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Systems Administrator

What is a Systems Administrator? You Must Read This Comprehensive Guide

Jul 15, 202317 mins leggereAmit Masih
What is a Systems Administrator? You Must Read This Comprehensive Guide

Let’s admit that systems administrators are one of the key players in an organization that handles regular operations.

Simply put, these professionals work with technology and people and ensure that everything is under control and all the systems in the company are working properly. 

If you are really interested in learning more about system administrators, read this blog post carefully. In this post, we are going to share everything about this role, such as roles and responsibilities, salary, how to become, and best certifications. 

What is a Systems Administrator?

A system administrator is a person who manages and maintains the computer systems, servers, and networks that their clients use. They need to understand the specific needs of their clients and design or recommend suitable computer systems for them.

Some tasks they perform include installing and updating systems for various organizations, managing and enhancing data cloud infrastructure, and ensuring the availability and reliability of IT services.

System administrators (sysadmins) are also responsible for supporting multiuser computing environments and troubleshooting problems. They may have to deal with network issues, security threats, and intrusion prevention. They also test computer systems and internet servers to determine how they can be improved. In short, a system administrator ensures IT systems' optimal performance and security.

How do systems administrators work?

Being a systems administrator means being ready for anything. You never know when something might go wrong with the technology, and you have to fix it quickly and effectively. You are always on duty, even when others are relaxing or celebrating. You are committed to ensuring the IT infrastructure works well and supports the organization’s goals.

Being a systems administrator also means being curious and adaptable. You always learn and try new technologies while understanding the needs of different people and groups in the organization. Your skills in keeping the system secure and stable are vital for successful operations, making your role challenging and rewarding.

As a successful systems administrator, you can enjoy the following perks:

  • You will have a high job security within your organization.
  • There is a high demand for systems administrators across the globe.
  • You can expect a good salary hike and other benefits despite the competition.
  • Your job will be to learn new skills with each new challenge.

Roles and responsibilities

A SysAdmin plays a key role when it comes to managing an organization’s IT infrastructure. They have five main responsibilities that keep everything running smoothly and securely:

  • They set up and maintain the company’s hardware, software, and operating systems. They ensure that all the servers are working properly and have the latest software updates and patches.
  • They control who can access what systems and data. They create and manage user accounts, passwords, and roles. They also enforce the company’s security policies and standards.
  • They back up and restore the company’s data regularly. They know how important it is to protect the company’s data from potential threats or disasters. They perform daily backups and have a plan to restore the data in case of an emergency.
  • They monitor and alert the company’s network performance and health. They use various tools to monitor the network metrics, such as CPU usage, DNS resolution, latency, etc. They also set up alerts to notify them of any issues or incidents.
  • They solve problems and troubleshoot issues. This is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of being a SysAdmin. They have to deal with a variety of problems and find solutions that are secure and efficient. They also learn new things every day as they encounter new situations.

What is the average salary of a systems administrator?

 Your salary depends on where you live, what you do, and how much experience you have. For example, a system administrator with five years of industry experience will earn more than someone without experience. According to Indeed, the average salary for a system administrator position is $76,729 per year.

How to become a systems administrator?

If you are interested in IT operations, consider becoming a SysAdmin or systems administrator. This role will challenge you to learn new skills and technologies as you solve problems and troubleshoot issues. You will also collaborate with developers and other teams in a DevOps environment and take on tasks beyond your core responsibilities.

To become a SysAdmin, you should keep in mind the following:

You should be able to set up and manage a web server. As a SysAdmin, you will deal with different servers daily. You should know how to install, configure, and maintain them and ensure they are secure and reliable.

You should understand DHCP: DHCP (or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) assigns IP addresses to different devices on a network. You will be responsible for configuring and maintaining DHCP as a SysAdmin, so you should know how different networks communicate and how to troubleshoot any issues.

You should learn the key DevOps tools, such as Puppet, Jenkins, and Ansible. These tools will help you automate and streamline your work as a SysAdmin. They will allow you to manage your infrastructure's configuration, deployment, testing, and monitoring.

