What Are IT Administrators? (Plus How To Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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Information technology (IT) administrators maintain access to vital IT services and networks. They work with both hardware and software in the workplace. Knowing what an IT administrator does can help you determine whether it's the right career to pursue. In this article, we explain what IT administrators are, their typical duties, required qualifications, their salaries and job outlook and the skills they require to thrive.

Related: A Beginner's Guide To Information Technology

What are IT administrators?

IT administrators, also known as system administrators, configure and maintain a company's computers, servers, networks, enterprise software and security systems. They also optimize internal IT infrastructure for greater productivity and help the company stay compliant with cybersecurity regulations. Almost every organization uses operating systems, email servers and the Internet, which an IT administrator oversees.

Below are two common IT administration roles:

  • Database administrators: These IT administrators supervise databases, ensuring the integrity, security and accessibility of the company's data.

  • Network administrators: Network administrators manage local and wide area networks, intranet platforms or network system systems.

Related: 15 Careers in Cybersecurity

What do IT administrators do?

IT administrators carry out various duties related to the maintenance and management of a company's computer infrastructure. When a company experiences network issues or its IT infrastructure fails, an IT administrator investigates and analyzes the issue and recommends and implements solutions. Though the specific day-to-day tasks of an IT administrator may vary depending on the organization, there are some common duties. For example, as an IT administrator, you might:

  • Support and maintain company data and technological infrastructure

  • Repair, upgrade and configure desktop computers, servers and various office peripherals

  • Provide technical assistance and remote computer or network support to end users

  • Apply updates and patches to enterprise applications

  • Perform server patch maintenance, system and server backups and data archiving

  • Implement and maintain firewall systems to protect the company's systems from viruses and hackers

  • Troubleshoot and resolve software, hardware and connection issues

  • Create new user accounts and change or delete existing accounts per request

What is the salary and job outlook for IT administrators?

The national average salary for IT administrators is $61,174 per year. However, specific salaries may depend on your geographic location, work experience and employer.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects that demand for IT administrators may grow by 4% by the year 2029 as firms continue to invest in newer and faster technologies. This projection is in line with the average growth rate of other professions.

What qualifications do you need to become an IT administrator?

IT administrators need the following requirements to pursue this profession:

Education and training requirements

IT administrators often have a degree in computer science, systems engineering or network administration. A master's degree is desirable, though, not required unless it's a higher-level role. It also helps if you earn a CompTIA Network+, CompTIA CySA+, CCNA, Window Servers or Windows Client certification. Earning any of these certifications can help you perform specialized tasks such as cloud migration, networking and threat mitigation.

Related: 5 IT Certifications for Your Career

Work experience requirements

IT administrators may need at least three years of job experience for entry-level roles and five years of experience for mid-level roles. If you're pursuing a senior role, you typically need at least 10 years of relevant managerial experience. Some organizations may substitute a master's degree in IT in place of relevant experience. As a competitive role, it's important for you to have extensive experience with networks, IT systems and related technologies to ensure the company's systems function at a high level.

What skills are useful for IT administrators?

IT administrators must be familiar with various networking technologies, have a firm grasp of computer networking and understand project management practices. Here are some skills that can help you thrive in IT administration:

  • Networking skills: IT administrators use their networking skills to install and configure hardware, to ensure the company's networks run smoothly and to ensure end users have the connectivity to perform their jobs.

  • Database administration: Data is invaluable for many firms because it can give insight into customer preferences and behaviors, allowing companies to serve them more effectively. Using their database administration skills, IT administrators access and manage this critical asset securely.

  • IT security: Federal regulations require companies to protect user data, which may otherwise be vulnerable to threats like hackers. As an IT administrator, you need strong IT security skills to protect your company's data and systems from these threats.

  • Cloud management: Cloud computing is the access and use of computing services over the internet rather than from a computer's hard drive. If you work for a company that uses cloud computing, knowledge of its function, the qualities of different cloud services and the security issues surrounding the cloud can help you create an effective and safe cloud infrastructure.

  • Troubleshooting and problem-solving skills: IT administrators need strong technical expertise and problem-solving skills to identify and resolve any problems with programs and systems within their company's network.

  • Collaboration: IT administrators need strong collaboration skills, both as team players and as leaders. This skill helps you successfully interact with different personnel at various levels.

  • End-user training: IT administration entails managing networks and helping other employees. Therefore, it's important to have end-user training as an IT administrator.

Related: 11 Benefits of Cloud Computing

How to become an IT administrator

If you're interested in IT administration, it's important to know how to pursue this career in the workforce. Use these five steps to enter this profession:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

Get a bachelor's degree in computer science or IT from a recognized university. This degree typically takes four years for full-time students to complete. While a computer science degree often covers courses such as programming languages, types of operating systems and network and systems administration, an IT degree may cover topics such as infrastructure and hardware, application support and IT operations management.

In addition to a degree, explore opportunities for experiential learning and internships. These opportunities can help you build a professional network which may prove beneficial when you search for jobs after you graduate.

2. Gain work experience

Typically, employers prefer applicants with at least three years of experience in IT administration or in a related field. To gain this experience, consider pursuing entry-level roles. Volunteering or freelancing can also help you gain the experience or skills you need as an IT administrator.

3. Pursue IT certifications

Consider pursuing certifications like the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate or the CompTIA Server+ to distinguish you from other job applicants. Earning a certification in this field can give you the skills you need and validate your IT qualifications.

4. Develop strong interpersonal skills

Since you're the first point of contact for IT problems, make sure you know how to manage different people and how to stay calm—even under pressure. Apart from interpersonal skills, develop your problem-solving skills, time-management skills and good judgment.

5. Apply for IT jobs

Tailor your resume and cover letter to every IT administrator job you apply for. Make sure your resume highlights your relevant strengths, skills, qualifications and experience. Check trusted online job boards for openings. Also, consider joining a professional network such as the League of Professional System Administrators. Professional networks like these may help you establish the right connections to help you advance in the workforce.

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