People who work in technical services and desktop support often look to advance their careers through network administrator jobs. A network administrator is someone responsible for the installation, configuration, maintenance, and support of a computer network. These networks are widely used in organizations large and small to create an efficient and cost effective way to allow multiple computers to share data and access the Internet.
There are four primary types of network administrator jobs: technical support, manager, system architect, and instructor. All four jobs require candidates to have completed formal post-secondary training from a recognized institution in network administration. These programs are available from a wide range of community colleges and private schools. Recognized network administrator programs are also offered by the software companies that provide this type of software. For example, Microsoft® and Novell® both have certification programs that provide credentials necessary to qualify for network administrator jobs.
Technical support positions are the most common starting point of all the different network administrator jobs. The primary tasks associated with this position include meeting user needs, technical support for hardware and infrastructure issues, software and hardware maintenance, and ongoing application of software patches and bug fixes. The skills required in this job are taught during the training program.
After five to eight years of working experience in technical support, candidates can apply for more senior network administrator jobs. Options may include network management or supervisory roles. People who want to advance their career to this level are well advised to complete additional formal education. An advanced degree or diploma in management or the successful completion of specialized management training may be necessary to make this career transition.
The role of system architect is one of the more senior of all the different network administrator jobs. The primary purpose of this role is to take a more holistic view of network design, infrastructure, and related support systems. The system architect is expected to have a significant level of expertise in this field, as well as the capacity to think of creative solutions to existing challenges.
The typical career path for network administrator is quite shallow. For this reason, many skilled professionals turn to teaching as a way to change career direction. Positions are available in a wide range of community and career colleges. These instructor roles are well compensated and have a reduced work week when compared to the standard work week of technical support staff.