You should hone your problem-solving and troubleshooting skills. As a SysAdmin, you will often face issues affecting the company’s infrastructure. Sometimes, there may not be a clear or easy solution to these problems.

Your job will be to find a way to fix them and prevent them from happening again. You will gain much experience and knowledge on the job as things break (and they will break), which is great for learning new skills.

A system administrator needs to have both soft and technical skills to manage and maintain the IT systems of their clients. Some of the skills that you can work on to become a system administrator are-

Technical Skills

As a system administrator, you should have a good knowledge of programming, hardware, network, testing, and software development. You may learn some of these skills during your bachelor’s degree, but you can also take certification courses to gain more expertise.

Communication Skills

As a system administrator, you must communicate with different people, such as technicians, managers, executives, clients, and your team members. You should explain complex ideas simply so others can understand. Therefore, you should improve your communication skills- both written and verbal- to collaborate effectively and efficiently.

Organizational Skills

You may have to juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities simultaneously as a system administrator. You should be able to systematically organize your tools, resources, communication, and files. You may also have to deal with urgent deadlines and prioritize your work accordingly. Having strong organizational skills will help you meet your deadlines without any trouble.

Attention to Detail

You may have to analyze large amounts of data and find patterns and insights to help you solve problems and make decisions as a system administrator. You should be able to spot errors and inconsistencies in the data and correct them. Having attention to detail will help you avoid mistakes and ensure accuracy.

What are the best certifications for systems administrators?

Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA)

The Red Hat Certified System Administrator certification needs no introduction. This RHCSA certification exam is designed for systems administrators working with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The RHCSA certification shows you have the skills and knowledge to effectively use Linux systems and firewalls. 

To earn the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) certification, candidates must pass an exam of three hours. The RHCSA has no specific prerequisites. However, Red Hat recommends several training courses for candidates depending on the operating systems they use:    Windows system administrators: Red Hat advises these candidates to complete the Running Containers with Red Hat Technical Overview (RH065), Red Hat System Administration I (RH124), and Red Hat System Administration II (RH134). Linux or UNIX system administrators: Red Hat advises these candidates to complete the RHCSA Rapid Track course with an exam (RH200).

Some of the skills you are required to have to earn the RHCSA certification:

  • How to use tools to work with files, folders, commands, and documents.
  • How to write simple scripts using the shell and manage users, groups, and containers.
  • How to set up local storage using partitions and logical volumes.
  • How to create and manage file systems with different attributes, such as permissions and encryption.

Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)

The Red Hat Certified Engineer certification is ideal for senior system administrators working with Linux or UNIX systems. The RHCE certification demonstrates that the candidate has advanced skills and knowledge in Red Hat system administration and DevOps.

DevOps is a working method involving automation, collaboration, and continuous improvement. The RHCE certification, in fact, expects you to know how to automate the setup, management, and support of multiple systems. 

To earn the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) certification exam, you must pass an exam that will last four hours. The exam will cost you $400. As a prerequisite, earning the RHCSA certification is required.

Candidates may also need to have professional experience as a system administrator on Red Hat Enterprise Linux or have completed the following courses: Red Hat System Administration I (RH124) and Red Hat System Administration II (RH134) or the RHCSA Rapid Track Course (RH199) Red Hat System Administration III: Linux Automation with Ansible (RH294).

In this certification, you will be tested on the following skills:

  • How to manage and configure system logging 
  • How to use the iSCSI protocol to connect to storage devices 
  • How to set up and secure network services, such as web, file, email, remote access and file transfer 
  • How to write shell scripts to automate common tasks 
  • How to use Ansible Automation to work with Red Hat technologies

CompTIA Server+

The CompTIA Server+ certification is one of the market's sought-after and well-paid systems administrator certifications. If you are a system administrator with hands-on experience working with servers, you must earn the CompTIA Server+ certification.

The CompTIA Server+ certification is a vendor-neutral certification that demonstrates that the candidate has the required skills and knowledge to install, manage, and troubleshoot servers. The CompTIA Server+ exam covers topics related to hardware and software in both on-site and hybrid server environments, such as scripting and cloud computing. 

