A system administrator is an essential IT professional who is responsible for providing a reliable work environment for an organization—from server and network performance to security and all other areas that keep an organization’s IT systems running smoothly. System administrators must have an in-depth understanding of computer software, hardware, and networks and are highly skilled, valuable members of an organization.
At a high level, system administrators are responsible for system performance, design, and reliability and the security and optimization of computer systems. The breadth of these responsibilities is dependent upon the size and scale of an organization’s IT-related infrastructure.
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The system administrator’s responsibilities are diverse and involve many areas of an organization’s technology systems. This IT professional may be responsible for some, or all the areas listed below, depending on an organization’s structure and scope:
- Design, organize, modify, and support an organization’s computer systems, including operating systems, business applications, security tools, web servers, email systems, and user hardware (laptops, PCs).
- Quickly resolve any system failures and troubleshoots issues.
- Upgrade and manage hardware and software.
- Research upcoming products, service protocols, and standards in support of systems software procurement and development efforts.
- Install and configure local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and network segments and servers, such as file servers, VPN gateways, and intrusion detection systems.
- Ensure an uninterrupted internet connection and manages mail servers for sending and receiving emails and file servers for saving and managing data.
- Oversee system performance and report generation.
- Manage user accounts, credentials, permissions, access rights, storage allocations, and active directory administration.
- Lead process improvements and modifications.
- Secure system integrity from any breaches or viruses and play an essential role in risk-mitigation planning, including creating backup plans, safeguards for data, user security policies, and identity management.
- Ensure high-level security and efficiency resulting in 100% output.
- Develop and execute backup and recovery plan.
- Maintain internal documentation through wiki.
- Offer technical support and training for staff.
After opting for system administration as your career path, it is essential that you select a relevant bachelor’s degree. The basic requirement is a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information system management, information technology or other related field. Other degree programs with an emphasis on hardware, computer networks, and system administration are also acceptable.
The following certifications are important professional credentials and may be required for a system administrator position:
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Engineer (MCSE)
- Oracle Linux System Administrator (Oracle)
- Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)
- Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
- CompTIA Server+
- VMware Certified Professional 6- Data Center Virtualization
Indeed estimates the average system administrator salary is $76,016 per year. According to Payscale, the average system administrator salary is $63,596 and ranges from $46,000 to $89,000 annually. Annually, and Glassdoor reports the average system administrator salary is $76,477.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for system administrators will grow 5 percent between 2020 and 2030, and approximately 24,900 new position openings are projected each year. The opportunities for system administrators will continue to grow as technology evolves and expands in new business sectors.
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