Network Administrator Education Requirements and Career Information

Network administrators provide support for local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), intranet, Internet or network segment systems. They are responsible for the network's overall stability and security, and many employers look for applicants that have an educational background in network systems.

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Education Requirements for Network Administration

A variety of degree programs are available in the field of network administration, often at the undergraduate level. These programs can be found under a variety of majors, including network administration, computer science, information science and MIS (management information systems).

Degree program coursework often consists of study in computer science, computer programming, network systems, systems security, advanced mathematics and statistics. MIS programs may also include additional courses in finance and database management.

Certification programs are another popular educational option in network administration. Many certification programs are designed for students who have completed a program in computer science, though some certification programs will accept candidates that have professional experience in network systems. Some of these programs offer a general overview of network systems, while most concentrate on vendor-specific applications, such as Microsoft, Cisco or Sun Microsystems.

Because of the rapid technological advancements in network systems, many professional network administrators periodically update their skills through advanced certification courses. Typically, these certification courses feature a small amount of courses focusing on a specialty and often last from only a few weeks to a few months in length.

Employment Outlook

A broad range of industries and organizations hire network administrators, including government agencies, academic institutions, financial firms and telecommunication companies. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of opportunities in this field was projected to increase 28%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This fast rate of growth was due to the push for faster and mobile technologies in the marketplace as well as tightened security for corporate data.

In 2010, the BLS reported that the median annual income for network administrators was $72,560, a nearly 10% increase from 2008 salaries. Average earnings fluctuated pretty significantly, based on industry. For example, the highest paid network administrators worked for oil and gas extraction companies, petroleum and coal manufacturing companies and financial investment firms, while those who worked in academic settings earned below-average wages (www.bls.gov).

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