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How to Become a Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Network and computer systems administrators must often have a bachelor’s degree, although some positions require an associate’s degree or professional certification along with related work experience.


A bachelor’s degree in fields related to computer or information science is most common. However, because administrators work with computer hardware and equipment, a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering usually is acceptable as well. These programs usually include classes in computer programming, networking, or systems design.

Some positions require an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate in a computer field with related work experience.

Because network technology is continually changing, administrators need to keep up with the latest developments. Many continue to take courses throughout their careers. Some businesses require that an administrator get a master’s degree.


Certification is a way to show a level of competence and may provide a jobseeker with a competitive advantage. Certification programs are generally offered by product vendors or software firms. Companies may require their network and computer systems administrators to be certified in the product they use. Some of the most common certifications are offered from Microsoft, Red Hat, and Cisco.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Administrators need analytical skills to evaluate network and system performance and determine how changes in the environment will affect it.

Communication skills. Administrators work with many other types of workers and have to be able to describe problems and their solutions to them.

Computer skills. Administrators oversee the connections of many different types of computer equipment and must ensure that they all work together properly.

Multi-tasking skills. Administrators may have to work on many problems and tasks at the same time.

Problem-solving skills. Administrators must be able to quickly resolve problems with computer networks when they occur.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition