Systems Administrator Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Systems Administrator, or SysAdmin, is an information technology professional responsible for managing the software and hardware involved with running a computer network. Their duties include tracking network traffic and activity, installing and configuring software updates and performing database backups to restore and protect user information.

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Systems Administrator duties and responsibilities 

Systems Administrators are responsible for managing and maintaining the hardwired lines and wireless connections in a system and the hardware that hooks up to that system. Job duties specific to a Systems Administrator may include:

  • Analyzing and figuring out the system needs of an organization 
  • Installing hardware and software for the network
  • Keeping systems operating efficiently by performing any necessary upgrades and repairs
  • Planning a strategy to maintain system security on the computers and the network as a whole
  • Optimizing and evaluating the system regularly
  • Assigning and updating security permissions for the system network
  • Training or directing users on the correct use of software and hardware within the system
  • Performing problem-solving tasks when alerted by a user or monitoring system
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What does a Systems Administrator do? 

Systems Administrators are a central part of IT teams that support software functions, data transfers and network connectivity for computer systems. Their role is to oversee the network as a whole, making routine improvements and updates to ensure the system can handle all networking tasks and meet security requirements. System administrators may person tech support for complex issues when other IT professionals need help with a complex ticket. 

System Administrators create policies and procedures for documenting problems, making corrections and communicating both internally and with clients. They research computing tools, determine when to replace critical parts of a network and develop protocols for integrating new technology while preserving system functions.

Systems Administrator skills and qualifications 

Aside from the appropriate education and training, there are several skills that are important for Systems Administrators to possess, such as:

  • Interpersonal skills to facilitate productive working relationships
  • The ability to stay organized
  • Communication skills to explain complicated computer concepts
  • Discretion in handling people’s private information on data servers and throughout the network.
  • Problem-solving skills
  • The ability to work and collaborate within a team

Systems Administrator salary expectations 

A Systems Administrator makes an average of $83,159 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Systems Administrator education and training requirements 

In order to enter this profession, individuals typically must earn at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science. However, there are some companies that only require candidates to possess an associate degree or certification. Additionally, Systems Administrators are often required to become certified in specific types of hardware, software or products. Though a master’s degree in business administration or computer information systems is unnecessary to enter the field, it is beneficial for candidates that are hoping to progress into more managerial positions.

Systems Administrator experience requirements 

Most companies require that candidates for the Systems Administrator position have at least 3-5 years of experience working in network administration, system administration or databases. This experience should include exposure to automation and scripting tools, as well as a working knowledge of networking protocols, hardware and networking software. Additionally, they must possess a track record of developing and implementing various IT strategies and plans. 

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Frequently asked questions about Systems Administrator


What is the difference between a Systems Administrator and a Tech Support Specialist?

Systems Administrators and Tech Support Specialists are both IT professionals who serve an essential role in keeping computer systems and networks functioning, with Systems Administrators focusing on the overall function of a computing system while Tech Support Specialists work with individual users. Both roles require a strong understanding of how a computer system works, but System Administrators apply their knowledge to improve operations while Tech Support Specialists help individual users navigate the network’s interface.

Tech Support Specialists are the first people that a user communicates with if they have an issue with a network. They receive tickets about user problems and investigate to determine if user error caused the issue or if the network isn’t functioning. If a Tech Support Specialist is unable to resolve the user’s problem, they escalate the ticket to a System Administrator, who has more technical knowledge and greater permissions to fix bugs.


What are the daily duties of a Systems Administrator?

Systems Administrators work in an office environment where they use computing tools to observe and adjust system behavior. They may also visit clients in the field to address hardware problems, repair server issues and install new components to build the physical infrastructure for a new system. System Administrators start the say by checking all of their monitoring tools to identify major issues that need immediate attention. They check emails and messages to learn about bugs, disk space issues and other system errors or inefficiencies. 

System Administrators meet with clients to discuss their computing needs and identify how they can access system tools while keeping their information secure. They answer phone calls, mentor IT Support Staff, plan updates and delegate incoming tasks to members of their team. System Administrators also perform research to find ways to improve system efficiency by identifying signal interruptions and environmental factors that impact network performance.


What are the characteristics of a good Systems Administrator?

Because Systems Administrators have to handle a high volume of incoming tasks in their queue, they must be excellent at managing their time and multitasking. Good System Administrators can focus on a task while handling ongoing interruptions from people asking for help or more urgent tasks coming up. After resolving emergencies, they can effortlessly shift back to their original tasks. Successful System Administrators are great at critical thinking and problem solving, and enjoy experimenting to find the best possible solution to an issue.


What are the types of Systems Administrators?

There are several types of System Administrators that oversee a certain aspect of system operations: Network Administrators, Security Administrators, Database Administrators and Server Administrators. Some System Administrators are responsible for multiple roles while others exclusively focus on their subject area. For example, a Security Administrator is in charge of cybersecurity, password protection and user access. A Server Administrator may have some security responsibilities alongside running hardware and operating systems.

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