Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Systems administrators and network administrators are both important roles within the IT department. While some smaller organizations combine the responsibilities of both positions into one role, large computing systems often require specialized support for each type of IT administration.

Despite their similarities, system administrators and network administrators have distinct roles with many differences. System administrators and network administrators have different general objectives, with network administrators accomplishing tasks related to network maintenance and system administrators focusing on operating systems, servers, and software platforms. Network administrators work with concepts related to network device scripting, routing, IP addresses, network proxies, and access points. System administrators specialize in knowledge about system capacities, data virtualization, inventory, and analytics.

People in both occupations need skills in networking, problem-solving, strategic thinking, hardware installation and device management.

A systems administrator is in charge of overseeing the functionality of computer systems. They focus on ensuring that all software and hardware components work properly to accomplish system objectives. Systems administrators deal with issues related to physical computer servers, other hardware and software infrastructure. They provide assistance for users that need to access IT databases and other system functions.

They install computer servers, update computer drivers and software systems, diagnose server issues, respond to tickets from users and backup data. They also determine recovery procedures, set up user accounts and document system changes.

Network administrators are IT professionals responsible for maintaining network connectivity. They focus on setting up network equipment and ensuring that their network infrastructure can support user activities. Network administrators monitor overall activity and demands on the network to identify vulnerabilities or strange activity. They're in charge of ensuring that IT systems don't lose connectivity and determining the cause of connection issues.

They research and select network hardware, install networking equipment, configure network-enabled devices and monitor network activity. They also troubleshoot network connectivity problems, set up firewalls and respond to outage reports.

System administrators and network administrators have similar education requirements. Employers typically expect a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, software engineering or a related field.

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