Skip to Main Content

What Is a Systems Administrator and How to Become One

What Is the Job Description of a Systems Administrator?

The primary duties of a system administrator are to install, update, and maintain computer systems while managing user access regimes. As a systems administrator, you have administrative privileges to change settings, install or remove software, and access security functions unavailable to normal users. A systems administrator might oversee multiple machines at once, or even an entire network. You provide technical support to users who are experiencing problems and collaborate with network administrators to ensure the continued performance of the network. As a systems administrator, you determine the level of access a user has to network information and what operations they can perform, limiting users to only what they need to perform their job.

How to Become a Systems Administrator

The primary qualification required for a Systems Administrator job is a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, computer engineering, or related field. Some employers require prior work experience in a similar role or certification. The type of certification will vary depending on the role and your desired career path, but some examples include Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) and CompTIA Server+. Additional skills and qualifications include problem-solving under stress, communicating effectively with others, and working in a team environment. You can find System Administrator jobs in various settings, including information technology and network design firms, hospitals, corporations, financial firms, and government offices. Typical duties and responsibilities include assessing an organization’s system needs, installing network software and hardware, upgrading and repairing networks, ensuring network operation continuity, assessing security breaches, and problem-solving user issues.

Where Do Systems Administrators Work?

Systems administrators work mostly in office settings where large numbers of computers are in use. Systems administrators also work in schools, industrial settings, and anywhere where users of a computer are not allowed unfettered access. System administrators prevent security issues by managing user permissions and security features, ensuring users are only able to access the information required to complete their work.

What Are the Skills Required to Become a Systems Administrator?

To be a systems administrator, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, or a related field. You should be proficient with every major operating system and have a strong working knowledge of programming languages. Voluntary certifications, like those offered by CompTIA, are useful in displaying your skills and will set you ahead of other candidates. Some employers require candidates have these certifications.

What Qualities Make a Good System Administrator?

A good systems administrator knows and understands the information security policies of their organization. You maintain these policies at all times to prevent potentially costly data breaches. Systems administrators must also maintain confidentiality and may be required to sign non-disclosure agreements if they work with sensitive personal information.