How to Become a Network Administrator

Network Administrator
Network Administrator Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year$91,250
Avg. Pay / hour$43.87
Education4+ Years
Outlook5%

A network administrator oversees a range of IT functions within a business or organization.

They have high computer literacy, are skilled problem solvers, and are also good at working with different kinds of people.

If you enjoy computers and would like to spend your career working with all kinds of systems, then a career as a network administrator might be ideal for you.

If you’re looking for a role in IT, working as a network administrator is an excellent choice.

You’ll enjoy plenty of job opportunities once qualified, and be employed in a sector with faster growth than average.

Education Requirements to Become a Network Administrator

If you’re in high school, it’s a good idea to take as many computer and technology subjects as possible.

Math and science are also helpful at this point.

If your school has a computer club or something similar, you might like to join to earn some additional experience.

A part-time job in a computer or electronics store would also be valuable.

The minimum educational requirement to become a network administrator is a four-year bachelor’s degree with a major in computer science or a similar field.

You can complete a 2-year network administration program at community college, but this may only leave you eligible for a job on a help desk rather than a full network administrator’s position.

Completing internships while at college will definitely help you to gain experience, but more importantly, make your resume stand out from the crowd when you are looking for a job.

While not essential, many network administrators go on to attain master’s degrees in computer science or networking.

This can help you to get the top jobs in large companies.

Some individual companies like Microsoft and Cisco offer certification programs for network administrators.

Attaining these certifications can be a real benefit when looking for a job.

A good resource is DICE, which features job listings for network administrators.

Even if you are still studying, it is good to know what kind of jobs are around and the skills required.

Network Administrator Job Description

A network administrator oversees the IT needs of a large company or organization.

This includes the installation and maintenance of LANs, or local area networks, WANs, or wide area networks.

They also install and maintain hardware and software, servers, maintain network security, and troubleshoot any problems that may occur.

Here are some of the duties of a network administrator:

  • Install PCs
  • Configure and maintain PCs
  • Maintain area networks
  • Maintain network security
  • Determine individual access levels
  • Provide staff training
  • Maintain servers
  • Provide adequate backup systems
  • Troubleshoot user problems
  • Maintain other devices like printers and photocopiers

To become a network administrator you will need to be comfortable in working in a highly technical role.

As computer technology is always changing and moving forward, you will need to spend time keeping up with these changes.

When things go wrong with computers, some people can become very stressed.

For this reason, you will need to be ready to work in a high-stress environment from time to time.

Network administrators generally work a 40-hour workweek, but there may be times when you are required to work additional hours.

When new systems are being put in place, when a crash occurs, or there is simply too much work to do, you may need to work overtime.

Network Administrator Salary and Career Path

Most network administrators will get a role as an assistant, providing support to a more experienced network administrator.

Others get their start working in a help desk position, or similar.

With a few years of experience, you could expect to be working as a full network administrator.

The median salary for a network administrator is $66,000.

Those just starting out in an entry-level network administration role could expect to earn closer to $50,000 a year.

The top 10% in this sector earn over $110,000.

Some network administrators move on to become systems engineers, move into management roles, or go on to develop systems and software themselves.

For those that are looking for a role in IT, working to become a network administrator is an excellent career choice.

Employment prospects are strong, and the salary available can be lucrative.

There is a lot of opportunity for advancement and further training as a part of this career.

While stressful at times, this role is one that many in the field find rewarding.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$91,250
$49K
$62K
$91K
$102K
$130K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$79,260
Alaska$87,240
Arizona$87,900
Arkansas$72,510
California$105,770
Colorado$93,550
Connecticut$98,740
Delaware$83,520
District of Columbia$104,490
Florida$81,840
Georgia$90,450
Hawaii$89,640
Idaho$76,600
Illinois$91,930
Indiana$80,350
Iowa$84,060
Kansas$80,920
Kentucky$72,380
Louisiana$74,400
Maine$79,160
Maryland$106,480
Massachusetts$102,990
Michigan$82,180
Minnesota$90,340
Mississippi$71,730
Missouri$85,760
Montana$81,370
Nebraska$85,280
Nevada$91,380
New Hampshire$91,710
New Jersey$108,860
New Mexico$82,650
New York$102,480
North Carolina$87,000
North Dakota$82,720
Ohio$86,910
Oklahoma$77,810
Oregon$93,180
Pennsylvania$74,570
Rhode Island$93,220
South Carolina$83,810
South Dakota$68,900
Tennessee$79,370
Texas$89,630
Utah$89,720
Vermont$77,120
Virginia$98,810
Washington$96,490
West Virginia$71,530
Wisconsin$80,280
Wyoming$73,790
Puerto Rico$47,770

The top earning state in the field is New Jersey, where the average salary is $108,860.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New Jersey - $108,860
Maryland - $106,480
California - $105,770
District of Columbia - $104,490
Massachusetts - $102,990
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Network and Computer Systems Administrators, OCC Code 15-1244, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a network administrator do?

Network administrators are responsible for supervising the day-to-day operations of computer networks.

Their job includes installing network hardware and software, maintaining and repairing existing equipment and adding new users to existing networks.

Network administrators typically work for an organization and ensure that each workstation works efficiently and remains connected to the computer network.

In some situations, they may also train computer users on how to use new hardware and software.

Network administrators need analytical and multitasking skills as well as communication and problem-solving skills.

If you’re passionate about technology and computer networks and you are willing to spend a few years in post-secondary education, a career as a network administrator may be the right path for you.

How much does a network administrator make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $82,050 in May 2018.

Salaries vary depending on the administrator’s experience, the employer and the size of the network.

Some entry-level administrators earn less than $51,000 a year while more experienced workers can make more than $130,000 a year.

How much does it cost to become a network administrator?

Network administrators typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field but some employers may hire candidates who hold an associate’s degree and have some experience in the field.

Bachelor’s degree programs cost, on average, around $42,000-$43,000 a year but expenses vary widely depending on the school you choose and the program itself.

Some companies may also require network administrators to be certified in the products they use; some of the most common credentials are those offered by Microsoft and Cisco.

These credentials can be earned after passing an exam; the certification exam fee is typically between $300-$600.

What is the demand for network administrators?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for network administrators is projected to grow 5 percent from 2018 to 2028.

As more small and medium-sized businesses that don’t have a dedicated IT department adopt cloud services, the employment of network administrators is expected to grow 24 percent in the computer system design industry.

Holding a bachelor’s degree and a certificate in your area of expertise may improve your employment prospects.

How long does it take to become a network administrator?

Most companies require network administrators to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field- which can be earned after 4 years of post-secondary training.

As a network administrator, you may also have to complete continuing education classes to keep up with the latest advances in the field.

Holding a professional certification in the products you use may also improve your employment prospects.

Some of the most popular certifications are those offered by Microsoft and Cisco.

Jamie Willis