily basis, they are also responsible for restricting access in different divisions. For example, salespersons will not be able to access the financial details and salary information of all employees, despite being connected to the same network.
Network administrators also play an important role in onboarding and training employees on the network system and network usage of the organization.
Steps To Become A Network Administrator
Step One: Choose The Best Path For You
Within the field of network administration, there are a few fields of specialization that you can choose from. The reason why you would need to make this choice quite early on in your career is so that you can decide what coursework and educational prospects you should choose.
You can choose to focus on network security, systems analysis, data analysis, or software development.
Step Two: Obtain Your Bachelor's Degree
There are several qualifications that you can pursue to become a network administrator, but it will largely depend on the requirements of your employer on whether or not you should pursue an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. In very rare instances or for extremely high-level roles, an employer will require you to have a graduate or master's degree.
You can choose to obtain your degree in network administration, software engineering, computer science, network management, or information technology. If you decide to choose any of these majors, you will be equipped with all the skills you need to be a successful network administrator.
Step Three: Get An Internship
There are many ways that you can get direct industry-related experience. To avoid any delay in getting started in their career, many people opt to complete an internship while they complete their degree program. Alternatively, you can apply for an internship or an entry-level role once you have completed your degree program.
Step Four: Gain Experience
There is no experience quite like on-the-job experience where you can learn from people who have been in the field for many years and acquire skills and knowledge that haven't always been taught in classes. Gaining direct experience will propel you into your career and into success.
In this same stride, you can also build your own professional network of people who can provide you with learning and job opportunities and who can help you be a successful network administrator.
What Skills Do You Need To Be A Network Administrator?
It would be expected that if you seek to pursue a career as a network administrator you have a natural inkling toward computers and the technical aspect of business operations. You would need to understand how networks work and you would need to know how to operate these network systems.
You would need to have critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, and you would need to be able to multitask, pay attention to detail and be extremely organized.
Since you will be working with several employees within an organization, you would also need to have great people skills and superior communication skills.
What Is The Work Environment For Network Administrators?
As a network administrator, you may not be able to successfully complete your role and your duties if you are working remotely as you may need to run diagnostics directly on internal computers.
In most cases, network administrators can easily find roles within academic institutes, hospitals and government facilities, corporate offices, financial institutes, and anywhere else where many employees need to work collaboratively on a single network.
What Is The Salary And Job Outlook For Network Administrators?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), network and computer systems administrators earn a median annual salary of $80,600. The employment of network administrators expects to see a 3% growth over the next ten years with 23,900 openings projected each year.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Network Administrator?
With a bachelor's degree and the prospect of pursuing an internship, it can take anywhere between three to five years to become a qualified network administrator.
What Companies Hire Network Administrators?
Several organizations hire and employ network administrators such as Google, and the role is in extremely high demand even within the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
If you have a natural inclination toward seamlessly connecting several digital devices to work in a wonderful synergy toward a common goal, then perhaps the career of a network administrator is the best for you. You will be able to provide companies with internal network connections and that in itself is a vital role to play.
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