Network management and administration refers to all of the activities associated with designing, building, monitoring, and maintaining computer and telecommunication networks. In a small office, one person may be responsible for performing all of these activities as an IT Specialist. However, most organizations split network management duties across a series of more specialized job roles.
There are a number of questions that arise when dealing with computer networking issues:
- What network configuration is the best fit for an organization?
- How is the current network performing?
- How will new offices be integrated into the existing network?
- Does the network have the necessary fault tolerance and fail-over systems in place?
These and many more questions are dealt with by IT specialists who support private and public sector computer networks ranging from dozens to thousands of machines and users.
What Does an IT Manager Do?
What does an information technology manager do?
An information technology manager reigns supreme over an organization's IT realm. These leaders may manage all of the technology decisions for smaller businesses, or, in larger organizations, they may head a team of IT professionals such as enterprise, server, database, and enterprise messaging administrators and technicians.
The position requires more than technological expertise -- IT managers need to understand their organization's business and be able to clearly communicate technical information to non-technical divisions or customers. The role also calls for knowledge of strategic planning, resource allocation, and human resources policies, as they may be involved in hiring and performance reviews.
Here are some of the wide-ranging management responsibilities possible in this position:
- Analysis of technology requirements to meet organizational goals
- Acquisition, installation and maintenance of technology hardware and software
- Budgeting for IT expenditures
- Evaluation of and recommendations for new technologies
Providing training programs and maintaining documentation
IT managers may also oversee other areas such as:
- Database implementation, administration and maintenance
- Design, development and maintenance of IT applications
- Network operations oversight
Information technology managers are expected to be aware of, mitigate and document IT security risks as well as formulate disaster recovery and business continuity plans.
What does an information systems manager do?
In addition to leading and directing the work of other professionals in the field, information systems (IS) managers solve strategic business problems by employing information systems and technology solutions. The responsibilities of these IT pros may include managing software development projects, overseeing system implementations, leading website design efforts, and even designing network security systems.
An Information technology manager's team likely includes software engineers, system architects, database administrators, network security administrators, business analysts, and project managers. Information technology managers also consult with business users, vendors, executive management and technical analysts to evaluate business needs within an organization and determine what IT projects may be necessary to fulfill those requirements.
This type of manager may also be called an information systems director, data processing manager, or MIS director (Management Information Systems), according to O*NET OnLine. Day-to-day tasks of Information technology managers include:
- Create and manage project plans for information systems and technology projects
- Develop roadmaps for the organization's information systems and technology objectives
- Meet with vendors to evaluate what information systems and technology tools and products should be used in the organization
- Keep executive leadership informed on status of IS projects and deliverables
- Stay current with advances in information systems and technology
An Information technology manager's job can be extremely high pressure, especially when projects have high visibility for executive level stakeholders.
What does a network system administrator do?
The network administrator is the day-to-day manager of a given network. They are responsible for monitoring the network's performance, adding and replacing new equipment or software as needed. network administrators (and the technicians that work under them) manage user accounts, user groups, and machine accounts. They manage the deployment of new software applications to network clients. network administrators ensure that the network is secured against outside threats, and that client workstations have anti-virus and malware protection installed. They troubleshoot network issues that come up, and make the necessary fixes as required. network administrators maintain email systems and Internet content filters for users.
In short, network administrators are the bench managers the networking team. They often manage large teams of network support technicians, requiring them to have people skills as well as technical skills.
What does a wireless network administrator do?
A wireless network administrator is a specialized type of network admin who has the same responsibilities as a regular net admin, but they focus on wireless networking technology and its associated issues. They are responsible for monitoring and maintaining wireless networks in a wide variety of environments, anywhere from corporate offices to outdoor municipal Wi-Fi hotspots. Wi-Fi network administrators are experts in current wireless networking standards, and stay on top of developing Wi-Fi technology in order to provide the best solutions possible.
What does a computer systems administrator do?
Computer systems administrators organize, install and support a company's computer systems, including local and wide area networks, intranets and other data systems. Duties tend to vary, but, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), often include the following tasks:
- Determining a company's networking and computer system needs
- Installing network hardware and software, upgrading whenever necessary
- Maintaining networks to ensure they are secure and operating properly
- Analyzing network and computer system data to track performance and find ways to boost speed and efficiency
- Adding users to networks and teaching them how to correctly use all hardware and software
Computer systems administrator architects, or network engineers, are closely related to computer systems administrators, but tend to design networks on a higher level to help organizations reach long-term goals. The BLS states that these professionals often see to the following duties:
- Creating a plan or layout for data communication networks
- Sharing these plans with management and explaining how implementing them will serve their organizations' best interests
- Factoring information security into network design
- Choosing all hardware necessary to create and support networks
- Researching new network technologies
According to the BLS, computer systems administrators and architects can work with both desktop and mobile devices, so it can be advantageous to be trained to work with both.
IT Management Degrees and Education
IT degree levels and formats
The road to becoming an IT manager begins with a college or university bachelor's degree (usually a Bachelor's of Science degree) in Information Technology Management. Alternatively, a bachelor's degree in business administration with a strong focus on IT may also serve the purpose. Many large organizations recruit and hire their junior managers directly from colleges and universities that offer these degree programs.
The IT management degree program continues up to the Master's level, and even goes on to a Ph.D, a strenuous climb that future CTOs may want to consider.
There is also the venerable Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, although this program should be tweaked to include a significant focus on information technology management.
Another education option is the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT or B.Sc IT) degree. With this degree, the challenge is to add a business administration component in order to better match the IT manager profile that businesses and public sector branches are looking for.
As with other industry management positions, IT manager candidates are commonly judged on the basis of both education and experience. The more senior the management position, the greater role that experience plays in the hiring process. Companies want managers who have significant real-world experience, which gives them a tendency to favor candidates who have greater experience over candidates with higher education credentials.
At the top of the scale, CTOs commonly have at least fifteen years or more of IT management experience, and have an appropriate master's degree, or even a Ph.D.
What training is needed for IT managers?
The Department of Labor reports that nearly half of IT managers have bachelor's degrees such as business management or bachelor's degrees with information technology specializations. IT manager training can also include undergraduate and postgraduate information technology management certificates and project management training.
Many businesses are beginning to require specialized graduate degrees such as the Master of Science in IT management, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some employers prefer tech-focused Master of Business Administration degrees, such as an MBA program with a concentration in technology, technology management, high tech or IT management.
As for specialized technical knowledge, certain fields are considered hotter than others. ComputerWorld's Forecast 2014, published in the fall of 2013, identified top IT skills that businesses look for: programming/application development, help desk/technical support, networking, mobile applications and device management, project management, database administration, security compliance/governance, and business intelligence/analytics.
What training is needed for information systems managers?
IS is an academic discipline bridging the business world with computer science. There are a seemingly endless number of applications for information science in the business world, from information management to payroll activities. Management information science training prepares future information science pros to manage all aspects of these systems, including databases, networks and security. They will typically learn how to manage projects, how to develop and debug systems and even master the ethical or social implications of these technologies.
According to The College Board, management information systems degrees typically require the following types of courses:
- Database design
- Emerging technologies
- Managing information systems
- Project management
- Networks and communications
- Systems analysis and design
Information technology managers typically come from a technical background in a computer-related career but have gained a leadership position by demonstrating strong business and managerial acumen. Information technology managers often start with at least a bachelor's in computer science, and many management positions require a graduate degree, such as an MBA with a technology concentration or a master of science in information systems. Here are some examples of advanced coursework in an MBA Information Systems program:
- Database management systems
- Information systems strategy
- Information technology project management
- Management of information systems
- Systems integration
What training is needed to become a network system administrator?
Most network system administrator positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Since many network system administrators begin their careers in other IT positions, the occasional candidate with only an associate degree or certain professional certificates may be able to combine sufficient skill and industry experience to bypass stated education requirements.
Most successful network system administrators earn four-year degrees in computer-related fields such as information science, computer science or management information systems. On their way to a career in system administration, students customarily take courses in computer programming, computer engineering, statistics and mathematics. Aspiring network system administrators can also learn necessary skills on the job, when working in computer support specialist or network support technician positions.
An IT professional seeking to become a network system administrator may choose from a long list of certification programs that can to help fill out their skill set and demonstrate expertise to potential employers. These credentials are offered by hardware and software vendors like Cisco and Microsoft, as well as through third-party organizations like the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, known in shorthand as (ISC)².
What training is needed to become a wireless network manager?
Recommended courses of study include four-year or graduate degrees in computer science or information systems, with coursework in network design and engineering. Leadership, management and business administration courses can be helpful as well in today's competitive job market.
Here are some of the important skills and abilities needed for this job:
- Adaptability to rapidly changing technology and business environments
- Basic programming and script writing
- Familiarity with network utilities and configuration
- Problem solving
- Technical writing for reports
- Verbal communication
Some training programs offer network and communications management degrees that cover key topics like wireless networking protocols. Graduate or certificate programs may specifically focus on wireless communications, including security issues.
What training is needed to become a computer systems administrator?
While some computer systems administrators can get by with a post-secondary certificate, the BLS reports that most computer systems administrators and architects need a bachelor's degree to enter the field. The College Board reports that computer systems administrator training programs teach students how to manage computer operations for specific types of organizations and locations.
Programs vary, but may include the following types of courses in addition to more standard general education requirements, like mathematics and English:
- Core hardware technologies
- Database management
- Desktop support
- Network security
- Information systems management
- Web languages
The BLS reports that many employers increasingly prefer to hire computer network architects with a Master's of Business Administration in a specialty like information systems. These programs typically require an additional two years of graduate-level computer systems administrator education, and include a combination of business and technical courses.
Network System Administrator Salary and Job Outlook
What is the job outlook for network administrators?
The BLS tracks data for the job category "Network and Computer Systems Administrators," including many details around the job outlook for these professionals.
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)
What is the job salary for network administrators?
The BLS job category "Network and Computer Systems Administrators" has been well monitored over recent years, and has an excellent breakdown of salary statistics for network administrators.
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)
Wireless Network Manager Salary and Job Outlook
What is the job outlook for wireless network managers?
The BLS projects the employment for network and computer systems administrators to rise much faster than average during the 2012-22 period, while jobs for computer and information systems managers should grow faster than the average for U.S. industries. The BLS describes Information technology managers as planning and coordinating the implementation of networks, but no data is broken out specifically for wireless network managers.
What is the job salary for wireless network managers?
A wireless network manager's compensation may be similar to that of a high-level network admin or a general IT manager. The BLS reports these median annual wages for related positions:
Network Administrator Certifications
Network administrators can enhance their education and job experience credentials by earning a related network management industry certification. These certifications are offered by several network equipment and software vendors, as well as vendor-neutral industry associations located in the US and around the world. Network management certifications are an excellent way for current or potential networking pros to distinguish themselves from their counterparts, and potentially earn greater opportunities and rewards during their careers.
Some of the most popular and industry-recognized network management certifications are offered by the following organizations:
- Red Hat Linux
- Certified Wireless Networking Professional
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