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Computer System Administrator

Computer System Administrator

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The Organizer
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The Persuader
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The Problem Solver

Spotlights

Similar Titles

Network engineer, Network analyst, Systems administrator, IT systems administrator, IT Specialist

Job Description

Network or computer systems administrators install, configure, and support an organization's local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), and Internet systems or a segment of a network system.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • If you enjoy technology, you get to work with it all day!
  • If you like problem-solving, you get to do that every day!
  • Job Security: With more and more companies using technology, there is more demand than supply for this career.
  • Pay: Salary increases can possibly be very quick; however there are a lot of factors that go into making that happen.
The Inside Scoop
General Overview
  • Size of the company can play a big part in determining your daily routine - larger companies have more defined roles, in smaller companies you do a little of everything.
  • Some companies require you to clock in and out, others are more liberal with their timekeeping, adopting a “just get the job done” attitude.
  • Unless the company is very small, generally you’ll work in teams to try to keep your company running or help it grow.
  • Many companies run 24/7, so if you are in charge of the servers or network, you will likely be put on a rotating on-call schedule.
Skills Needed on the Job
  • Technical knowledge:
    • For desktop support, you should know Windows or Mac OS.  
    • For servers, knowing Microsoft server or Linux/Unix will be necessary, as well as server hardware.  
    • For network jobs, understanding networking and network hardware, as well as specific vendors like Cisco will be needed.
  • Creativity and the ability to think outside the box.
  • Problem-solving
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Ability to work under pressure and lots of deadlines.
  • Management level: clear communication and organizational skills
Job Responsibilities
  • Monitors network to ensure network availability to all system users and may perform necessary maintenance to support network availability.
  • May monitor and test Web site performance to ensure Web sites operate correctly and without interruption.
  • May assist in network modeling, analysis, planning, and coordination between network and data communications hardware and software. 
  • May supervise computer user support specialists and computer network support specialists.
Sample Resume

Company 1
IT Director 2 YEARS Upper Level  

  • Managed IT department, consisting of a team of consultants, application and desktop support technicians.
  • Restructured network to increase speed while saving the company $X per year.
  • Rebuilt aging server room with multiple cooling, power, and aesthetic issues into clean room with limited access and sufficient cooling and power.
  • Redesigned backup process from individual tape based backups to consolidated reliable D2D backups.
  • Built server monitoring system to check system health, availability, storage issues and performance.               

Company 2
Vice President, Information Technology 1 YEAR Upper Level   

  • Supported all aspects of IT, including applications, helpdesk support, web services, email, databases, vendor relationships, purchasing, architecture, and development.
  • Supervised support technicians, webmasters, engineers and external consultants.
  • Analyzed infrastructure and built maps of application data flows, physical hardware, and network connectivity.
  • Increased performance for databases, email, and file servers by analyzing performance removing bottlenecks.
  • Built redundancy and recovery into infrastructure by repairing failing raid arrays. 

Company 3
IT Manager (Promotion) 2 YEARS Mid/Upper Level  

  • Managed 17 admins and desktop techs supporting over X users and Y servers.
  • Reported status updates in weekly operations calls attended by executives.

Project Manager (Promotion) 2 YEARS Mid Level        

  • Managed new satellite office builds, including facilities, data, phone services and contracted resources; all sites were operational ahead of schedule by up to 14 days allowing sales offices to begin generating revenue earlier than expected.
  • Managed the creation and implementation of a new data center that houses all critical software and hardware.

Senior Systems Administrator/Exchange Administrator 4 YEARS – Mid Level     

  • Maintained network services including DNS, DHCP, WINS, FTP, File/Print, Exchange, and SNMP for monitoring.
  • Performed process analysis on infrastructure resulting in reduced power and space utilization by reallocating resources.

