SysAdmins: System Administrator Role, Responsibilities & Salary | Splunk (2024)

System Administrators — also known as SysAdmins — are the unsung heroes within most organizations. These colleagues play an instrumental role: they ensure that IT systems and apps are kept running smoothly and securely.

As round-the-clock system uptime is becoming the norm, SysAdmins are the ones who respond to on-call incidents at 4 a.m. fixing incidents that could lead lost revenue and negative customer experiences. Without your System Administrators, things could be a lot worse.

Responsible for not only installing, configuring, and maintaining servers, networks, and computer systems, SysAdmins are also busy managing software updates, handling security patches, and troubleshooting any technical issues that may arise. Anything that supports how your apps and systems run, a system admin is probably in charge of it.

As the backbone of IT infrastructure within an organization, SysAdmins keep the systems running efficiently, ensuring that employees have access to essential resources and data to perform their daily tasks.

Without System Administrators, most organizations would not function effectively.

What’s a SysAdmin? Roles, responsibilities & tasks

System administrators are normally tasked with the installation, maintenance, configuration and repair for servers, networks and other computer systems within an organization. That means you’re directly supports network operations, sometimes working directly inside the NOC — the network operations center.

Working tirelessly, often outside of regular working hours, SysAdmins ensure that the systems within an organization are up and available with minimal downtime, both for users and the systems themselves. Unless something goes wrong, the work of a Systems Administrators typically goes unnoticed by those around them.

System administrator roles typically include:

Server/Web administrator

Responsibilities for server administrators include the installation, configuration, and maintenance of servers within an organization. They are also responsible for ensuring servers are upgraded with the latest software and security patches to optimize performance and minimize downtime.

Additionally, server administrators monitor server performance, troubleshoot issues and respond to certain incidents, and implement proactive measures to enhance server reliability and availability.

Network administrator

Overseeing the organization's network system, network administrators play a crucial role. They ensure seamless operations. By monitoring network traffic, a SysAdmin can:

  • Identify potential bottlenecks.
  • Implement robust network security measures to protect against cyber threats.
  • Troubleshoot any network-related issues that may arise.

With attention to detail and expertise in network management, network admins contribute to the overall efficiency and stability of the organization's network infrastructure.

(Related reading: network telemetry, network configuration & network monitoring.)

Security systems administrator

Responsibilities include safeguarding the organization's digital infrastructure from potential threats and vulnerabilities, ensuring seamless operations, and providing peace of mind for all stakeholders involved. To this end, SysAdmins will:

  • Implement and manage robust firewalls and antivirus software.
  • Run regular data check-ups including creating, deleting, and maintaining user accounts within the network to ensure protection of the organization's systems and sensitive data.

Database administrators

Responsible for designing and configuring databases and data management software to suit the specific needs and requirements of your organization's data. They ensure data is stored, accessed, and processed in a secure and efficient manner.

Through their daily work within database systems and software, database administrators have significant say in data management practices — optimizing data storage, retrieval, and analysis — thus facilitating informed decision-making and enhancing overall business performance.

Technical support and troubleshooting

Providing comprehensive technical support to the employees within an organization. As a system administrator, you’re responsible for:

  • Resolving IT-related issues with efficiency and expertise.
  • Diagnosing and troubleshooting any system faults, ensuring the seamless functioning and uninterrupted productivity of the organization.

Required skills & expectations for daily work

System Administrators play a key role in managing and maintaining the technical infrastructure within an organization. As a SysAdmin, it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and trends in the field to ensure you can effectively handle any technical issues and provide the best solutions for your organization.

While programming isn't at the core of a SysAdmin's job, learning a little bit of programming and scripting to execute tasks and actions across their applications and infrastructure is beneficial.

It's recommended that system administrators have a strong combination of technical abilities as well as soft skills to excel in their role.

Technical skills include:

  • Proficiency with operating systems and networks
  • Cloud computing skills
  • Familiarity with hardware and databases
  • Security protocols
  • Basic scripting and coding

Soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Time management
  • Decision making
  • Organization
  • Leadership
  • Working well under pressure

By combining your technical expertise with these interpersonal skills, System Administrators can effectively troubleshoot issues, collaborate with team members, and ensure the smooth operation of the organization's IT systems.

Education & certifications to consider to become a System Administrator

If you're passionate about technology, have a knack for problem-solving, and enjoy working in a dynamic environment, then becoming a SysAdmin might be a career path to pursue. While a bachelor's degree is often required, staying up-to-date and continuously learning through various certifications can help you to excel in this critical role.

To become a System administrator, most employers require a bachelor's degree in a related field such as computer science, information technology, electronics engineering, or computer engineering. Hands-on experience, however, may override this requirement.

In addition to post-secondary education, aspiring system administrators might also want to pursue certification for:

  • Microsoft Certifications
  • Red Hat Certified Engineer
  • CompTIA Server+ Certification
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate
  • Windows Server Administration Fundamentals
  • Google IT Support Professional Certificate
  • Oracle Linux System Administrator
  • VMware Certified Professional 6 - Data Center Virtualization

(Learn more about cloud certifications & IT salary trends.)

Salary ranges for SysAdmins

The salary range for a System Administrator varies depending on experience, education, certifications, additional skills, as well as location.

According to PayScale.com, SysAdmins can expect to make:

SysAdmins: The silent guardians of IT infrastructure

Remember — the role of a System Administrator is crucial for any organization as they ensure the seamless operation of IT systems, enabling businesses to function efficiently.The contributions of System Administrators often go unnoticed even though they play a vital role in maintaining the organization's technical infrastructure.

As technology continues to evolve, so too will the role of the System Administrator, making it a dynamic and rewarding career path.

SysAdmins: System Administrator Role, Responsibilities & Salary | Splunk (2024)
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