Leadership

Grade your job: Network administrator

Are you a network administrator? If so, you can help us out with our poll.

For the benefit of those just entering IT or for those who are looking at a change in IT specialty, I'm going to gather some feedback in this blog. Each week, I'll feature a particular IT specialty and ask those of you who practice that specialty to help us score it.

This week we'd like your opinion about network administration. If you're a network administrator or have ever been one, could you take a moment to answer the polls below? Try to comment more on your feelings about the job itself and not the company you're currently working for or with. After we've covered a group of IT jobs, we'll compile them into a download that will give a snapshot view of what's available in IT.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

11 comments
Gisabun
Gisabun

How do you find your boss? A - Easy to work with B - Can be a pain but workable C - Seen better but seen worse D - Wasn't for needing the job, I would be out of here E - Got a gun?

dmunoz
dmunoz

It all depends on whether there was a good understanding, designing, planning and implementation that followed the industry best practices. My experience tells me that if you work in an environment where these practices were not followed, issues will arise and you'll be in constant stress. Priority one should always be to set a standard for the IT infrastructure in order to avoid minor and major inconvenients along the way. Gartner says that 40% of the systems downtime is due to human error, and we can greatly reduce this amount by enforcing policies and procedures for network administration. Of course, there's always the chance that the problem will be due to your service provider, but implementing a redundancy strategy within the IT Infrastructure for mission critical systems will ensure data availability, which is one of the main reasons why we get hired. One of the biggest satisfactions of working in this field is the fact that there's always room for constant innovation and learning. So yes, I love my job. Specially when it comes to putting in place a new change or project and seeing it perform the way it was designed. Salary is usually proportional to the complexity of the job you perform. Thus, cheaper salaries are generally found in smaller companies and better salaries in bigger ones. Keep up to date and earn new certifications. This will drive your IT career to new levels where you'll find both professional and personal satisfaction. Best,

amartinez
amartinez

Well there is always stress, the difference is the level of it. Normal @ idle time spends most of the time on new projects or regular maintenance. Which doesnt sound too much stress but you are against the clock to finish the project which on most cases is a fairly short one. Then keep with regular maintenance then add co-workers coming in for help to solve a problem (IT Dept), then something on production environment is failing... Now you stress level is high. LOL.... Not saying there is a network outage. Now you have the IT Director, Manager and some other guys looking for you. And Im not the only one Network/System Admin here. Now that puts Stress @ MAX, basically they are in your office waiting to the magic to happen, cuz while the network is down the company is losing money and the Execs will not be happy. But, if you like what you do then all becomes manageable. Unless you dont have the right skillz. Now all becomes hell. I have being doing this for over 14 Yrs and love what I do. Always there is something new, constantly the network environment changes getting more complex and looking for unconventional solutions to unconventional problems is challenging. Like the way I like it. :)

AV .
AV .

There is no doubt that a Network Administrator job has a lot of stress at times, but its all about how you deal with stress. If you can keep cool and get the job done when everyone is upset that the network is down, this is a good job for you. Not only do you have to bring the network back up, you need to have the ability to deal with people with their individual problems and your management at the same time. It isn't an easy job, but it can be a very satisfying job. I've been a Network Administrator for 25 years and I have to say that I have never been bored. This is an exciting career because there are so many aspects to it. You really get to be involved in every aspect of IT and business and thats what I always loved about it. I once worked in Corporate America in IT in a pharmaceutical environment and I was truly amazed at all the technology they had. If you're starting out and can get into IT in any large company, it will really pave the way for any job you ever have in IT in the future. It did for me. I now work as a Network Administrator for a mid-sized law firm. I work with one other person supporting 140 users. Its a tough job, but an interesting one. AV

Crash2100
Crash2100

The job can be quite manageable if you do your job; setting things up right, and planning for nearly every disaster possible. One downside to the job is that you get treated a lot like the power or cable company. The clueless people with a computer don't give your working operations much thought or care, and the second anything they use doesn't work right, it's always your fault (even though the problem usually had absolutely nothing to do with you), and the happening gets engraved into their clueless mind for all eternity.

pat_rickd
pat_rickd

The job can be rewarding and the stress level is very managable. But, it very much depends on the type of industry your work in and the people you work with. I work in a call center environment where keeping the phone system, email, database, and file servers up is critical. That's the nature of the job but it's managable. In my experience, the people you work for and with contribute the most to your stress level.

Willie510
Willie510

In the IT Community, you're going to come across stress across the board. Nobody cares for the Administrators (Network or Systems) until the network goes down ... LOL ... I've been an Network/System Administrator for over 10 years now. Some environments I've been in where way more stressful then others, but I love my job, and I love the field. Mainly because it's constantly growing and evolving. Needless to say, you have to have a high tolerance level in this field. You may not use it all the time, but it's essential to have in the toolkit just like Net Tools

ksec2960
ksec2960

I agree that the stress level is going to greatly on the individual environment. My first IT job was working for a Medical Facility that had several locations throughout S. California. The job itself was more stressful because what may be considered minor to moderate issues in a normal environment where major issues because we are not talking just about some time lost but issues of patient safety. Couple this with some management people that are high strung and you get a very stressful job everyday 24/7. On the other hand I now work for a different company in a different field that unless it is a system that effects actual production and it gets taken care of in a timely manner everybody's happy. I also think the stress of a job is directly linked to how much you like what you do. If you don't like your day to day job then how are you going to deal with the situation when it get more intense. Even when I worked at my previous position and hated where and who I worked for I still enjoyed what I was doing and this made it at least tolerable.

bpate
bpate

Hi, I just have to say how much I enjoy your content Toni. I always find it relevant and well grounded with solid unbiased opinions. I have been a Network Administrator for 15 years and I have to admit sometimes I love my job and sometimes I want to pull my hair out. The amount of stress you are going to have depends a great deal on the environment you work in. I have worked in Corporate IT shops before and I found the workload and stress to be unmanageable. I switched to being a Network Administrator for a K-12 Organization and while the pay is considerably less there is also much less stress. Every person's tolerance level is different and it took me a few years to realize I was exceeding mine. Now I have a stable job doing something I truly enjoy. I work with some great people and I am much better at managing my stress levels. Good Luck to anyone who wants to start out a career in this field or switch to this field. I don't regret switching to this field back in my early 20's. Thanks, Bill

Head_IT_Man
Head_IT_Man

In fact, I was having this conversation yesterday with one of our customers, and our 2 directors. I am the IT Manager/Network Admin/ERP Admin for a spare parts company and, realistically, it should be relatively low-stress - when something breaks, noone is going to die. However, IT Admin is a lot like getting your car serviced (ie, this is where my customer came in). He was saying, and this is the segue, that getting your car serviced means you have to deal with a lot of unhappy people - you generally only see people when their car is broken, or they are about to have it serviced, meaning it's going to cost them money. IT Admin and Support is very similar - the majority of people we deal with are unhappy, because something is broken.... whether it's their fault or our fault, they're unhappy mostly. That's the stressful part - when people are unhappy, they get stressed and lump it onto you (ie, "it's YOUR fault my computer is not working!!"). There aren't a lot of days where someone walks into your office and says "you know what, I'm here to see you because I'm HAPPY with how you're running my network"....

Crash2100
Crash2100

Yeah, you know you were meant to be the Network Administrator when you can look at the network equipment's up-time statistics and see it as almost art work when it has been up and running continuously for years.

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