On the surface, a System Administrator (or Sysadmin), sounds like a job spent working with machines more than people. Of course technology is at the heart of the job, but a Sysadmin must also have great customer-facing skills, because everyone in the company will be at their door when their computer system isn’t working as intended!
Imagine being responsible for the pulse of the organization’s workflow. The Sysadmin maintains the technology that powers virtually everything in a business. They must stay constantly in tune with technology trends, updates, and threats. A great responsibility, but along with it often comes the equally great perk of being the one who gets to test and explore all of the latest and greatest new stuff!
Typical Job Duties
- Responsible for the technical infrastructure of an organization, including hardware and software
- Manage installation, on-going maintenance, and support of systems
- Perform high-level root-cause analysis for service interruption recovery and create preventive measures
- Ensure system and data security
- Develop, implement, and ensure adherence to end user policies and procedures
- The average salary for an entry level Systems Administrator is $60,000.
- The average salary for an intermediate to advanced Systems Administrator is $80,000 - $100,000.
Outsourcing of technical functions is often a concern within the industry, but this is not isolated to the IT industry. There are always some functions that can be performed more cost effectively externally. But Sysadmins who stay current with the technical demands of the position have little cause for concern. And, System Administrators with specialty expertise or up-to-date certifications will continue to be extremely marketable.
Some experts recommend that Sysadmins should have a higher level of skills in routing and switching than in the past.
Demand for System Administrators, in general, will continue to remain high as companies invest in more advanced technology in order to maintain their competitive edge.
Titles and responsibilities can range from Jr. to Sr. System Administrator. Small companies may provide a wide variety of responsibilities but little upward mobility. After gaining depth of experience, however, Sysadmins should be qualified for a variety of positions in larger companies with the opportunity to specialize.
Logical next steps include becoming a Systems Architect (more strategy, less maintenance work), and Cybersecurity is a very viable option as well, with several variations in this specialization.
Joining the “gig economy” as an IT Consultant also provides flexibility and control over the type of work, while learning and exploring limitless avenues in the field.
What Can Set A Candidate Apart?
Certifications! A seasoned Sysadmin with proven expertise may not need certifications, but it’s solid proof that you possess a standardized, baseline skill set (so, it can’t hurt and will probably get you the job, promotion or salary increase). And, there are some interesting specialties available to Sysadmins.
Ever hear of a hacker certification? Fortunately, (or unfortunately), it exists - CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) speaks for itself. Many businesses are vulnerable to hackers for one reason or another so specialty certifications like this definitely make a candidate memorable to organizations.
System Administrators who have strategic, “big picture” capabilities and are adept at forming cross-departmental business partnerships will also have an advantage in the recruiting process.
Common Skills and Proficiencies
- Subject matter expertise in hardware and software
- Highly proficient problem identification and solving skills
- Demonstrated ability to quickly learn new technology and communicate in non-technical terms for all audiences
- 5 – 10 years of hands-on experience
Frequently Required Credentials and Education
- Bachelor’s degree in IT, Computer Science or related
- MCSE/MCSA (Microsoft)
By some estimates, growth ranges from 6% to as high as 12%. Since technology continues to grow and evolve while security remains a world-wide threat, the role of the System Administrator's job outlook does not appear to be in any danger of losing ground and, in fact, is full of promise.