Windows System Administrator Job Facts

Explore the career requirements for Windows 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 Does a System Administrator Do?

Windows system administrators manage computer systems and networks that utilize the Windows operating system. They determine what the system needs of a company are and install the hardware and software needed to meet those needs. They also play a big role in making sure organizations' networks are secure. As administrators, they add new users to networks, and train those users how to use associated computer systems. When problems with a system arise, they use expertise to examine, interpret and solve them. The table below outlines some key career facts for Windows systems administrators.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Information technology, computer science, computer engineering
Certification Certification is voluntary, unless you want to become Microsoft certified
Key Responsibilities Maintain computers and computer systems that use Microsoft Windows operating systems; make suggestions to organizations on computer equipment; troubleshoot technical problems
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (for all network and computer systems administrators)*
Median Salary (2015) $77,810 (for all network and computer systems administrators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Windows System Administrator?

A systems administrator is responsible for the operation and maintenance of computers, computer systems and networks. Generally, Windows systems administrators work exclusively with computers and networks running the Microsoft Windows operating system. The term can also refer more specifically to Microsoft Certified Systems Administrators (MCSA). MCSA professionals are certified by Microsoft to work with Windows Server 2008 or Widows Sever 2012 as well as earlier Windows operating systems.

What Education Do I Need?

Although there are several educational tracks to choose from, a common choice is to enroll in a bachelor's degree program in information technology (IT). While you need a high school diploma or a GED, experience with computer systems may be beneficial. In a typical IT program, you learn about the architecture of operating systems, PC productivity, database management and network security. You may also choose to continue your education in a graduate school program in IT or computer science.

If you wish to work as a MCSA professional, you need to obtain your certification from Microsoft. To do so, you'll receive training in maintenance and management with Windows Server 2008 or 2012. As of March 2011, Microsoft issues a series of exams to become certified. It's necessary to see what exams are available for certification because Microsoft retires old programs to make way for new ones.

What Skills Do I Need?

To become a Windows systems administrator, you need to have a thorough understanding of both computer hardware and software programs. As a Windows systems administrator, you troubleshoot problems, manage networks and information systems, analyze network operations, work as a computer technician and oversee projects.

What Is the Job Market Like?

Computer system administration is a growing professional field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that the number of positions for network and computer systems administrators, including Windows system administrators, would increase by 8% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).

According to the BLS in May 2015, the median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $77,810. The bottom ten percent earned under $47,460, while the top ten percent made over $124,090.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar to systems administrators, information technology (IT) managers coordinate the computer-related projects of companies. They set IT goals for companies and implement programs that will allow them to achieve those goals. These professionals usually start their career with a bachelor's degree, but many go on to earn an MBA. Computer network architects deign and create local area networks and wide area networks. They lay out and assemble the hardware and software that make these networks and then test them to make sure they function properly. Most of these professionals have a bachelor's degree.

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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