What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Computer Systems Administrator?

Computer systems administratorIf you enjoy working with computers and analyzing and solving problems, then there’s a technology career out there for you with a great salary and an almost nonexistent unemployment rate. Computer systems administrators plan, install, maintain and troubleshoot the computer networks companies and organizations use on a daily basis to get work done. To get started, you’ll need an undergraduate college degree.

An Undergraduate Degree

Aspiring computer systems administrators have options, but most choose to earn a bachelor’s degree program in computer science or information science. Computer science is useful and versatile major even for students who aren’t sure the role of computer systems administrator is the right permanent choice for them. After all, computer and information systems is one of the top 10 highest paying undergraduate degrees. Computer science degrees appeal to a wide range of students, from the creative student who dreams of a game design or multimedia animation career to those poised to enter rapidly-growing careers of the future. A computer education is so in-demand and adaptable that it even makes an excellent choice for the indecisive students who still aren’t sure quite what they want to do with their education.

A background in computer engineering or electrical engineering can also be an asset when preparing for this career, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Whatever major is listed on their degree, aspiring computer systems administrators need to study subjects such as networking, computer programming and systems design to develop the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in this career.

Enhancing Your Résumé with Certifications

With computer technology constantly evolving, aspiring computer systems administrators should expect to continue learning over the course of their work-lives. Some professionals choose to pursue a master’s degree in computer science, but that’s not the only route they can use to expand their education. Certifications in specific types of software or companies, like Microsoft or Cisco, can add to your résumé as well as your knowledge, and the right combination of certifications can give you a competitive edge in the job market. Of course, computer systems administrators can also learn from informal methods, like reading technology blogs and magazines to keep abreast of new software.

Computer systems administrators earn a median salary of $72,560 per year, according to the BLS. Those in the finance and insurance, information and computer systems design industries enjoy the highest earning potential. While the BLS predicts opportunities for computer systems administrators to grow only “as fast as average” at 12 percent, the unemployment rate in this occupation is exceptionally low: just 0.3 percent, according to U.S. News and World Report. Add the high rate of upward mobility to the earning potential and positive job outlook, and you’ll see why computer systems administrator ranked highly on three U.S. News and World Report lists: the 100 Best Jobs, the Best Technology Jobs and the Best Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics jobs.

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