What Does a Network Administrator Do?

Network administrators are experienced technology professionals that ensure the function of computer networks on a day-to-day basis. Beyond network maintenance, an administrator may also develop the network itself if a new one needs to be installed.

A talented network administrator can be a vital contributor to the success of a company. Over the past few decades, networks and related technology have grown into the foundational infrastructure for most industries. Companies need to make sure that they have a network administrator on hand who is capable of keeping their technology functional and up-to-date.

Network administration can be an exciting and rewarding career choice for technologically inclined individuals. In this article, you'll find the answers to questions like what does a network administrator do, learn more about the duties of network administrators and discover some of the steps you can take to become one as we explore the following sections:

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What is a Network Administrator?

A network administrator is a technology professional who is tasked with keeping a company's network up to date and functional. They install and update software and prune old programs that are no longer effective. If a company has multiple computers or network software such as cloud-computing, they need to have a network administrator to keep everything in working order.

What is the Difference between a Network Administrator and a Systems Administrator?

Despite having similar job titles, a network administrator and a systems administrator are two distinct professions. While there is some overlap in the duties that each person handles, and some small businesses use the titles interchangeably, there are also general industry definitions for each role.

A network administrator primarily deals with software and networking devices. They make sure that the networks at a company remain updated and without flaws. This requires administrators to regularly test the network, identify weaknesses and solve issues.

A systems administrator works with company members to ensure that the system is set up in a way that facilitates efficiency and convenience. They are often in charge of things like password management, file organization and user permissions. Outside of those concerns, they typically monitor essential metrics like CPU performance, storage capacity, network latency and more to ensure that everything within the system is working properly.

What are the Job Duties of a Network Administrator?

The job duties of a network administrator vary from company to company. Generally, a person with this job title is expected to install and configure computer networks and systems, identify and solve any technical issues, assemble new systems, and research and develop budgets for new equipment.

Depending on the company, these duties may also include system administrator duties such as password delegation and user permission settings. If the company has a server room, there is likely to be some server maintenance involved as well.

What Does a Typical Day Look Like for a Network Administrator?

Most days involve balancing ongoing projects such as server maintenance and hardware upgrade research with immediate needs like password issues or troubleshooting a network breakdown.

Network administrators may work on recurring tasks like process audits, technology research, network solution development, checking logs and testing the network. There may also busier days when issues arise that require the entirety of the administrator’s attention.

The typical network administrator works regular hours that align with the rest of their company. If the company operates around the clock or has a pressing project deadline, the admin may be kept on call to provide assistance should issues arise outside of typical work hours.

What Skills Does a Network Administrator Need to Have?

A network administrator needs to have a strong grasp on the basics of a variety of technology skills. Because they are often at the center of technology concerns at a company, they need to be able to solve problems quickly.

Here are some of the skills that a network administrator should have:

  • Critical thinking: A useful skill in any profession, critical thinking skills are invaluable for network administrators. Because the concerns that people in this profession face are so varied, they need to be able to evaluate a problem and quickly find a solution.

  • VoIP administration: VoIP is critical for conferencing and quick communication. Network administrators are often required to set up teleconference systems and troubleshoot them when issues occur.

  • Understanding computer interactions: For a network administrator, understanding the way that computers interact with people and other computers goes a long way towards finding solutions. A thorough understanding of how computers work not only enables you to perform basic computer functions, but also gives you a baseline understanding of how to troubleshoot these systems.

  • Networking: Networking is a key element of the network admin position. You'll need to understand local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and the internet in order to fulfill your job duties.

  • Information organization: Network administration requires you to manage and organize large amounts of data. This is essential for keeping tabs on projects, networks and presenting information to company higher-ups when necessary.

  • Systems analysis: All network administrators need to know how to analyze systems. This understanding also enables you to make educated guesses as to how the system is operating and how it will be affected by environmental or other kinds of variables.

  • Routing: Routing is a skill that network administrators use to set up robust Wi-Fi networks. A solid understanding of this can allow you to set up networks that are fast and secure.

  • Network operating systems: Did you know that networks have their own operating systems, too? Understanding these operating systems is essential for the installation of server and workstation software. It is also critical for getting the highest level of performance out of your network.

  • Switching: Switches are pieces of networking hardware that transmit a connection through wired or wireless means to forward data and establish a connection between devices. Network administrators need to know how switching works in order to develop an efficient and powerful network.

How Can I Become a Network Administrator?

If you're interested in a career as a network administrator, then DeVry University can help you get started. We offer an Associate Degree in Network Systems Administration that can help prepare you for the professional world, give you experience working hands-on with IoT technology and systems. Speak to your Student Support Advisor for additional information.