If you work, chances are you’ve come into contact with your companies network administrator or engineers, or multiples if you work for a large organization.
Perhaps they helped you get setup on your first day on the job, or came to fix a computer issue once in a while.
But when you aren’t in contact with the IT staff at your organization, what exactly are they doing?
Perhaps you see them sitting on their computers with head phones on, rarely looking away from their screen and you may wonder, so what exactly does a network administrator do?
Just because they don’t seem to be running in and out of conference calls or meetings as much as you, doesn’t mean their role isn’t important.
In fact, we would like to go as far as saying that Network Admins and Engineers have one of the most important roles in an organization.
In this article we are going to define what network administrators and engineers do, what are their responsibilities, and what makes this IT position so important and highly sought-after by organizations worldwide.
Here’s Why Network Admins and Engineers are the Most Important Roles in a Business:
A network administrator is responsible for keeping a company’s computer network up and running with minimal interruptions.
Furthermore, not only do all of the computer networks need to be up and running, but the admin needs to make sure all the systems connect and work together.
There are different levels of IT roles from network administrators, system administrators, and system engineers and each role is based on experience, specialties, and education or specialized certifications.
Although they do vary depending on the role and years of experience, there are still main duties that the network staff perform.
Several main duties of network administrators and engineers include:
- Configure network hardware such as servers, routers, and switches.
- Upgrade, repair, and maintain computer networks.
- Troubleshoot various network issues.
- Assist network architects with the design of network models whenever needed.
- Deploy and update company-wide software.
- Manage servers and operating systems.
- Implement security measures.
- Manage physical and cloud network storage.
Larger organizations need more complex systems so this is not an exhaustive list, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
As mentioned above, the duties of a network administrator will vary considerably depending on the organization they work for.
Some work as jack-of-all-trades generalists who cover everything from hardware setup to troubleshooting servers while others have a much narrower focus.
In environments where administrators play more specialized roles, network administrators tend to focus more on how computers interact with one another.
This often includes configuring an organization’s local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN) and other elements of a network system.
Systems administrators, on the other hand, work more directly with computer hardware and software, including installation, maintenance, data recovery and training on best practices.
Engineers go even further and are specialized and certified in complex systems and in cybersecurity, penetration testing, and more.
Skills and Education
Many Network Administrators and Engineers have a Bachelor Degree in Network Administration or similar study although this is not always a requirement.
In fact, many organizations look for experience over education because experienced Network Admins and Engineers have real-world experience on physical networks.
Some of the top technical skills that organizations look for include:
- System administration
- Microsoft Active Directory
- Technical support
- Windows Server
- Hardware and software installation
- Customer service
Other skills that a top Network Admin or Engineer has include:
- Analyzing Data and critical thinking – Network Admins and Engineers monitor systems all day long and receive data from those systems. They need to analyze data and look for trends, occurrences, and even think about ways to prevent incidents from arising.
- Problem Solving Skills – problems arise all day in the network administration world from a printer not working to larger issues like Exchange E-mail being down or a server being unresponsive. Network engineers and admins need to be able to problem solve on the fly daily to keep systems up and running smoothly.
- Self Learner and Starter – Often times network admins and engineers need to work alone or within their team. They need to be self starters and continuously learn and keep up with the ever changing world of technology.
- Time Management
- Interpersonal Skills
- Adapt quickly to change – technology is changing every day and they need to be able to change and grow with it to stay relevant and up to date.
- Organizational skills
- Proactive vs. Reactive – Systems go down and emergencies do happen, but a good network admin or engineer will be proactive and work to prevent incidents before they occur.
- Curiosity and Love or Learning and Growth
As you can see, the network admin and engineer job description is pretty broad and big.
They have a lot of duties and responsibilities which means there is rarely a “typical day” for them.
On a day to day basis network admins and engineers will check logs, audit processes and data, put out fires that arise from end users and clients, and they work on various projects.
Projects could include automating routine daily processes or researching technology and brainstorming creative solutions for the organization’s network needs.
It could also be inventory of laptops, cell phones or other equipment or updates to server and other software and hardware.
Network Admins and Engineers typically work normal business hours but are usually on-call in case after-hours support or emergencies occur.
As you can see, Network administrators and Engineers play an essential role in not only any organization’s IT department but in the organization as a whole.
They keep the technology connecting our devices running securely with minimal down time.
Imagine if your company didn’t hire a network admin or engineer?
Who would setup the computers, make sure phones are working, e-mail is up and running and access to documents, files, internet, and essentially everything needed to efficiently do our work?
They keep our exchange servers, accounting software, and EPR systems running seamlessly and are there to help us with our own technological struggles.
To say that they have perhaps one of the most important roles in an organization seems pretty viable now.