Organizations depend significantly on their systems and servers and need to make sure they function efficiently without suffering any downtime. This is why organizations need system administrators. A system administrator ensures computer systems and internet servers work effectively and identifies and tackles any potential issues. The most basic requirement for anyone to become a successful system administrator is to have an interest in the field of computer sciences and be good with the subject.

If you wonder how to become a system administrator, there are certain steps you can take at any point in your life to pursue this line of work. Here’s everything you need to know about system administrators, what they do, how to become one, key skills a system administrator should possess, and much more.

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Who Is a System Administrator?

A system administrator is a professional who maintains computer systems, servers, and networks of their clients. They are required to understand the specific requirement of their clients and accordingly recommend or suggest computer systems designs for them. Some of their job duties and responsibilities are to install and maintain systems for organizations and maintain as well as upgrade data cloud infrastructure.

They may also be involved in identifying network issues, fixing them, identifying cyber security threats, and devising ways to prevent intrusions. As a whole, a system administrator tests computer systems and internet servers to determine different ways in which these systems can be improved.

System Administrator - Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of a system administrator can vary widely from one organization to another. Here are the four types of system administrators based on their roles and responsibilities:

Network Administrators

Network administrators manage the entire network infrastructure of an organization. They design and install computer systems, routers, switches, local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), and intranet systems. They also monitor the systems, provide maintenance and troubleshoot any problems when they arise.

Database Administrators

Database administrators (DBA) set up and maintain databases used in an organization. They may also be required to integrate data from an old database into a new one or even create a database from scratch. In large organizations, there are specialized DBAs who are only responsible for managing databases. In smaller organizations, the roles of DBAs and server administrators can overlap.

Server/Web Administrators

Server or web administrators specialize in maintaining servers, web services and operating systems of the servers. They monitor the speed of the internet to make sure that everything runs smoothly. They also analyze a website’s traffic patterns and implement changes based on user feedback. 

Security Systems Administrators

Security systems administrators monitor and maintain the security systems of an organization. They develop organizational security procedures and also run regular data checkups - setting up, deleting and maintaining user accounts.

In large organizations, all these roles may all be separate positions within one department. In smaller organizations, they may be shared by a few system administrators, or even one single person.

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How to Become a System Administrator?

If you are keen on becoming a system administrator, it helps when you start laying the right foundation right at the age of 15 or 16. With that said, here are the steps you can follow to become a professional system administrator-

Higher Secondary Education

It is recommended that you select science-related subjects, such as mathematics and physics when you pursue your higher secondary studies. You should try your best to secure a minimum of 50% aggregate score in your 10+2. It is generally a prerequisite set by various universities and professional courses for offering admission.

A Bachelor’s Degree

After schooling, pursuing a bachelor’s degree from a reputed university or college can help you build a basic foundation for skills specific to the job role of a system administrator. For this purpose, you can pursue your bachelor of technology in computer science, information technology, or engineering. You will have to appear in competitive examinations, such as JEE if you plan to pursue your bachelor’s degree from one of the top institutes.

Relevant Certifications

While securing a system administrator job does not essentially require you to have certifications, you might have a competitive advantage if you pursue relevant certifications. Further, some recruiters may also prefer candidates with certifications as it helps them gauge the candidate’s seriousness about having a career in this field. Therefore, earning certifications makes it easier for you to be recruited while also building technical skills.

A Master’s Degree

While pursuing a master’s degree is not mandatory, it may help set you apart from other applicants for the job role you consider. Some popular courses that you can consider include a master’s degree in computer science, information technology, system administration and networking, business administration in system management, and system administration and information security.

What Skills are Needed to Become a System Administrator?

A system administrator should have a combination of soft skills and technical abilities. Therefore, you can focus on improving the following skills-

Technical Skills

A system administrator is generally required to take up responsibilities related to programming, hardware capabilities, network infrastructure, testing protocols and mechanisms, and software development. While you might have a good hold on the basics of these skills once you complete your bachelor’s degree, you can also consider certification courses to develop expertise.

Communication Skills

System administrators are supposed to coordinate with various other professionals, such as technicians, managers, and executives, and are also required to interact with clients, stakeholders, and their own teams. Therefore, you should be able to convey your message, which may involve complex ideas in a way that is easy to comprehend for people. Thus, working on your communication skills—both written and verbal— can help you effectively collaborate with different people and work on your project with efficiency.  

Organizational Skills

Since you may have to handle various things at the same time while working, it will help you a great deal if you develop organizational skills early on. This will make it easier for you to deal with all the tools, resources, communication, and files in an organized fashion. Some of your projects with urgent deadlines may need immediate attention. When you have exceptional organizational skills, it will help you adhere to deadlines without any hassles.

Attention to Detail

System administrators may have to deal with large amounts of data and run an analysis to find patterns and draw useful insights that help with problem-solving and making the right decision. When you have an eye for detail, you are less likely to make errors.

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System Administrator - Job Description

The career outlook for system administrators continues to grow along with the changes in technology.  Hence, they are required to stay aware of all the latest trends in the tech space. These days, most companies require certification or recertification to ensure that their employees are not falling behind. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, systems administrator roles are projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029.

Here are some common requirements that you would find in a system administrator job description:

  • Install and configure software, hardware and networks
  • Ensure security and efficiency of IT infrastructure
  • Monitor system performance and troubleshoot issues 
  • Identify system requirements and install upgrades 
  • Maintains, secure and upgrade a web system
  • Create a backup and safeguard the data 
  • Perform account setup for new and old employees
  • Track emerging technologies and implement them in the organization

A system administrator’s salary can depend on the location, experience and the type of systems they manage. Here is a list of system administrators’ salaries around the world.

