What is a Systems Administrator?

Systems administrators have an important role within an organization because they oversee the entire computer systems and ensure the computers and computer components run smoothly and efficiently. Computers are complex machines that require all parts to operate correctly. If one part has an issue, it can affect the entire computer system and how it operates. Computers are used not only to perform various functions but also for data storage, making systems administrators very necessary for the company’s success.

What is a Systems Administrator?

A systems administrator is a trained individual who oversees the computer systems in a business or organization. They take care of both computer software and hardware. Their duties and responsibilities will depend on the size of the organization. Typical duties of a systems administrator include:

  • Setting up a computer system
  • Installing software and hardware
  • Ensuring the software and hardware function correctly
  • Doing data backup and recovery
  • Training users
  • Installing security software
  • Maintaining computers
  • Perform updates and upgrades

How to Become a Systems Administrator?

Systems administrators usually have at least a bachelor’s degree, but some may be required to have a master’s degree. Their major may be computer science or information science. Some computer programs may focus specifically on systems administration. Systems administrators spend most of their time working on computers so they may also be hired with a computer engineering or electrical engineering degree. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree usually spend four years in college and complete an internship working for a company to obtain hands-on training.

Many companies require systems administrators to be certified in various area. This is often the case with computers and computer products, which are constantly changing or being upgraded. Systems administrators must stay current with computer systems, computer hardware and software as well as the latest technology. They are often required not just to obtain certifications but also to keep up with continuing education. Systems administrators must have good communication, analytical, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

How Systems Administrators Differ From Network Administrators

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups systems administrators under the category of network and computer systems administrators, these two professionals have different jobs. Systems administrators ensure that the computer systems and their components are working correctly. Network administrators are in charge of the networking systems, and their job is to set up and monitor the network and ensure all computers are networked together.

Related Resource: 20 Best Online Bachelor’s in Computer Science

Career Outlook for Systems Administrators

Systems Administrators rank 8th among best technology jobs, 25th among best STEM jobs and 68th among best 100 jobs by U.S. News & World Report. The BLS reports that employment for computer occupations should grow 13 percent between 2016 and 2026. Computer systems administrators, in particular, can expect a growth of six percent during that decade.

Although several things can affect the earning potential, systems administrators generally earn very good wages. The Bureau also reported that network and computer systems administrators earned wages ranging from $49,830 to $130,200 as of May 2017. Their average annual wage was $86,340.

As long as computers play such a large part of our lives, both personally and professionally, we’ll always have a need for systems administrators. Being in charge of an entire computer system and being able to “save the day” when problems arise make this a challenging yet very rewarding career.

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