The network administration profession is growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 28 percent growth in job opportunities for network administrators by 2020, which is faster than average for all jobs in the United States.

Network administrators are also fairly comfortable financially. According to the BLS, the median income for network administrators was $69,160 per year in 2010. However, the jobs and the salaries go to administrators who can master their concepts and effectively manage large systems. If you’re interested in a job as a network administrator, you need to know your stuff.

In order to have a successful career as a network administrator, you need to master the following important concepts and tools:

1. IP Addresses and Other Identifying Numbers.

ip address identificationYou will need to keep a running log of IP addresses, which are four-digit numbers used to identify each Internet-connected computer in your office. You’ll use IP addresses when diagnosing problems, particularly conflicts in which two or more devices attempt to claim the same IP. This type of problem is almost inevitable in a large office. Network administrators often avoid it by using a technique called IP subnetting, in which groups of IP addresses are essentially banded together under one parent address.
Network administrators also need to know and understand the function of MAC addresses, which are identifiers assigned to Ethernet cards and devices. You’ll need to know default gateway addresses, which identify your local router. A huge part of a network administrator’s job is knowing and using these identifying numbers to diagnose and fix problems or to add new computers and servers to existing networks.

2. DNS Reverse Lookups.

reverse DNS lookup diagram Domain Name Server reverse lookups are also an essential part of the job. No matter how complex network tools get, administrators will always need to know how to look up DNS information and interpret it accurately. A DNS lookup can give you some of the identifiers listed above, so it’s one of your best tools.
You’ll use DNS lookups when troubleshooting problems, setting up user email, limiting incoming spam and authenticating incoming communication. A network administrator without DNS lookup is like a mechanic without a wrench.

3. Firewalls.

firewall diagramFirewalls keep intruders and malicious software from accessing a system when used correctly. Unfortunately, some network administrators do not know how to effectively manage the settings of these programs to stay protected.
Network administrators should also understand how to diagnose firewall-related errors and how to make essential changes to software settings if a firewall is preventing a company’s employees from handling their day-to-day business. Fortunately, network-level firewalls are usually fairly easy to use.

4. LAN, WAN and NAT.

Every computer network is either a Local Area Network (LAN) or a Wide Area Network (WAN). If you work at a company with a fairly large network, you will likely work with both. Remember that LAN is local.Modern networks use private IP addresses, which are translated to public IPs via network address translation (NAT). Capable network administrators fully understand all three of these concepts and can use them to organize effective large-scale networks.

5. Operating Systems.

You need different tools and knowledge to run networks on different operating systems. Network administrators may need to work with UNIX servers, for example, which have different but similar commands for setting up TCP/IP connections, FTP servers and other essentials.
Ideally, network administrators should understand the basic features and commands of Linux, UNIX, Windows and Mac OS servers. Versatile administrators will have a much easier time running complex systems that incorporate multiple operating systems.

6. The cloud is coming.

cloud computing With the growing popularity of cloud-based virtual servers from companies like Amazon and Microsoft, network administrators’ job descriptions are changing significantly. Virtual servers are just that—virtual—and businesses that use them don’t need large physical servers for their websites or payment systems.
However, this doesn’t mean that the network administrator is off the hook. If you’re serious about working in the industry, you’ll need some familiarity with cloud technology, especially if you work at a smaller business that doesn’t have a dedicated server administrator.
Network administrators need to pay attention to new trends in technology. They need to adapt regularly and come up with creative solutions to challenges on-the-job. With that being said, it’s great career for tech-minded people who enjoy building, organizing and fixing big networks. It’s also a high-paying job with a constantly changing set of responsibilities, and for the tech-minded, there are few careers as challenging and rewarding.
Are you interested in network administration? What concepts do you expect to use on a daily basis? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Network administrators need to pay attention to new trends in technology. They need to adapt regularly and come up with creative solutions to challenges on-the-job. With that being said, it’s great career for tech-minded people who enjoy building, organizing and fixing big networks. It’s also a high-paying job with a constantly changing set of responsibilities, and for the tech-minded, there are few careers as challenging and rewarding.

Are you interested in network administration? What concepts do you expect to use on a daily basis? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.