Updated July 2023
Organizations in every industry rely on computer networks. Businesses, hospitals, schools, and government agencies (just to name a few) use networking technology to share information and resources every single day.
Computer networks are systems connected by cables (wired) or wi-fi (wireless). Networks are built using hardware and software and in different configurations depending on the needs of the users.
This includes both LANs (local area networks) and WANs (wide area networks).
When an organization uses a computer network, they also require someone to maintain, protect, update, and troubleshoot it. That’s where network administrators come in.
In this post, we’ll explore the main skills and responsibilities of a network administrator. Find out exactly what a network administrator does and the skills you'll need to get hired.
Role and Responsibilities of a Network Administrator
Network administrators are hired by organizations or IT companies to install and maintain computer networks.
This work includes performing regular maintenance, optimization, network security, troubleshooting, upgrades, and disaster recovery operations as needed.
There are many moving parts to a computer network, so there is much variety in the role of a network administrator. No two workdays are exactly the same.
One day you might be dealing with a company-wide security breach, and the next day you could be tasked with updating software or training new users on how to operate a system.
The role of a network administrator offers a balance of working with others and working independently behind a computer screen.
Main tasks for network administrators include:
☑️ Troubleshooting hardware, software, connectivity, and server issues
☑️ Performing backup operations
☑️ Configuring cloud services
☑️ Installing and configuring individual workstations
☑️ Training users on how to use hardware or software
☑️ Monitoring network security
☑️ Maintaining network documentation
Network Administrator Skills
Network administrators need excellent technical knowledge combined with strong customer service and communication skills.
You need a deep understanding of networking hardware, software, optimization, and security. But at the same time, you must be able to break those concepts down and explain them to everyday users and clients.
A complete skillset for networking administrators includes:
☑️ Strong interpersonal skills
☑️ Ability to present complex ideas in user-friendly language
☑️ Patience and attention to detail
☑️ Proactive problem-solving
☑️ Clear communication, oral and written
☑️ Ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure
☑️ Strong analytical and research skills
☑️ Willing to continue learning and developing new skills
What else do employers look for in network administrators?
It's not just about understanding networking technologies. Soft skills such as communication and teamwork are highly valued by employers in this field.
Dice Insights wisely points out that automation is slowly creeping into the IT and tech sector.
Companies are looking for network administrators with skills that can't be automated, like advanced problem-solving, communication, and innovation.
"Automation can execute any number of tasks necessary to keep networks and IT infrastructure running, but companies know a human being is ultimately necessary to make nuanced decisions and take a holistic view of the system."
Future-proof your network administration career by working on those soft skills and highlighting them during interviews.
Network Administrator Job Outlook and Salary
The current job outlook for network administrators is strong in most areas of the country. The Government of Canada Job Bank predicts good employment growth for computer networking occupations over the next few years.
As long as people keep using computers, network administrators will be in demand.
According to the Job Bank, the median annual salary of network administrators in Canada is $66,560 (or $32 per hour). At the highest end of the pay scale, network administrators are making over $101,000.
Real Examples of Network Administrator Jobs and Responsibilities
The descriptions below are real examples of job postings for network administrators. They show how diverse employers are in this field. They also clearly outline the main tasks and responsibilities you will be expected to perform.
☑️ Example #1: Network administrator for a large global environmental company
Job description: The network administrator’s role is to ensure the stable operation of the in-house computer network.
This includes planning, developing, installing, configuring, maintaining, supporting, and optimizing all network hardware, software, and communication links.
The network administrator will also analyze and resolve end user hardware and software computer problems in a timely and accurate fashion, and provide end user training where required.
☑️ Example #2: Network administrator for a career college
Job description: The network administrator will supervise technical staff and maintain, troubleshoot and administer the use of local area networks and wide area networks.
The candidate will provide problem-solving services to network users. They will also implement data, software and hardware security procedures and respond to requests for help and information from website visitors and website designers.
☑️ Example #3: Network administrator for a municipal government
Job description: The systems/network administrator is responsible for the management of the information technology hardware and software.
This includes servers, storage, operating systems, applications, network infrastructure and services. This administrator will also provide technical advice, guidance, and support to users, clients and staff.
Network Administrator Training
Most network administrator roles (including the ones above) require a computer networking technology diploma or degree.
While there are many network administrator programs to choose from, it’s important to do your research to find the right fit for your career goals.
You should always look for a training program that will prepare you for important networking certifications. Some employers prefer to hire certified network administrators, so earning these credentials can give you a competitive edge.
At Herzing College, we offer computer networking technology training at our Toronto campus as well as online. The program includes preparation for certifications from industry leaders like CompTIA and is designed to quickly get students ready for entry-level network administration and network technician jobs.
Click below to explore our networking programs and chat live with an admissions advisor. We're here to help!