What Do You Need To Become A System Administrator?

System administrators are the unsung heroes of the technology world. Their jobs may be a bit unglamorous, but they are absolutely crucial to the unfettered use of our favourite web services, corporate IT operations, business computer systems and internal networks. Here at System Architects, our teams of expert system administrators can help you manage critical IT infrastructure, leaving your company free to focus on business and not racks of computer hardware.

system admin


Though being a system administrator, or sys admin for shorthand, includes some relatively monotonous and mundane actions, they’re all crucial to the ongoing operation of computer systems and IT operations more generally. The sys admin in one way acts as the schoolteacher of an IT system and support, making sure each computer-slash-pupil is doing their work – and doing it efficiently and diligently, without making any errors. And when errors do occur, they make sure they’re corrected.

System administrators can also vary widely in their skillsets. For smaller organizations or companies, a single sys admin may have to be something of an expert in everything – the digital jack-of-all-trades. However, in a larger enterprise such as the world of corporate IT, there will be several system administrators with each having his or her own area of speciality.

Sys admin act as the first point of contact for those using an IT network or system that runs into a problem or system failure. The system administrator will first triage the problem, figuring out what exactly is technically wrong, and then seek out information on how to remedy the situation. If need be, they’ll test out hardware and look for bugs and errors in software, and can sometimes even deal with the vendors of those systems if more help is needed.

All this is to say that system administrators need to be highly skilled and versatile. They also need to be constantly learning about the latest developments in the world of computer, just in case shifts in hardware and software from vendors occur – change that can disrupt a company’s business.

Those looking to start a career as a system administrator will usually need some post-secondary education – usually at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, which will come in very handy to a sys admin dealing with Internet technology or running a company’s internal network. In addition to this education, most companies are looking for system administrators with experience. Though it can vary depending on the complexity of the systems, expect employers to look for at least two or three years’ experience. However, entry-level jobs are of course still a possibility for those fresh out of university or college.

In addition, system administrators will normally be required to complete some professional certification training from an IT vendor. Examples of this include the Cisco Certified Network Associate and Certified Network Professional certifications. What’s more, companies will commonly expect a sys admin to have certification matching the computer software systems they use. This means that completing certification for Microsoft servers or Red Hat Linux technologies are also frequently demanded.

And it follows that system administrators will need to be comfortable and knowledge with using (and power using) a variety of operating systems and programs, ranging from well-known Microsoft Windows to UNIX and Linux variants. When these systems break or fail, they’ll have to be debugged, which means sys admin should also have in their tool belt skillset some basic programming and coding knowledge.

Aside from these technical needs, system administrators will also be regularly dealing not only with computer systems but also the humans who use them – meaning they’ll need to be both patient and professional as they assist employees who lack the high-level of computer knowledge they have. And as they’ll usually be dealing with multiple problems at once, sys admin will also have their ability to multitask tested, along with their problem solving skills as they try to figure out the riddles that occur when computers don’t work as expected.

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