As new technologies continue to advance by leaps and bounds with each coming year, expert professionals that can help organizations make use of the best solutions to suit their needs are expected to remain in steady, high demand. Particularly with the advent of cloud computing, a sophisticated understanding of data networking has never been more essential for anyone tasked with building a business’ information systems. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that all “computer occupations”, which include various positions in IT and computer science, to grow by 18% by 2022, well over the national average for growth in all industries.
One of those professions expected to continue upward growth is that of the network administrator. The field is estimated to expand by 12% over the next 8 years. However, for those pursuing network administration jobs in some industries (like computer systems design, for example) might see an expansion of 35%. Healthcare industries, as a result of mandates requiring that all patient records be digitized, are also expected to need greater attention to their data storage and information systems.
So what do network administrators do? The functions they perform are essential to any organization’s infrastructure. Their task is to understand the needs of a business in terms of data storage, bandwidth, and processing, then convert that into a practical solution using technology that matches those demands. Using the appropriate amount and type of servers (both cloud-based and not), the network administrator creates local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets for use by their employer. They ensure that their co-workers are able to communicate with one another, access essential information, and utilize company resources to complete their tasks effectively.
But the largest, ongoing task that falls on the network administrator’s shoulders is the day-to-day maintenance of the company’s infrastructure. This involves monitoring the security of any server-side interactions, upgrading both hardware and software, evaluating the performance of existing systems, and training users in the use of company equipment. They also make sure that desktop and laptop machines offered by the company are functioning well and not holding back employee efficiency.
Becoming a Network Administrator
Pursuing an entry-level network administrator position typically requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT, or computer engineering. That said, initial education is only one part of the knowledge that competent administrator’s need to possess. With network technologies (particularly in the area of data storage) evolving rapidly, it’s absolutely essential that any aspiring networking professional stay up-to-date on the latest advances in the field – including new tools and how to use them.
Those interested in establishing a reputation for professional competence and earning a valuable credential can pursue certification through a number of private organizations. Software companies like Microsoft and Cisco offer training and examination processes to help network administrators become certified and distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace.