A computer network (the "network") is the connection of at least two or more computers for the purpose of sharing data and resources. These resources can include printers, Internet access, file sharing, and electronic mail ("e-mail"). In today's technological environment, most companies and businesses have some kind of network used on a daily basis. Thus, it is imperative to day-to-day operations that networks run smoothly. Companies employ at least one person to watch over this important aspect of any company's business. This person is generally called a network administrator. This position carries significant responsibilities since most companies are subject to significant operating losses should problems arise with its network.
JOB SKILLS AND RESPONSIBLITIES
Once hired, a network administrator will be expected to perform certain networking tasks usually requiring considerable work hours. Tasks generally include maintaining the network hardware and cabling, installing software updates and fixes, and performing backups of important data (Career direction, p. 28). Since network failures are inevitable, a network administrator is always "on-call." When a problem arises, the network administrator is the person who is called first regardless of time or schedule. Since a network administrator must be accessible at all times, owning a cell phone or pager is a job necessity and is usually provided to the network administrator by the company. The network is used during the normal business hours by other employees; therefore, most activities involving data backups and software and file updates are usually performed after normal business hours. Many of these types of activities take longer than expected resulting in long hours of overtime for the network administrator and other computer and information system personnel.
Depending on the nature and size of the company, the company may employ only one person or a team of individuals to monitor a network or a series of networks. Thus, most network administrators must be able to work in a team environment. Additionally since network administrators serve as a support role in a company, a network administrator must be able to communicate ideas to the other employees that may have minimal computer knowledge and experience. Additionally, network administrators must be generally knowledgeable of the company's overall business strategies and operational units so that the network adequately supports these functions.
TRAINING AND EDUCATION
A position as a network administrator is not an entry-level position. A network administrator must be fluent in computer language, knowledge of both software and hardware applications, and general business experience. Network administrators need to have at least a high school diploma with some additional secondary or vocational training. Secondary training may include, but not limited to, a computer-related college degree and specialized networking classes offering product and vendor certifications (p. 28). Network administrators usually specialize in Business or Engineering colleges in order to obtain their degree. Generally, product and vender certifications are more sought after with regards to specific job requirements. Many college graduates will further their knowledge with certification courses, so that employers will recognize their dedication to the field of networking. According to an article titled "Career Directions," there are two types of certifications: "Vendor-product" and "Vendor-neutral."(p. 28).
Almost every vendor or manufacturer offers certifications on their products to technology professionals. "Currently, the three main IT certification leaders and their programs are Microsoft's Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Novell's Certified Novell Engineer (CNE), and Cisco's Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)"...