A network administrator maintains the computer systems for the company for which they work. Alternatively, they may fill the same capacity for client companies, working out of a computer systems or network administration firm; this model is particularly viable in major metropolitan areas with large tech startup communities, such as in New York, Dallas and Seattle. In either case, the specific duties of a network administrator are broad and varied; they may change, from one job or employer to the next, but they inevitably involve the maintenance of on-site servers, software interactions, and network integrity. Network administrator salary expectations are high, particularly from the perspective of recent college graduates, and there is a lot of room for upward mobility: the prevalence of the position makes for strong opportunities for lateral advancement, as the savvy administrator moves between jobs to accumulate experience.
Experienced networking professionals who find the right niche, or who work for a large third-party or consulting firm, can make upwards of $200,000 per year or more. Here's a little more information about network administrator salary expectations, and about contributing factors:
Qualifications to Be a Network Administrator
Network administrators deal with a range of software-software and software-hardware interactions that are more or less the focal point of their specialization. As such, there are a range of platforms and protocols in which they must typically be certified. A network administrator should be certified in Juniper, Cisco, CWNA, Brocade, and F5-CA, or in a sub-set thereof which is particular to their function. Other, less essential certifications include Microsoft's network certification, Novell, CompTIA, and Linux's Red Hat. These are particularly advised for someone wishing to make a career as an administrator, as opposed to a lower-level networking employee, and may advance salary expectations commensurately. Most network administrators have a Bachelor's degree in a related IT field, but an equivalent amount of experience can work in the otherwise qualified (and appropriately certified) professional's favor.
Job Outlook and Projected Growth
Network administrators reflect an approximate 8% growth rate over the next ten years. This is slightly ahead of the average for American industries overall, and is significantly behind other areas of IT. However, this percentage doesn't take into account the overall prominence of the position. Thanks to its presence in a much more diverse portfolio of industries and organizations than that represented by other IT positions, that growth rate represents the creation of more than 30,000 new positions. Additionally, there are other job opportunities for network administrators, which pay extremely well: the qualifications work well for cybersecurity professionals and database administrators, among other positions. This greatly expands the range of employment opportunities available to new networking administration graduates with an applicable degree, typically in computer science or information technology.
Median Salary for Network Administrators
Today in America, the median annual salary for network administrators is just short of $80,000 per year, at approximately $39 per hour for workers earning an hourly wage in the field. This is more than twice the earning potential for the average worker employed across all industries in America. It's significantly more than what is earned, on average, by a wide range of skilled laborers and critical operations specialists, reflecting the increased demand for skilled network administrators in every field of industry. In addition, network administrators have a broader employment spectrum than many IT developers and other industry professionals, because businesses not otherwise affiliated with IT directly still require skilled individuals to manage their networks.
Networking administrators can expect a salary significantly higher than that of the average worker, nearly double the average annual income within the United States. While there are other positions within the computer and IT industries that pay more to start with, the network administrator position combines a solid starting pay with a wide range of applicability, lots of hiring positions, and a range of cross-compatible expertise.