How to Become a Systems Administrator

Systems Administrator

A systems administrator looks after all of the IT services of a particular business. They make sure that the employees can access the services and resolve any business IT issues.

A systems administrator is in charge of all of the IT services of an individual business. They deal with networks, the internet, the intranet, and applications used in a business, and will be on hand to help employees with any technical issues. Systems administrators can work across a variety of industries, but their place of work will usually be a large office. 

Systems administrators are similar to network administrators – however, systems administrators focus more on IT systems, including hardware, whereas network administrators specialise in employee networks. 

The duties of a systems administrator include: 

  • Ensuring that all of the hardware and software of a business is functioning as it should. 
  • Staying updated with events and issues in a businesses IT system, and fixing problems quickly – preferably before they impact other employees. 
  • Installing necessary applications to staff devices.
  • Updating systems when necessary. 
  • Addressing security issues. 
  • Creating and maintaining user accounts for individual employees. 

To become a systems administrator, most candidates will be expected to have an undergraduate degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field. Prior to applying, they may need 3-5 years of experience working in an IT related role.

An integral part of the systems administrator’s role is keeping updated with the dynamic and constantly changing world of IT. They can do this by taking independent courses and training. It goes without saying that systems administrators should have excellent technical knowledge of computer systems; both practical and theoretical. Further knowledge of coding, website development and machinery is also beneficial. 

Interpersonal skills are essential for systems administrators. They will act as the point of contact for any technical issues that the staff face, and must be able to explain technicalities to non-technical people. They must, therefore, be patient and clear with their directions. They should also have commercial awareness, so they can be sure that any decisions that they make align with the company objectives. 

Systems administrators should also be comfortable with great responsibility, as they will carry the full weight of looking after the IT systems. They may also need to manage other employees in the IT department. 

Being a systems administrator is all about solving problems; so professionals in this vocation should be able to look at issues in an analytical way and draw on their knowledge to offer solutions. They will often have to complete multiple tasks at once, so time management and delegation are crucial. 

Candidates should also be willing to constantly refresh their knowledge, and be hungry to learn more information. The technological world is constantly evolving, and a professional in this career will need to be ahead of public knowledge when it comes to IT.

Systems administrators typically work office hours, although they may be required to do overtime if large issues pop up. Working as a systems administrator is a senior role, but candidates may find opportunities to progress by specialising in cybersecurity or becoming an IT consultant. 

What degree is most commonly held by a Systems Administrator ?

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Criminal Justice and Corrections
  • Bachelor of Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Management Information Systems
  • Associate's Degree of Information Technology
  • Masters of Cyber Security and Information Technology

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: Low
As IT systems all over the world are very specific, and the job entails a lot of cultural knowledge, it might be challenging for systems administrators to find work abroad. However, some industry professionals who work for international companies may have the chance to be placed into other IT roles abroad.

What is the Salary of a Systems Administrator ?

ExperienceAverage salary | year
Systems Administrator1-3 yrs$40,000£31,500$41,098
Systems Administrator3-5 yrs$54,000£40,000$58,023
Systems Administrator5-10 yrs$60,000£55,000$63,000

What skills are needed to become a Systems Administrator ?

  • Windows Server
  • Active Directory
  • System Administration
  • VMware
  • Troubleshooting
  • Servers
  • Networking
  • Technical Support
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Network Administration
  • Microsoft Office
  • Virtualization
  • Linux
  • Windows
  • Customer Service
  • Windows 7
  • Disaster Recovery
  • ITIL
  • Operating Systems
  • Computer Hardware
  • DNS
  • VMware ESX
  • Management
  • *nix
  • Project Management

Systems Administration Courses

Knowledge is everything for systems administrators. It is essential that they stay updated with IT news, so taking relevant courses both when training and throughout their career is imperative. At FutureLearn, we have lots of relevant courses, including this one about the cyber security landscape.

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