Introduction to Network Administration

NASA Network Integration Center (Cape Canaveral, FL, USA) - 2011
NASA Network Integration Center - 2011. Getty Images News

Schools, libraries, small businesses and large corporations all increasingly rely on computer networks to run their organizations. Network administrators are the critical skilled people responsible for keeping the technology behind these networks up to date and running smoothly. Network administration is a popular job choice for the technically inclined.

Activities of Network Administration

A successful network administrator must possess a combination of problem solving skills, interpersonal skills, and technical know-how.

Standard job duties of a business computer network administrator include:

  • Installing hardware (such as wireless access points, network printers, servers, and videoconferencing systems)
  • Provides training to the organization's employee base and handle user support calls
  • Deploying enterprise applications and upgrades
  • Monitoring network traffic for performance bottlenecks and suspicious activity (either security breaches, or inappropriate uses of the network by employees)
  • Negotiating and managing service contracts with outside vendors
  • Organization planning and managing of other admins (as a person progresses in their career)

The titles “network administrator” and “system administrator” refer to related professional job roles and are sometimes used interchangeably. Technically, a network administrator focuses on the interconnect technology while a system administrator focuses on client devices and applications that join the network.

Many industry professionals have roles that involve a combination of both systems and networking.

Network Administrator Formal Training and Certification

Some universities offer four-year degree programs in system / network administration or in Information Technology. Many employees expect their IT admins to possess a technical degree if It is not specific to network administrator.

The CompTIA Network+ certification program covers general wired and wireless networking concepts used by technicians and entry-level administrators. Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks each offer certification programs targeted at professionals who work with their respective brands of gear.

Home Network Administration

Managing a home computer network involves some of the same tasks that professional network administrators handle, albeit on a smaller scale. Home network admins can get involved in activities like:

While home networking cannot substitute for professional training and experience, it gives a taste of what network administration entails. Some find it a rewarding hobby. Expanding one’s coverage to also help friends or neighbors with their home networks increases the educational value even further.

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