How Do I Become a Certified Network Administrator?

A network administrator oversees the operations of a computer network and has a vital role in any business or organization. Confidence in that person's ability is often established by the appropriate certification. Schools offering Computer Networking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Certification Process

The goals of certification are to acquire and refine skills and also to validate existing abilities. There are a large number of certifications that apply to the job of network administrator. Whatever their differences, the process for obtaining them is similar. Students must have the appropriate levels of experience and training to pass a certification exam.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Median Salary (2014) $75,790 (for computer and network administrators)
Entry-level Education Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 12% (for computer and network administrators)
Work Environment Various organizations and industries

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


While a few entry-level certifications can apply to the complete novice, most certification programs assume a degree of familiarity with the requisite hardware and software. Many students choose to use a combination of self-directed study, traditional, or online class work and hands-on lab experience to prepare for the certification exam. Such training may be obtained through college degree programs, technical institutes, or vendor-authorized providers.


Exams can be difficult and time limited. There may be several components, some required and some elective. Preparatory materials and pre-tests are usually available. Costs usually depend upon the sophistication of the certification.

Common Vendor Certifications

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification offers specializations in Windows Server 2007 and 2008, as well as SQL Server and the Windows operating system.

Cisco Certifications

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification covers the installation and maintenance of Cisco hardware for a medium-sized network. There are specializations in wireless, security, and voice. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification is designed for administration of larger networks.

Novell Certifications

While this operating system is not as prevalent as Microsoft's, a few versions of the Certified Novell Administrator (CNA) certification are available.

Vendor-neutral Certifications

Certifications which don't support a specific product line are available. These include the A+ and Network+ certifications from CompTIA. Certifications for Linux, the open source software, also exist.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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