A system administrator has quickly become one of the most important jobs in any company. Virtually all businesses these days rely heavily on their computer network so it should probably not come as a surprise that the guy who looks after that network would become important. There are quite a few different duties required of a system administrator depending on what kind of company he works at.
The Duties of a System Administrator
The main duty of a system administrator is to set up the computer network. This usually requires that they design the network as well. Once they have worked out a design for the network they are responsible for actually building the network, they are the ones who physically install any hardware and they are also the ones who test the system to make sure that it is working properly. Most of the job will involve installation and upgrade of the server. Depending on how complicated the network is the system administrator may have employees to assist him with this.
The other big part of the system administrator’s duties will involve fixing any problems that occur with the network. A computer network can be quite complicated so there is a pretty good chance that at some point something will go wrong. Since most companies are heavily reliant on their network getting it fixed quickly is critical. In a lot of cases the problem will not actually be with the network but with the people who are using it. Patiently explaining to the other employees at the company what they are doing wrong is another important part of the job.
In some cases the system administrator will also be responsible for network security. However given how important security has become this is becoming less and less common. Most larger companies will now have somebody who specializes in network security to handle this part of the job. However many smaller companies don’t have the resources to do this so network security will fall to the system administrator. In some cases this may actually become a major part of the job since network security is such a major concern. Nowadays the use of wireless networks is very popular because it reduces the burden of having too many wires, but it’s more complicated to make it secure. If you are going to work as a system administrator you should make sure that you are very familiar with network security.
In some cases a system administrator may be required to do some light scripting. This is not all that common but it is a skill that you should have if you are going to work in the field. Again this will be more common if you work at a smaller company where you are likely the only person who has any expertise with computers, they will likely just assume that you also know how to program. If you are required to do this it will mainly be scripting and probably won’t be all that complicated but you should make sure that you know how to do it.
The Skills a System Administrator Needs
A systems administrator is one of the most important jobs in a lot of businesses. Almost every company depends on its computer network running properly. There are a number of skills that a good systems administrator has to have. The technical skills are a given, you obviously have to know how a network works. However, there are also other skills that you have to have in order to be successful.
Probably the most important skill that a system administrator is going to need is to be a good independent learner. There are constant changes in technology (remind how the invention of the internet has changed our lives) internet being used in the job and the system administrator has to be able to figure how to use them. In many cases you will have nothing but the instruction manual to go on so you will need to be able to figure it out on your own because there probably won’t be somebody who you can call and ask for help, you are the person other people are going to be calling.
If you are going to be a systems administrator you are better be a good problem solver according to Kristof Peeters, a professional sysadmin from Belgium. Every time something goes wrong with the network you are going to be called on to get it fixed. That means that you are going to have to be able to figure out where the problem is. Since most computer networks are extremely complex there are lots of things that could be wrong. You are going to have to be able to reason it out and determine where the problem is. This is a skill that not a lot of people have so it is something that you are going to have to learn.
In most cases if you want to be a successful system administrator you are going to have to develop your leadership skills. Most networks these days are large enough and complex enough that it takes more than one person to look after them. That means that a system administrator is going to find himself with employees working under him. That means that you will have to know how to manage and lead your team. This is an area that a lot of people in the technology sector really struggle with. However if you are going to move ahead in your career it is something that you are going to have to learn.
It is also important for the systems administrator to have good people skills because you are going to be dealing with a lot of them. Again this is an area where a lot of systems administrators really struggle. You are constantly going to have people calling you looking for answers to their problems. In most cases you are going to find their problems to be very simple and easy to solve. There is a natural tendency to get irritated when they can’t figure it out for themselves. However you have to make sure that you are able to deal with them in a professional manner.
The Education Expected of a System Admin
A system administrator is a very important job since they are responsible for a company’s computer network. The job comes with a lot of responsibility and it pays very well which makes it a very desirable job. However in order to get a job as a system admin you have to have the right qualifications and that means the right education.
One of the odd things about being a systems administrator is that there is really no standard education that is required. This is starting to change as the career field becomes more clearly defined. However it is still possible to get a job as a self taught systems administrator. On the other hand there are many companies that will require a master’s degree on the part of an applicant. That being the case it is beneficial to get as much education as you can. The question then becomes what kind of education do you need?
As a rule, you will have the best chances of becoming a systems administrator if you have at least a bachelor’s degree. It is certainly still possible to get a job without but it is getting harder and harder. The best options are degrees in computer science or information systems. There are lots of schools that offer these programs so you should have no trouble finding one. A degree in information systems is intended primarily for people who want to work as system administrators but a computer science degree will give you more career options.
Like most fields, there is a trend towards higher education for systems administrators. As a result, there are now companies that require a master’s degree in order to get a job. In many cases, this will be required if you want to work at a company that has a large and complex network. Since these jobs generally also require a great deal of experience most people will enter the workforce after they get their bachelor’s degree to get this experience. There are lots of masters programs that can be taken by distance learning so that is how many people chose to get their master’s degree.
One of the other interesting things about the education required of a systems administrator is that a lot of the training is done outside of the formal schooling system. In particular, there are certifications that are offered by the various software and hardware vendors. The Cisco or Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator are the most common of these but there are dozens of others. Getting one of these certifications can really help your career but it can also limit your options. If you get the Cisco certification for example you are basically ineligible for any job with a company that uses a Microsoft-based system. Therefore it is important to make sure that you make a good choice when you are choosing a certification.
What is System Admin Appreciation Day?
Most people are surprised to learn that system admin appreciation day has been going on since 1999. It really hasn’t become as popular as the appreciation day for other employees but it really should be. The system administrator has one of the most thankless jobs at any company so taking one day to show your appreciation isn’t asking too much.
At most companies the only time anybody ever sees the system administrator is when they have a problem. Other times they never see the person who looks after the computer network. Given the nature of the relationship that most people have with their system administrator it is a good idea to show your appreciation. Modern companies can’t function without their computer network and most people just take for granted that it will work properly. In reality this is rarely the case it takes constant effort to make sure that it continues to operate the way that it should. Just because you don’t see the person who maintains the network doesn’t mean that they aren’t there doing the work.
The other reason that you may want to show your appreciation for your system admin is that there is a pretty good chance that you have done something to make their work harder. Most of the time when something goes wrong and you call the system admin to fix the problem it is because you have done something to screw up the network. In many cases the problem is simply that you don’t know how to use it properly. All this extra work that gets added to the system administrator’s load should be appreciated.
Most of the time the computer network is required to work twenty four hours a day seven days a week. If there is a problem at night or on the weekend the system admin will be called to come in and fix it. If they have to stay late to make a repair on the system that is part of the job. The computer system at most companies is far too important to be able to say wait until Monday to get it fixed, it usually has to be fixed right away. This is another of the tasks that the system admin performs that most of the other employees never hear about.
Nobody expects a huge celebration for system admin day on June 12, 2011, but some acknowledgement would be nice. A little token that you do in fact appreciate the job that they do in order to make your job easier. This small effort to make the system admin feel appreciated will go a long way to making them feel like you recognize the importance of the work that they do. It really shouldn’t be too much to ask given how important they are to the success of your company.