Even as automation threatens a variety of IT infrastructure jobs, network and systems administrators continue to enjoy good job prospects over the next decade.
According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, network and systems administrator jobs will grow 6.1 percent over the next 10 years. The median salary for the position is $75,999, although those with experience and the right mix of skills can expect to earn far more. (In the nation’s biggest tech hubs, including Virginia and New York, salaries for systems administrators can easily creep past the six-figure mark.)
Automation can execute any number of tasks necessary to keep networks and IT infrastructure running, but companies know a human being is ultimately necessary to make nuanced decisions and take a holistic view of the system.
In the eyes of many employers, certifications are necessary for judging whether candidates actually possess those skills and experience. According to Burning Glass, here are the certifications cited by a fair number of job postings; as you’ll notice, security is a huge deal. Given the high-profile security breaches over the past several years, this is no surprise; executives want to know that their network and systems administrators can detect and thwart the inevitable attacks on their systems.
In addition, these are some of the most-requested skills for network and systems administrators. Employers expect candidates to be well-rounded when it comes to skills and experience; if you have this foundation, you can specialize as necessary for a particular job:
During the job interview, expect to answer lots of questions about not only your certifications and training, but about times you tackled real-world problems (interviewers love hearing candidates discuss how they overcame particularly tricky issues). You may also be tested on your aptitude with particular technologies.
Also, don’t neglect “soft skills.” Network and systems administrators must explain complicated concepts and high-stakes decisions to a variety of stakeholders, including executives and workers who might not have any technological background. As a result of that, it’s important to emphasize your communication and teamwork abilities during the interview—and then utilize those abilities during the actual job itself.
The core takeaway here is that network and systems administrators will remain valued, even if aspects of their jobs become increasingly automated. That puts the impetus on anyone interested in the profession to master all the things that software can’t do—communication, advanced problem-solving, and architecting. Once you’ve reached that point, the financial rewards will follow.