Most business computers communicate with one another through networks. These networked computers can be close to each other (even in the same office), linked via a Local Area Network (LAN). They can also be thousands of miles apart, linked via a Wide Area Network (WAN).
Network Administrator is a good occupation for individuals with a keen interest in computers, technical skills, and the desire to keep things running smoothly. Unlike the Network Technician who monitors network activity, performs basic troubleshooting, and reports their findings, the Network Administrator is the one person who is ultimately responsible for keeping the network running. This requires the ability to identify problems that occur with the network, to fix problems that might be frustrating users, and to help users and management with normal activities. Mission critical problems, such as not being able to reach printers, not being able to reach the Internet, and not being able to send and receive e-mail normally, are often fixed by the Network Administrator.
Not surprisingly, network security is increasing in importance. Obtaining certification in this area, e.g., by passing the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam, can not only set one apart from the competition in getting a job, it can also have a positive impact on one's salary.
New technologies, such as wireless, Virtual Private Networks, broadband, and fiber are beginning to appear and will be more prevalent in the coming years. Biometrics will also start to emerge which provide network security via fingerprint or retinal scans.
While the recent economic downturn has had a moderate negative impact on job availability for Network Administrators, jobs do still exist, though they might be at a lower level than a year ago. When the economy rebounds there should be even more of these jobs available than before the downturn. The Bay Area is one of the best places in the U.S. to receive network training.
The use of computers and computer networks is expected to continue to increase well into the next century, providing plenty of jobs for the people who keep the networks running. Most medium and large companies have Network Administrators in their Information Systems (IS) or Information Technology (IT) departments.