How Can I Become a Computer Systems Administrator?

Explore the career requirements for computer systems administrators. Get the facts about education and certification requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Computer Systems Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Computer Systems Administrator?

Computer systems administrators design, install and support computer networks for businesses and other organizations. Prior to this, however, they are responsible for establishing the exact computer needs of that business or organization. They are also responsible for maintaining desktop and mobile computing equipment and software used by employees as well as training of those employees in the proper use of the technology. They also act as troubleshooters when problems arise in the operation of the system.

The following chart provides an overview about this career.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Computer science, information systems, computer engineering, electrical engineering
Key Responsibilities Analyze computer system needs for the organization; install, maintain, upgrade and repair computer system and equipment; set up user accounts; maintain system security
Certification Employers may require certification offered by software design companies
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8%*
Median Salary (2015) $77,810*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Education Do I Need To Be a Computer Systems Administrator?

To pursue a career as a computer systems administrator, you should first equip yourself with a bachelor's degree in network and computer-systems administration. These degree programs introduce you to the fundamental concepts behind systems administration, including Windows, Unix and Linux infrastructure and systems programming. As a student, you also study related topics such as database administration, systems security and Web programming. You should be able to complete this program in four years of full-time study.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

As a computer systems administrator, your primary responsibility is supporting and maintaining an organization's computer network. This entails maintaining the efficient operation of wireless and local area networks along with the Internet and intranet systems. In addition, you are responsible for ensuring that these networks are secure from cyber threats. Some of your time may be spent troubleshooting network problems, such as system compatibility issues or the introduction of new technologies. You may also work on an on-call basis to provide 24-hour network support.

Will Certification Help Me Get a Job?

Product vendors, vocational schools and other organizations offer industry certifications. These are designed to demonstrate proficiency with a particular product or system. They are usually voluntary, but some employers may require job candidates to have a specific certification. Industry certification does not guarantee employment, but can make you more marketable.

What Can I Expect To Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual salary for computer systems administrators was $77,810 as of May, 2015. Because computer systems administrators are employed in nearly every segment of industry and commerce, there exists a wide salary range for this occupation. Maryland and New Jersey were reported by the BLS as the two top-paying states for this position as of May 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Computer programmers write the code that enables computer systems to operate as they are intended. They are actually translators, who render the programs designed into a language that the computer can understand and put into effect. They are also responsible for testing existing programs and updating them as necessary.

In order to ensure optimum operation, businesses and organizations also use the services of computer systems analysts. These individuals are essentially efficiency experts who examine an organization's computer systems. Through consultation with management, they design modifications to systems to improve the overall operation of that organization.

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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