To earn the CompTIA Server+ certification, you will need to pass an exam that consists of multiple-choice questions and has a length of 90 minutes. CompTIA, at the same time, recommends that candidates should have the A+ certification and 18-24 months of hands-on experience working in server environments. 

For this certification, candidates need to have the following skills:

  • How to set up and maintain server hardware and storage devices 
  • How to manage and maintain servers, including how to configure operating systems and virtual machines 
  • How to apply security practices to protect physical and network data 
  • How to understand backup and recovery methods How to troubleshoot problems with system hardware, software, connectivity, storage, and security

CompTIA Security+

Again, from the house of CompTIA, Security+ certification is also considered a great start as a systems administrator. System administrators who want to improve their cybersecurity skills can earn the CompTIA Security+ certification.

The CompTIA Security+ certification demonstrates your knowledge and skills in protecting systems and data from cyberattacks and vulnerable threats. The Security+ certification also tests your ability to install and configure secure systems, analyze and respond to threats, and implement risk management and compliance practices. 

To earn the CompTIA Security+ certification, candidates must attempt an exam consisting of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions. The duration for the CompTIA Security+ exam is 90 minutes. When it comes to prerequisites, candidates must have earned the Network+ certification and have two years of IT experience with a security focus. 

The CompTIA Security+ certification tests the following skills:

  • How to assess risks and their impact on systems and data 
  • How to identify and prevent vulnerabilities, threats, and attacks 
  • How to use encryption and PKI to secure data and communications 
  • How to follow risk management and compliance standards, such as PCI-DSS, SOX, HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, and NIST

ServiceNow Certified System Administrator

The ServiceNow Certified System Administrator is one of the best systems administrator certifications available right now. If you are already working as a system administrator in an organization with ServiceNow systems, there is no need to convince you that the ServiceNow Certified System Administrator is necessary. 

This certification shows that you have the skills and knowledge to use and manage ServiceNow systems. As you know, ServiceNow is a cloud-based platform that several businesses across the globe use to automate IT business management tasks.

These businesses need certified ServiceNow administrators who can create and maintain applications for this platform and help users with their issues. So, earning the ServiceNow Certified System Administrator certification is a win-win situation.

To earn the ServiceNow Certified System Administrator certification, you must complete the ServiceNow Fundamentals training course, offered in a three-day format or an on-demand option.

Also, as a prerequisite, ServiceNow recommends that candidates have at least six months of practical experience using ServiceNow. This certification exam consists of multiple-choice questions and has a duration of 90 minutes.

The ServiceNow Certified System Administrator certification tests these skills:

  • How to use database structures and user interfaces in ServiceNow 
  • How to understand and use the features and functions of ServiceNow applications 
  • How to develop and script applications in ServiceNow 
  • How to set up and configure ServiceNow systems

Linux Professional Institute LPIC-1 Linux Administrator

The Linux Professional Institute LPIC-1 Linux Administrator certification is a good choice in many cases. Systems administrators working with Linux systems can earn this excellent certification program. The LPIC-1 certification shows that you have the skills and knowledge to install, configure, and maintain Linux systems.

The LPIC-1 certification has no prerequisites. To earn the LPIC-1 certification, candidates must pass the 101 and 102 exams, which are 90 minutes with 60 multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions. LPI certifications follow a hierarchical structure of certification.

For instance, the LPIC-1 is a prerequisite for the LPIC-2 Linux Engineer exam, and the LPIC-2 is a prerequisite for the LPIC-3 Mixed Environments, Security and Virtualization, and High Availability exams.

The LPIC-1 certification tests the following skills: 

  • How to perform basic maintenance tasks, such as backup and restore reboot and shutdown 
  • How to use Linux, UNIX, and GNU commands to work with the system 
  • How to manage files and access permissions on Linux 
  • How to understand the Linux system architecture and components 
  • How to set up and secure network connections on Linux 

### Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is an entry-level IT professional certification, another popular and widely accepted credential. The CCNA certification demonstrates a candidate’s knowledge and skills of basic networking concepts and practices. 

