How to Become a Systems Administrator

A systems administrator is truly a “jack of all trades” when it comes to computers and servers. Not only does the job description include downloading, maintaining, and updating software in a variety of platforms and operating systems, but these tech professionals must also train others how to use downloaded technology. Here are seven helpful steps to follow in order to enter this profession.

  1. Learn Microsoft tools.
  2. Learn appropriate programming and scripting languages.
  3. Learn SQL to support data management systems.
  4. Gain practical training.
  5. Understand the cloud.
  6. Get certified.
  7. Begin your formal education.

As companies adopt new email systems, data management systems, cloud team technology, and more, the system administrator is responsible for making the changes and training employees. Any skills that you can gain mentioned in the steps above will only increase your marketability in the field. Read more below about what the job entails and the variety of responsibilities for this position.

Job Description for a Systems Administrator

A systems administrator (or sysadmin) ensures that computer systems and servers operate effectively. While ensuring that computer systems and servers operate properly and with required security compliances, they also:

  • Troubleshoot issues
  • Update and upgrade software when needed
  • Provide training to staff on software
  • Provide technical support as needed
  • Install and maintain both the local area network and wide area network
  • Install and maintain both the physical and any virtual servers for their company or organization
  • Maintain company email accounts
  • Maintain data storage
  • Set up and support the accounts and access of all users of the systems and networks
  • Monitor and ensure the security and performance of individual computers as well as servers and networks

As true administrators, sysadmins hold a leadership role within companies. They are responsible for working within a given budget and help make decisions on what new software and hardware a company should purchase. They often supervise other computer support specialists including IT professionals.

As more companies rely on computers and the internet for information and communication, this technology field is only expected to grow in the future. This provides a fantastic job outlook for those looking to enter this profession.

Qualifications for a Systems Administrator

This profession requires knowledge in a variety of areas. Because of this, most employers require that their systems administrator has a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer and network systems administration, or computer engineering.

As more companies are transitioning to the cloud, system administrators must continue to update their training. System administrators are now responsible for technology that includes desktop devices, mobile devices, combined with cloud technology. The job description for this profession requires people who can see the big picture of how these technologies connect, as well as the smaller, intricate parts as problems and upgrades occur.

Employers also value hands-on experience, so following the top seven steps shared above can help you stand out to future opportunities seeking more than a degree in their sysadmin. It is important to remember that this job not only requires hard skills like the ones mentioned, but soft skills like communication and problem solving. With responsibilities that include troubleshooting and training employees, sysadmins work with a variety of people and problems. When adding users to new software and helping to reset passwords, update computer systems, and perform other duties, sysadmins are always interacting with others and communicating along the way. While these soft skills can’t necessarily be taught, hands-on practice and education combined can help you feel more comfortable communicating the craft as well as tackling problems as they arise.

As a whole, an organization’s sysadmin is one of the most important roles because they ensure the company can run smoothly with all associated technology. This profession will continue to be in demand in years to come as companies rely on more technology and cloud based services.

Steps to Become a Systems Administrator

  1. Learn Microsoft tools.

Microsoft Teams is popular in the business setting and sysadmins must be ready to utilize not only Teams but Microsoft 365 and office tools that they will be responsible for maintaining and monitoring.

  1. Learn appropriate programming and scripting languages.

Since programming no longer relies solely on programmers, modern sysadmins now benefit from learning one or more programming languages so they can perform parts of their job description. Redhat.com explains that knowing how to code in languages like Python, Go, and Node.js are highly recommended. HTML and JavaScript are also needed.

  1. Learn SQL to support data management systems.

Sysadmins are increasingly being asked to support and maintain data management systems. With this, it is important to learn Structured Query Language for database management.

  1. Gain practical training.

Working at a Help Desk as a technician or support associate helps you gain practical and hands-on knowledge to add to your resume and allows you to gain and apply skills needed for this position.

  1. Understand the cloud.

Flexera’s State of the Cloud report in 2019 highlighted that 94% of tech professionals surveyed use cloud and 84% have a strategy that combines public and private clouds. For sysadmins, it is important for them to understand how the cloud is designed and structured as well as key cloud providers and their security protocols and common issues. Microsoft 365 and Azure are two hybrid cloud platforms that are appealing to organizations. Having some base knowledge in these two suites will keep you in demand.

  1. Get certified.

Certifications in Windows 365 as a Modern Desktop Administrator Associate and in CompTIA: A+ will show that you have the skills needed to install and configure networks and hardware, work in Windows administrator tools, understand internet protocols, can troubleshoot basic IT problems, implement security features, and are familiar with most skills needed in this job.

  1. Begin your formal education.

There are bootcamps designed to train sysadmins in specific systems and programs and certifications like those mentioned in step 6. For example, Linux System Administrator Certification Bootcamp and Administrator Bootcamp Certification-Workfront are specific certifications that can be earned. To become a system administrator for a company beyond an entry-level position, most employers desire a bachelor’s degree in specific areas.

Explore schools offering Systems Administrator Bootcamps.

Job Outlook for a Systems Administrator

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for network and computer systems administrators from 2019 to 2029 is expected to grow at an average rate of 4%. As companies invest in more advanced technology, including tech for mobile devices, the need for systems administrators will continue to increase. Because of this expected need, CIO.com named network administrators (also known as system administrators) as one of the Top 10 Most In-Demand Tech Jobs For 2021.

Industries Where There is Demand for Systems Administrator

Systems administrators are needed in most industries and often fall under job titles such as IT specialists, system engineers, network engineers, and network administrators. With technology constantly progressing and an increase in mobile device use and applications, system administrators will continue to be in demand. As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the industries that had the highest concentration of network and computer system administrators included computer systems design, data processing and hosting, telecommunications, and computer equipment manufacturing. Local governments, colleges and universities also had high levels of employees in this field.

Salary Expectations for a Systems Administrator

In May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average salary to be $84,810. Additionally, the BLS states that the highest paying industries for these professionals are computer equipment manufacturing, specialized design services, cable and subscription programming, personal care services, and securities and financial investments. Salary also varies by state and region with Maryland, California, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut being the top paying states.


Next Steps to Becoming a Systems Admin

When looking to become a sysadmin, it is often helpful to learn the necessary skills in a more structured environment. Bootcamps are designed with curriculums that are geared towards needed skills and vary in intensity. Most bootcamps last 8-36 weeks and they are offered in-person, online, or with hybrid options. Each bootcamp program has different “perks” such as networking opportunities, mentorships, internships, and more. It is important to research bootcamp offerings to find the one that fits your needs and schedule.

Browse bootcamps for Systems Administrators.

Explore some of the top schools offering Systems Administrator bootcamps and find the right fit for your needs and schedule.