Network Administrator Salary: Starting, Average, and Factors to Increase It

It’s an interesting time to become a network administrator. More businesses than ever are transferring their networks to the cloud. Network administrators must oversee a complicated environment of on-premises and cloud-based tech stacks, and make decisions that ensure everything runs smoothly. As you might expect, mastering these core skills can translate into a high network administrator salary.

But how much can network administrators earn? In the past, we’ve covered the skills and certifications that can impact network administrator and sysadmin salaries; now let’s take another look at the fundamentals of network administrator compensation: how much they can earn to start, the “average” network administrator salary, and how things like education factor in.

What is a network administrator starting salary?

Network administrators with between zero and two years of experience can earn a median salary of $62,000 per year, according to Emsi Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country.

If that doesn’t sound like a lot, keep in mind that even starting salaries can swing wildly depending on factors such as education and employer. Those with a Bachelor’s degree make a median salary of $77,000 per year (and 76.7 percent of network administrators have Bachelor’s degrees). Larger companies (such as Apple and Google) generally pay network administrators much more than, say, small- to medium-size businesses that operate on much tighter budgets for talent.

What is a network administrator’s average salary?  

Emsi Burning Glass places the median network administrator salary at $74,452. Meanwhile, Dice’s latest Tech Salary Report nails the average salary of a systems administrator (a close job to network administrator) to $88,642. Glassdoor, which crowdsources its salary data, places a network administrator salary at $84,896 per year.

Of course, an average doesn’t hint at the full range of what network administrators can earn. With the right mix of skills and experience, network administrators can easily unlock six-figure salaries.

What do network administrators make in comparison to other popular tech positions?  

According to the Dice Tech Salary Report, the average technologist salary currently stands at $104,566, having risen 6.9 percent between 2020 and 2021. That’s somewhat higher than the average for network administrators, as discussed above; but salaries can always increase.

Are network administrators in demand?  

Emsi Burning Glass estimates that employers posted 111,312 open network administrator jobs in the past year, with an average time-to-fill of 40 days. That indicates a high level of demand comparable to other technology jobs such as software developer. Organizations always need people who can spin up and help maintain their networks, whether on-premises or in the cloud.

What are the most valuable skills for a network administrator?  

In addition to mastering the principles of system and network administration, many job postings ask that network administrators know Linux, various VMware tools, Microsoft Active Directory and Windows Server, and the nuances of technical support. That’s in addition to “soft skills” such as communication and empathy that every network administrator needs to wrangle various stakeholders, from developers and technologists all the way up to the C-suite.

As we’ve covered before, earning a “top” network administrator certification (such as CompTIA Security+ or Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)) can help you stand out from a big crowd of applicants for a position. While some jobs will insist on certain certifications as a perquisite for the job, others will be satisfied if you can demonstrate that you’ve mastered the position’s fundamental skills.