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification has no formal prerequisites. However, candidates must have at least a year of experience in implementing and managing Cisco solutions. To take the Cisco CCNA exam, candidates must go through a hard exam that is 120 minutes long.

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification tests your skills in the following areas:

  • How to install, configure, and manage network devices, such as routers, switches, firewalls, and WAPs 
  • How to use different routing protocols and IP services to connect networks 
  • How to understand and apply network security principles 
  • How to use automation and programmability to simplify network tasks 
  • How to monitor and troubleshoot network performance

Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

The Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate certification is an ideal option for IT professionals who work with Microsoft Azure and want to excel in their skills and knowledge. Azure is a cloud computing platform that offers a number of services to help businesses with their activities and management.

The Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate certification demonstrates your skills and knowledge of using and managing Microsoft Azure environments for businesses.  

To earn this certification, candidates must pass the AZ-104 exam, which has a duration of 180 minutes. Before taking the exam, you should have at least six months of experience administering Azure and using related products. 

The Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate (AZ-104) certification exam, for example, tests your skills in the following areas:  

  • How to manage Azure identities and governance, such as users, roles, and policies 
  • How to set up and manage storage systems on Azure, such as disks, blobs, and files 
  • How to deploy and use Azure resources and tools, such as virtual machines, containers, and web apps 
  • How to configure and manage virtual networks on Azure, such as subnets, load balancers, and VPNs 
  • How to implement backup and recovery processes on Azure, such as snapshots, restore points, and geo-redundancy

VMware Certified Professional - Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV)

The VMware Certified Professional - Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV) certification also tops the best systems administrator certifications list. The VMware Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV) certification demonstrates IT professionals’ ability to work with vSphere infrastructure. 

This certification shows that you have the skills and knowledge to use and manage vSphere, a cloud computing platform that lets you create and run virtual machines. Virtual machines, to help you better understand, are digital versions of computer hardware that can run different operating systems at the same time.

To obtain the VMware Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV) certification, candidates must fulfill different requirements depending on their current VCP status. VMWare advises candidates to acquire proficiency in the vSphere7.x server virtualization product. Candidates who do not possess any VCP certifications must complete one of the approved training courses on vSphere.

After meeting the prerequisites or recommendations of VMWare, candidates can register for the exam, which lasts 130 minutes.

The VMware Certified Professional - Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV) certification tests your skills, which are:

  • How to install, manage, and troubleshoot vSphere 
  • How to understand vSphere architecture and technologies 
  • How to use VMware products and solutions 
  • How to monitor performance and perform upgrades on vSphere 
  • How to create and manage virtual machines on vSphere

How can system administration certifications help your career?

If you are interested in pursuing a career in system administration, you might wonder how certifications can benefit you. Certifications are valuable credentials that demonstrate your IT skills and knowledge to potential employers. 

For instance, some employers may look for candidates with specific certifications related to their operating systems. Certifications can also prove that you have current skills that meet the industry standards, which can boost your reputation as a candidate. 

Some of the advantages of having certifications are:

You will have a competitive advantage: Candidates who have earned relevant certifications can set themselves apart from other applicants. For example, having certifications can show that you have more advanced skills and are dedicated to learning and growing your IT skill set and knowledge.

You will have high earning potential: Certifications can help you earn more money because they show you have advanced IT skills and knowledge. As you acquire more skills or renew your certifications, you may find opportunities to advance your career or get promotions or raises at work.

You will enhance your knowledge base: For candidates with less work experience or formal education, certifications can help showcase their skills and knowledge. A certification often means that the individual has taken courses and passed exams related to specific system administration skills. This shows they can handle the job’s tasks even if their work and academic background don’t fully match.

Is systems administrator the right career path for you?

Becoming a SysAdmin is a great way to start your career if you want to work in IT operations. SysAdmins are very important and well-paid in the tech industry.

As a SysAdmin, you’ll never get bored as you will always learn new things and solve different problems. You’ll also collaborate with other teams in a DevOps culture and expand your horizons in various domains.

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