Job profile: Become a network administrator
Posted on
February 14, 2022
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What do you need to know to succeed in IT as a network administrator?

Efficient and secure computer networks are crucial to the functioning of most businesses and organizations. These networks are managed by network administrators. They play a vital role in optimizing network performance and maintaining network security. Network administrators are responsible for designing, installing, administering, and supporting IT networks across industries.

A computer network comprises endpoints, such as servers and clients, physical and virtual switches and routers, appliances, and software, such as firewalls, unified threat management systems (UTM), software defined networking (SDN), email and spam filtering, and other components. Network administrators organize, configure, manage, maintain, and upgrade the hardware and software required to keep networks secure and operational.

Some network administrators specialize in specific software, hardware, or network functions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 5 percent increase in employment of network administrators over the period 2020 to 2030. The U.S. BLS predicts that the rise in cloud adoption might result in higher network productivity, which could lead to a decrease in demand for network administrators. Network administrators with skills in mobile computing, network security, cloud network management, and virtualization, however, are expected to have better job prospects.

Job responsibilities

A computer network can extend to a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), network segments, Internet, and intranets. Whatever the type of network, network administrators are responsible for managing routine network operations in order to ensure network availability, efficiency, security, and scalability.

Typically a network administrator’s responsibilities would include most or all of the following:

Assessing an organization’s IT infrastructure needs — This includes determining the size and capacity of network needed, as well as determining equipment needs and assigning resources to individual users.

Setting up an organization’s computer network — This includes installing, configuring, and managing all network hardware and software according to requirements.

Maintaining the organization’s computer network — Network administrators are responsible for maintaining all network hardware and software and monitoring all network devices and systems in order to ensure uninterrupted network operations.

What do you need to know to succeed in IT as a network administrator?

Administering access to network resources — Network administrators may be entrusted with the responsibility of assigning network addresses to devices. They manage access to network resources by configuring authorization and authentication of all users, both individuals and groups. This includes setting up user accounts, and assigning permissions and passwords.

Monitoring network performance — Network administrators are responsible for monitoring all network equipment, devices, and services. This is required in order to test network utilization, availability, and latency, and identify weaknesses.

Ensuring network security — This includes implementing, managing, and monitoring network security tools, such as firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and other security devices. Network administrators also define security policies in order to help prevent security breaches, both internal and external.

Troubleshooting connectivity and performance issues — Network administrators identify, analyse, solve, and document network-related problems reported by users or automated monitoring devices.

Implementing software updates — Network administrators are responsible for keeping track of antivirus and other software updates, as well as implementing all these updates.

Optimize network performance — This includes periodically reviewing network components and systems to determine where upgrades should be made.

Training users — Network administrators may be required to train technical and non-technical users in the correct use of network software and hardware.

Keep pace with technology

Network technology keeps changing rapidly, which is why it’s essential for network administrators to stay abreast of the latest network tools, technologies, and best practices. A network administrator needs to continue learning throughout his career.

Network administrators stay in touch with the latest developments and upgrade their knowledge and skills by participating in technology conferences and relevant certification programs.

Training and employment background

What do you need to know to succeed in IT as a network administrator?

Most enterprises and organizations require network administrators to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, computer or electrical engineering, or a related subject. Some bachelor’s programs offer an emphasis on network administration. While a few companies may recruit candidates with an associate’s degree, this is an exception rather than the norm.

Network administrators with relevant bachelor’s degrees are usually employed as senior network administrators and in managerial roles. Those who have associate’s degrees or just certifications are typically hired for entry-level roles such as junior network administrators.

Communication skills: Being able to communicate with clarity is important because administrators need to explain technical procedures and solutions to non-technical staff, and discuss hardware and software upgrades with managers.

Analytical skills: Network administrators are responsible for evaluating network and hardware, assessing the impact of environmental changes on network operations, and forecasting network requirements in line with changing market realities and customer expectations. Hence, they need to have solid analytical skills.

Critical thinking skills: Critical thinking skills enable a network administrator to approach problems with an open mind, form an objective analysis, and find logical solutions.

Certification

Network administrators need expertise in a range of tools and technologies in order to be able to plan, manage, secure, and support computer networks.

Certifications validate knowledge and skills in specific networking tools, technologies, and best practices. Some organizations and companies require network administrators to earn certifications in the products and technologies that they use. A wide range of certifications are available from vendor-neutral certification providers such as CompTIA as well as vendors. Cisco is the leading vendor of network products.

Popular network certifications include:

CompTIA Network+

What do you need to know to succeed in IT as a network administrator?

The vendor-neutral CompTIA Network+ certification is designed for entry-level networking roles. The CompTIA Network+ certification validates hands-on skills in setting up, maintaining, securing, and troubleshooting computer networks.

Additional information is available online.

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Enterprise

The CCNP Enterprise certification demonstrates knowledge and hands-on expertise in Cisco enterprise networking solutions. This credential is suitable for networking professionals with three to five years of experience in handling enterprise networking solutions.

Additional information is available online.

Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Enterprise Infrastructure

The CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure is an advanced networking certification, designed for experienced networking professionals who have been planning, deploying, managing, and optimizing networking technologies and solutions at the enterprise level for at least five to seven years.

The CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure certification validates expertise in intricate enterprise network infrastructure solutions.

Additional information is available online.

Other network certifications include WCNA Certification for Wireshark, SolarWinds Certified Professional, VMware Certified Professional, AWS Certified Advanced Networking Specialty, and Juniper Enterprise Routing and Switching-Expert (JNCIE-ENT). Credentials available from Citrix, Avaya, and Extreme Networks Network might be of interest to administrators who work with these products.

Career prospects appear robust for network administrators with the right skillset. With experience and relevant training, a skilled network administrator can advance to the role of a network architect, as well as become IT managers.

About the Author

Reena Ghosh is an independent ghostwriter who writes promotional, developmental and explanatory content for individuals and businesses. She came to professional writing with work experience in financial services operations and corporate communication. Reena speaks three languages and hopes to learn Sanskrit. She is a wanderer who spends time in West Bengal, Goa and any place that pulls.

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