Systems Administrator Job Description and Career Overview


Systems Administrator: Career Overview


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Modern companies depend heavily on their computer systems to keep their businesses operating. Systems administrators, also known as sysadmins, play a vital role in this process. Their actions ensure hardware and software stays reliable, up to date, and secure.

Here’s a more in-depth look at what systems administrators do and what it takes to become one.

Systems Administrator Job Description

Systems administrators keep a close watch on a company’s hardware and software. They know technology needs to work consistently for employees to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively.

A sysadmin makes sure the computer systems run smoothly, particularly when multiple users access the system at the same time. Sysadmins also make sure a company’s website stays online and is secure from outside threats. They also optimize the site to help create a good user experience.

Other common systems administrator tasks include:

  • Installing hardware and software
  • Managing virtual machines in the data center and the cloud
  • Evaluating system performance and making recommendations for upgrades
  • Maintaining security through updates, patches, and proper permissions
  • Monitoring systems to spot potential trouble
  • Problem-solving when things go wrong
  • Handling back-up procedures
  • Training staff on the use of new technology and offering support as needed

Note, too, that the range of responsibilities varies by the size of the company. At places with small IT teams, systems administrators often take on additional duties that would fall under the job description of a network administrator, database administrator, or security administrator at a larger firm.

Because companies and industries rely on a functioning computer network, sysadmins can expect to work overtime or odd hours. For example, if there’s a network crash at 2:00 a.m., you may be called on to fix it.

Useful Skills

A sysadmin will wear a lot of hats in their role. Being able to multi-task and establish priorities helps since these professionals are frequently pulled in many directions. Good problem-solvers with outstanding analytical skills will often fare well as systems administrators, as will those who can maintain their composure under pressure to calmly find solutions as quickly as possible. And solid communication skills allow sysadmins to clearly convey information to both tech staff and regular workers.

Education and Certifications

While some may possess only a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree, most systems administrators hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field. Those looking to advance into managerial positions may gain an edge with a master’s degree in business administration, computer information systems, or something similar.

Since no two companies use the same products, employers seek candidates with specific certifications to make sure they can get up to speed quickly. Some of the frequently mentioned certifications in job ads include:

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
  • Oracle Linux System Administrator
  • Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
  • CompTIA Server+
  • IBM Certified System Administrator

Test takers learn the material through attending classes (in-person or online) or completing a self-study program of readings, videos, and other training materials. As tech changes quickly, systems administrators should consider themselves life-long learners devoted to staying relevant.

Systems Administrator Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2019, the median pay for a sysadmin was $83,510 per year or $40.15 per hour. The BLS predicts that between 2018 and 2028, the field will have a 5% growth rate, which is about as fast as average. However, the BLS also warns that as more companies adopt cloud computing, growth in the sysadmin field could slow.

Your Career as a Systems Administrator

Since so many fields utilize computer systems, sysadmins find work in a variety of industries, including finance, insurance, information, educational services, government, healthcare, and telecommunications. Relevant experience in a specific field can help you stand out as a sysadmin candidate.

To find your sysadmin career, along with remote IT Jobs, log in to FlexJobs today and check out remote and flexible sysadmin roles. Not a member? Take the tour today!

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