California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Network and Computer Systems Administrators in California

May also be called: Information Technology (IT) Directors; IT Managers; IT Specialists; Local Area Network (LAN) Administrators; Network Administrators; Network Engineers; Network Managers; Network Specialists; Systems Administrators; and Systems Engineers

What Would I Do?

Network and Computer Systems Administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks, which is a vital part of most organizations. They install, configure, and support an organization's local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), Internet and intranet systems, a segment of a network system, or other data communication systems.

Systems Administrators identify computer and network needs, install network hardware and software, and make needed upgrades and repairs. They maintain network and computer system security, evaluate network or system performance, and help increase system efficiency. They provide training on hardware and software use as well as solve computer issues promptly upon notification by a user or an automated monitoring system.

They ensure e-mail and data storage networks function properly and that employee workstations run efficiently and stay connected to the network. Some Administrators manage telecommunication networks at their organization.

Network and Computer Systems Administrators may assist computer network architects in designing and analyzing network models. They are involved in making decisions regarding hardware and software purchases. Some provide technical support to computer users and may supervise computer user support specialists, computer network support specialists, or computer programmers.

Tools and Technology

Systems Administrators work with a wide range of tools and technology. In addition to computers, they may use computer tool kits, cable accessories, digital testers, hard disk arrays, interferometers, network switches and analyzers, power meters, protocol analyzers, reflectometers, and server load balancers. They use a variety of software such as administration, backup or archival, configuration management, Internet directory services, network monitoring, network security or virtual private network (VPN) management, and transaction security and virus protection.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Maintain and administer computer networks and related computing environments including computer hardware, systems software, applications software, and all configurations.Computers and Electronics
Diagnose, troubleshoot, and resolve hardware, software, or other network and system problems, and replace defective components when necessary.Complex Problem Solving
Plan, coordinate, and implement network security measures to protect data, software, and hardware.Critical Thinking
Operate master consoles to monitor the performance of computer systems and networks, and to coordinate computer network access and use.Problem Sensitivity
Load computer tapes and disks, and install software and printer paper or forms.Near Vision
Design, configure, and test computer hardware, networking software and operating system software.Systems Analysis
Perform data backups and disaster recovery operations.Information Ordering
Configure, monitor, and maintain email applications or virus protection software.Inductive Reasoning
Monitor network performance to determine whether adjustments need to be made, and to determine where changes will need to be made in the future.Systems Evaluation
Confer with network users about how to solve existing system problems.Oral Expression
Research new technologies by attending seminars, reading trade articles, or taking classes, and implement or recommend the implementation of new technologies.Reading Comprehension
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Most Systems Administrators spend their working hours indoors in environmentally controlled buildings. Voice and data equipment are kept in communications rooms, which can be cold. Systems Administrators usually work 40 hours a week, but may work overtime or on call to ensure proper functioning of networks and systems. Some may travel to the customer's work site.

Systems Administrators interact regularly with network architects and information technology (IT) management as well as with the organization's non-IT staff. A considerable amount of time is spent typing on computer keyboards, which can lead to hand and wrist problems for those who do not take precautions such as ensuring they have an ergonomic workstation. Some lifting and moving of hardware is required.

Most workers in this occupation are not represented by unions. However, those who work in government or hospital settings have the option to join unions, such as the Service Employees International Union.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Systems Administrator may appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve working with ideas and that require an extensive amount of thinking. This occupation involves searching for facts and figuring out problems. Those who value job security and good working conditions should enjoy this type of job.

Employers seek candidates with excellent interpersonal, verbal, and written communications skills. Systems Administrators need to be able to work well both independently and as part of a team. They must take initiative, troubleshoot, and resolve issues in a timely manner. In addition, they should be patient, detail-oriented, and willing to continually learn new technologies.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages

The median wage in 2016 for Network and Computer Systems Administrators in California is $90,117 annually, or $43.33 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$68,468$90,117$116,028
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Systems Administrators generally receive medical and dental insurance, vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans from their employers. Some employers may also offer stock options and bonuses.

What is the Job Outlook?

As businesses and government agencies continue to invest in newer, faster technology and mobile networks, demand for Systems Administrators should remain high. Systems Administrators with an information security background will be needed to keep networks and systems safe.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Network and Computer Systems Administrators is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Network and Computer Systems Administrators are expected to increase by 20.6 percent, or 8,900 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2014-2024)
43,10052,0008,90020.65,500
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 900 new job openings per year is expected for Network and Computer Systems Administrators, plus an additional 550 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 1,450 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2014-2024)
9005501,450
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

The level of education and type of training required varies by employer. A bachelor’s degree in computer or information science, or even computer or electrical engineering with coursework in computer programming, networking, or systems design, is often required for entry into this field. Some employers will accept an associate degree in a computer-related field, along with certificates and related work experience. Some positions may require a master's degree.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in this kind of work should take classes in mathematics, computer science, information technology, engineering technology, business, and language arts. Training programs are also available through Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) in areas such as computer administrator, computer network management, computer systems management, information systems management, network administration, network administrator, and network security. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Continuing Education

A constantly changing technology makes it necessary for Systems Administrators to keep their skills current and acquire new ones. Many continuing education programs exist through employers, hardware and software vendors, colleges and universities, and private training institutions. Professional development seminars and conferences offered by computing services firms, as well as courses available online or through independent study, also enhance skills and advancement opportunities.

Certification

Professional certification is becoming the industry standard and can demonstrate competence in a particular field. There are hundreds of different certification programs available. Many are offered by product vendors or software firms. Product vendors may require Systems Administrators to be certified in the products that they use. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Computer Science, Information Systems Security, LAN/WAN Management, Network, and System Administration.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Network and Computer Systems Administrators are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Computer Systems Design and Rel Services 18.3%
Management of Companies and Enterprises 6.2%
Management & Technical Consulting Svc 4.2%
Local Government 3.3%
Colleges and Universities 3.3%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Networking is important in this occupation, since many Network and Computer Systems Administrators find work through referrals. Jobs can also be found through direct application to employers, newspaper classified advertisements, online job boards, and professional organizations. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Network and Computer Systems Administrators.

  • Computer Network Design & Systems
  • Computers-System Designers & Consultants
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Government Offices
  • Hospitals
  • Management Consultants
  • Private Schools (K-12)
  • Public Schools
  • Schools

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Systems Administrators who gain extensive work experience and regularly update their skills with training can promote to senior positions such as information technology manager.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Network and Computer Systems Administrators with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
Computer Hardware EngineersGuide
Computer Network ArchitectsGuide
Computer Network Support SpecialistsProfile
Computer ProgrammersGuide
Software Developers, ApplicationsGuide
Software Developers, Systems SoftwareGuide
Computer Systems AnalystsGuide
Computer User Support SpecialistsGuide
Database AdministratorsGuide

Other Sources

  • Advanced Computing Systems Association
         www.usenix.org
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
         www.acm.org
  • Computing Technology Industry Association
         www.comptia.org
  • Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP)
         www.iccp.org
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society
         www.ieee.org
  • League of Professional System Administrators
         www.lopsa.org
  • National Workflow Center for Emerging Technologies
         www.nwcet.org
  • Network Professional Association
         www.npa.org

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification15-1142
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Network and Computer Systems Administrators15-1142.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)IRC
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Computer and Information Sciences, General110101
   Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst 110501
   Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications 110901
   Network and System Administration/Administrator111001
   Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assura111003
   Computer and Information Sciences & Support Services, Other 119999
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Information Technology, General070100
   Computer Systems Analysis070730
   Computer Infrastructure and Support070800
   Computer Networking070810
   Computer Support070820
   Other Information Technology079900