System Administrator Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A System Administrator, or Systems Administrator, is responsible for overseeing the maintenance and security of company intranets and computer systems. Their duties include installing antivirus or malware protection software, responding to employee concerns or drafting documents to help employees use computer systems and coordinating with company leadership to determine new technologies that could enhance their company’s computer systems.

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System Administrator duties and responsibilities

System Administrators identify any problems in the system, anticipate potential issues and repair systems and software when necessary. Other duties and responsibilities may include:

  • Setting up new users and giving them access to the intranet
  • Managing and maintaining the file servers
  • Operating the firewall for the organization 
  • Monitoring the internet connection for security risks
  • Employing the latest security protocols
  • Monitoring the local area network (LAN) for threats or errors
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What does a System Administrator do?

System Administrators typically work for corporations across industries to ensure that employees have secure and efficient computer systems to fulfill their daily job responsibilities. They work closely with IT personnel and company employees to update systems, address security breaches and help troubleshoot issues. Their job is to plan for problematic situations and create procedures to restore computer systems and their functionality. They may also be responsible for coding systems or updating programs by altering code strings if necessary.

System Administrator skills and qualifications

A qualified candidate will have skills and qualifications that demonstrate the fact that they are capable of executing their job duties and fulfilling the various functions of their role. Some of the skills and qualifications of a System Administrator include:

  • Ability to solve problems in stressful situations
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Communication skills 
  • Ability to explain technical concepts to inexperienced users
  • Time management skills

System Administrator salary expectations

The average annual salary for a System Administrator is $83,579 per year. Actual pay for a System Administrator depends on the experience and educational background of the candidate.

System Administrator education and training requirements

Education requirements for a System Administrator vary because it’s a role that can be filled by people who have knowledge either through education or actual work experience with operating and monitoring local area networks. An ideal candidate could have an associate or bachelor’s degree in computer science, but someone with multiple certifications can be just as capable of fulfilling the job duties. Certifications include Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), CompTIA Server+, Red Hat Certified System Administrator, Red Hat Certified Engineer and VMware Certified Professional.

System Administrator experience requirements

An ideal System Administrator candidate will have experience with databases, networks, upgrading hardware and software, designing networks, laying out the infrastructure for LANs, troubleshooting network outages and user troubles and the ability to communicate clearly. They will also be up-to-date on the latest security protocols for the LAN and wide area network (WAN) and be able to educate users on how to handle suspicious emails and requests for sensitive information. A candidate for the role should also be able to program scripts to run internal functions and have sufficient Unix knowledge. 

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Frequently asked questions about System Administrators


What is the difference between a System Administrator and a Network Administrator?

Some employers use the titles “System Administrator” and “Network Administrator” interchangeably, but there are a few differences that separate these roles from one another. For example, System Administrators focus on making sure a corporation’s computer systems have the correct software and updates to store important data, protect against security breaches and retrieve lost data. 

In contrast, Network Administrators focus on making sure computer systems have fast WiFi and limited disruptions that cause it to slow or stop working altogether. Network Administrators are also more likely to work with and install physical equipment the routers.


What are the daily duties of a System Administrator?

On a typical day, a System Administrator starts by checking company computer systems to make sure they’re secure and working correctly. They check their email and voicemail to see if they have any service requests from company employees and schedule times for themselves or other IT personnel to assist employees with computer issues. 

Throughout the day, System Administrators participate in meetings with the IT department and upper management staff to discuss upcoming changes to the system or recurring complaints from employees. They also spend time reviewing the department budget and researching beneficial software to incorporate into computer systems.


What qualities make a good System Administrator?

A good System Administrator has excellent interpersonal communication. This quality enables them to adjust their communication strategies depending on whether they’re speaking to an experienced IT professional or a company employee with a limited understanding. They value continued education and use their spare time to enhance their programming abilities. They also stay up-to-date on new software and beneficial technologies that could help streamline company systems. 

Further, a good System Administrator is attentive to details, which helps them catch system errors and potential security risks. A good System Administrator also has an innovative mindset that motivates them to develop unique ideas for their computer systems.


Who does a System Administrator report to?

Because System Administrators are IT professionals, they usually work as members of the IT department and report directly to the IT Department Manager. However, they can also report indirectly to the IT Director, Chief Information Officer (CIO) or the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). System Administrators typically need to get approval from these individuals before performing major maintenance or changes to their organization’s IT systems.

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