  • Annual average system administrator salary in India - ₹692,255
  • Annual average system administrator salary in US - $82,925
  • Annual average system administrator salary in UK - £25,634
  • Annual average system administrator salary in Canada - CA$59,961
  • Annual average system administrator salary in Australia - AU$68,685
  • Annual average system administrator salary in Singapore - S$44641
  • Annual average system administrator salary in UAE - AED 84,014
  • Annual average system administrator salary in Saudi Arabia - SAR 92,37

Key Certifications Needed to Become a System Administrator

As already mentioned, certifications help you build expertise in a specific area, which can be immensely beneficial when you apply for jobs. Here are a few certifications that you can pursue if you want to become a system administrator-

Microsoft Certifications

There are three levels in Microsoft certifications, which are as follows-

  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA): If you possess a certificate in the Microsoft technology Associate course, it indicates that you understand the basic technical concepts.
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate: This is the second level of the Microsoft certification which might be crucial when you apply for some entry-level jobs. Having this certification establishes that you possess core technical knowledge.
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: You can pursue your third-level certification in Microsoft after you have gained some technical experience in the field of system administration.

Red Hat Certified Engineer

RHCE certification serves the purpose of testing and verifying the Red Hat System administration knowledge possessed by a candidate through a series of tests. If you are keen on developing a thorough understanding of Red Hat system operations, storage configuration, and security management, this certification course is worth considering. Candidates with work experience may find it relatively easier to pass this certification test.

CompTIA Server+ Certification

This certification can be pursued by candidates with some years of professional experience in server management, which includes both hardware and software-related expertise. When you opt for this course, you will develop proficiency in data recovery, server administration and architecture, networking, troubleshooting, security, storage, and much more. At the end of the course, you will be required to take a 90-minute examination. Once you pass this exam, you are awarded the certificate which is valid for a lifetime.

Cisco Certified Network Associate

An associate-level certification from Cisco Systems Inc, completing this certification course helps establish that you are proficient in installing, repairing, and maintaining network systems for small to medium-sized organizations. Having a deep understanding of programmability, automation, security, and network access is crucial to passing the test.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What qualifications do I need to become a system administrator?

To become a system administrator, you must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, IT systems management, or other related fields. However, if you do not possess a bachelor’s degree in any of these fields, you can consider pursuing certification courses that build very specific expertise and skills related to computer networks, system administration, and hardware.

2. Does becoming a system administrator require coding?

While useful for certain job roles, a system administrator is not required to know how to code. You can as well have a basic idea about coding concepts.

3. Is it easy to become a system administrator?

Since becoming a system administrator requires you to have technical knowledge in the field of computer sciences, it is generally not very difficult to become a system administrator if computer sciences interest you.

4. Can you become a system administrator without a degree?

This essentially depends on where you plan to work. While certain organizations accept candidates with certifications and may not focus on their bachelor’s degree, some organizations may require you to possess a bachelor’s degree as one of their basic criteria.

5. Is system administrator a good career?

A career in system administration can be beneficial, especially if you’re looking for good earning potential, career growth, industry diversity, as well as personal growth.

6. What does a System Administrator do?

System administrators support, troubleshoot, and maintain computer servers and networks. They are also known as sysadmins. These IT professionals ensure an organization's computer systems are optimally functioning and meet its needs.

7. What makes a good systems administrator?

To be a good system administrator, you must master the following activities: monitoring, auditing and reporting on changes/ interactions with files, folders, and platforms across your on-premises and cloud environment. Additionally, you should also know about anomaly spotting, intelligent threat detection through real-time alerts, and automated threat response.

8. Who does a system administrator work with?

A system administrator reports to the IT department head. They are uniquely responsible for problem-solving and communicating with colleagues within and beyond the IT team.

9. What responsibilities are common for systems administrator jobs?

The primary responsibilities of a systems administrator include installing and configuring software and hardware. They are also associated with managing technology tools and network servers. They set up accounts and workstations and monitor performance according to requirements.

10. What are the typical qualifications for systems administrator jobs?

Most recruiters seek systems administrators with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as Computer and Information Technology. Typically, you will require up to three to five years of experience to qualify for a systems administration position in top organizations.

11. Is systems administration a good career?

Being a system administrator is a reputable job. They have a great earning potential compared to other disciplines in IT. Moreover, the demand for systems administration positions is expected to grow 36% over the next ten years.

12. Do systems administrators get paid well?

System administrators are fairly compensated for their work. In India, the average annual salary of a systems administrator with less than 2 years of experience is approximately ₹ 2 Lakhs, reaching up to ₹ 8 Lakhs for those with 5+ years of experience. 

13. Does the system administrator require coding?

System administration does not necessarily be proficient in coding. However, the job entails complete management of the computing environment, so they might have to develop some code at times to help developers and software engineers.

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Here’s Your Next Step to Success

Systems administration is a career path where experience significantly outweighs a college degree. They need to have proper training and experience before taking over an IT infrastructure completely. ITIL certified professionals can earn up to 40-percent more than their non-certified peers. If you want to understand the concept of ITIL frameworks and enhance the quality of IT Service Management, Simplilearn’s ITIL® 4 Foundation Certification Training Course is the perfect place to get started. This ITIL V4 certification course will help you understand the concepts, languages, best practices, and processes utilized in the ITIL 4 lifecycle. Whether you are just getting started or are a seasoned IT professional, you need to update, renew, and even reactivate your certifications to ensure that you are well equipped with the latest skills in information technology. Get trained and certified today with Simplilearn to help you get ahead in your career.

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