Technology plays an important role in every business, and it’s why system administrators play such a vital role in the success of any company. A system administrator handles a variety of jobs within a company, but those jobs certainly differ in every company. The system administrator salary is determined by the amount of work, the size of the company, and a plethora of other factors. Understanding what separates one system administrator from another is helpful.
Managing servers and computer systems is a difficult task for those who aren’t familiar with the specifics. A system admin, which is what a system administrator is commonly called, works to maintain the integrity of each computer system, the technological security within a company, and the servers that keep a business up and running. It’s possible to run a business without this type of employee, but the work involved in managing servers and computer systems is extensive, and it’s a full-time job. The industry continues to grow, and the need for system administrators in every career field is growing annually.
WHAT IS A SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR?
A system administrator works to keep all technology secure, safe, and updated. The job entails managing proper upgrades, dealing with outsourced tech support systems, and repairing operations when they fail to work correctly. They manage the usage, add storage, repair issues when they arise, and train users. The system admin provides, manages, and removes access to new and former employees, and they test system performance before making suggestions to purchase, add, or remove equipment to benefit the business.
A system administrator manages all aspects of a business’ technological field.
EDUCATION & CERTIFICATION
There is no direct path associated with becoming a system administrator. It does not require a specific college education to become a system administrator, but some companies ask that their applicants hold a college degree in something. You will not spend years in school, you don’t need any state or national certifications, and some companies won’t require you have any sort of education if you have experience. This is what you must know if you’re considering a career in system administration.
Experience is valuable for landing a job as a system administrator. Unlike becoming a doctor or a teacher, not all companies are looking for a candidate with a college degree. While a degree is preferred in many industries, experience can take an applicant much further if they can perform tasks and duties quickly and efficiently, and if they will stay up-to-date on the tech field as it changes and emerges new systems.
Here’s where the requirements to work as a system administrator become more specific. Every company uses its own version of technology. Some might use the same systems as other companies, but every business has their favorite type of technology, and they might ask that you have a certification or license in that specific type of technology.
For example, if a company uses Microsoft products, they might require you attend a Microsoft certification course, pass a test, and obtain a certificate in that technology. You can attend IT conferences, take certification courses online, or take courses in person when they are offered near you. Your employer will let you know what you need, when you must have it, and where you need to go to take the courses and become certified. Cisco is the other most common certificate of coursework many system admins need.
If your employer wants you certified in a specific area of your work, they will almost always pay for you to attend courses to obtain your certification. It’s helpful to have the basic certificates prior to applying for a job to increase your chance of being hired, but it’s not always required.
CONTINUING EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS
Continuing education is required on a case-by-case basis. If your employer requires you have certifications from certain companies, they’ll likely require you attend any continuing education courses to update and renew your certificates if they expire. This is something you’ll discuss with your employer as every industry has its own set of requirements.
Information technology changes every day, which means there is always a need for system administrators in any industry. It’s a fast-growing industry perfect for anyone who loves technology, understands it, and wants to continue to learn more about it every day as it continuously changes. As technology continues to take over more aspects of every business, there is a growing need for companies to hire people who can manage their systems and protect their company.
The career path is wide open for anyone who shows a special aptitude for the role, but it’s best for those who have a bachelor’s degree in computer science as well as a variety of system certificates. Staying up-to-date with the newest technology, trends, and features in the industry gives you an edge to start your own business, to support local businesses with a business of your own, or to work within a company as their own personal system administrator. Exponential growth occurs in this line of work.
AVERAGE SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR SALARY
The median system administrator salary in the United States is approximately $81,100. You can earn more or less depending on where you live and what industry you work in as a system administrator. It’s easier to earn more in cities with a rich tech field such as San Francisco, and it’s more common to earn less in areas where technological growth is not as widespread.
Those who make the most earn an average of $130,000 per year, but there are always those who work in smaller fields and earn less than $50,000 per year. The highest paid system administrators can be found in areas such as San Francisco, but states such as Maryland and the District of Columbia are among the most profitable areas to earn a higher system administrator salary.
Anyone hoping to earn a higher system administrator salary should earn a bachelor’s degree, become certified in certain products, and open their own business. Supporting local businesses and companies within the company is one thing, but being able to support more than one company at a time is a more profitable experience that leads to a higher system administrator salary.
SALARY BY FIELD
A system administrator in the education services industry will make less than a system admin who works in the information or finance industry. Computer information, finance, healthcare, and insurance companies typically pay their system admin more money to support their network due to the private nature of their information. Computer system design and company management system admins are paid less on average, and it’s those in the educational field who make the least. Choosing the right field helps you increase your salary significantly if you’re looking to earn the most money right away.
YOUR FUTURE AS A SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR
A system administrator salary is good, but it can become impressive the more you learn. By obtaining all the certifications and working diligently, you can advance your career to become a database administrator, a computer system analyst, or even an IT manager. Each of these jobs is easier to do if you have experience as a system administrator, and each one pays more than the last. A desire to learn takes you far in the tech field as a system administrator. Employers want to see their system admin continuously growing, learning, and providing knowledgeable feedback to their company. This ensures growth and security, and that's valuable in any industry.
Working in bigger cities for companies with a larger computer network typically means you earn more income. Working in a smaller office without much tech to support equates to a much lower paycheck. This career field lies somewhere in between a specialized field and a trade. The computer industry has changed so much in the past few decades, and it’s meant new jobs, and new requirements have been added throughout with little more than just experience. It bodes well for those without a college degree, but a degree helps.
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