Company 4
Microsoft Administrator 2 YEARS – Entry Level, part time    

  • Designed and built Microsoft based infrastructure for a small office using NT Workstation and Server.
  • Built a proxy server to speed up internet caching as well as to serve as a router for internet sharing.
  • Served as the primary contact for desktop software and hardware troubleshooting and training.
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • The first years will be spent doing a lot of support work, which means possibly dealing with irate individuals.
  • Once you start moving up, you can potentially be expected to be on call, which can cut into your social time.
  • Many companies have a “keep going till the job is done” attitude, which means that if what you’re working on is critical to the company, you can potentially pull an all nighter for work.  Those are generally very rare though, and only for extreme cases.
Current Industry Trends
  • More and more companies are realizing the benefit of IT.  Even companies that traditionally were not very technologically savvy are realizing they need to be to remain competitive.  There is really nothing that points to technology tapering off or going away.
  • Growth is expected in healthcare industries as their use of information technology increases. More administrators will be required to manage the growing systems and networks found at hospitals and other healthcare institutions.
2016 Employment
391,300
2026 Projected Employment
415,300
Education Needed
  • Types of Degrees:     
    • Minimum of an Associate’s Degree is mandatory. Bachelor’s degree is recommended.  A Master’s is a plus to climb the management ladder.
    • Degree in computer science, software engineering, management information systems, information technology.
  • Although a 4 year degree typically won’t help getting a first job in IT as much as in other fields, possessing a degree will certainly help down the line as your career starts to get going.  
  • Certifications: like MCP, A+, and CCNA, will help getting past the initial recruiter, who tends to be less technical.  It will also help your resume stand out if a lot of people are applying.
Things to do in high school
  • Figure out if working with computers for a living is interesting to you.  You will be in front of a monitor for a large portion of the working day.  
  • There are also private labs available that are certified by Microsoft, Sun, Cisco, etc that can help you get real world experience in computers, but they can vary greatly in price and effectiveness.
Education Stats
  • 7.9% with HS Diploma
  • 15% with Associate’s
  • 40.1% with Bachelor’s
  • 10% with Master’s
  • 1% with Doctoral

*% of employees aged 25 to 44 in the occupation whose highest level of educational attainment is

Typical Roadmap
IT Roadmap jpg
How to land your 1st job
  • Attend job fairs.
  • Appear professional and well-spoken during your interview.
  • Get certifications.
  • Work on getting your resume to one page, and make sure you have a cover letter.
  • Ability to showcase your skills may be necessary when you get to the technical interviewer, so they know it’s not just book knowledge.
  • Apply online:  Dice.com, Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, and Indeed.com
  • Set up a LinkedIn account to network with some people who may work at a company you’re interested in.
  • After the first interview, a follow up email or thank you card can be helpful to both separate yourself from other candidates, and to keep your name in the mind of the hiring manager.
How to stay competitive and stay in the game
  • Read articles/magazines/books: technology is a rapidly changing field, possibly more so than any other occupation.  
  • Try out new hardware when available.
  • Accept or volunteer for new projects that are outside of what you know to expand your knowledge.  This will not only help your skills, but show management that you are willing to go outside of your comfort zone.
Qualities of those who enjoy it
  • Enjoys problem solving: You will face anywhere from mundane to unique problems every day, and figuring them out is key to success and enjoyment.  
  • Interest in technology: If you don’t like technology, you will quickly become bored and get stuck in your current position.
What to look for in a mentor
  • Someone who has had success in your field of interest.
  • Someone who does not complain about their job very often.
  • Someone who may have had a similar background to yourself, so that you can relate to how they succeeded.
  • Someone who you can trust and you look up to in both a professional and individual sense.
Recommended Tools/Resources
Words of Advice

“Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get interviews or offers right away.  You may, but sometimes there are automatic filters or non-technical recruiters who filter the wrong resumes.  Additionally, they may be looking for a specific type of person, quiet/talkative, funny/boring, personable/professional, that has nothing to do with skills.  If you are passed up because of this, it may be a good thing, because you want to be able to fit in without changing too much.  Keep in mind there are new jobs opening up all the time.  You want to present yourself as excited to join the company, not desperate to find any job.” Scott Ishida, VP of Information Technology

Infographic

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Computer Systems Administrator Gladeographix

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Source: Interviews, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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