Network Administrator Job Description
Network administrators play a vital role in businesses as they ensure the smooth operation and security of computer networks. Their role is essential in maintaining network infrastructure, resolving network issues, implementing security measures, and optimising network performance. A competent network administrator can prevent network downtime, protect sensitive data, enable efficient communication, and support critical business operations. Getting the right person for the job is crucial to ensure network stability, mitigate risks, minimise disruptions, and maximise the organisation’s overall productivity and success.
Many companies operate an it support structure that follows the first, second, and third-line support model. Whereby the first-line support handles basic inquiries and resolves common technical issues, while the second-line support deals with more complex problems requiring specialised knowledge or expertise. The third-line support, sometimes called escalation support, addresses the most challenging and intricate technical issues that the first and second-line professionals cannot resolve.
People often ask if network administrators are first, second or third-line support engineers. In truth, they can be any of these. The classification of first, second, or third-line support typically relates to the complexity and expertise required to address various technical issues, regardless of specific job titles.
In some organisations, network administrators manage and maintain network infrastructure, making them responsible for second or third-line support for network-related problems. Here they would handle more complex issues that require in-depth knowledge of network protocols, hardware, and security.
However, in other organisations, network administrators may provide first-line support by assisting end-users with basic network troubleshooting or escalating issues to specialised support teams when necessary.
In short, whether someone in this role sits within the first, second or third line might depend on the nature of the problem that needs fixing or the company they work for. Either way, the skills you look for to determine a suitable candidate will depend on the needs of your business.
Technical Skills to Look For on a Network Administrator CV
As network administrators play a vital role in building, maintaining, and securing efficient communication and data transfer within a business, the skill sets employers require can vary hugely. Below are some of the skills you might look for on your ideal candidate’s CV, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Suitable candidates for this role should be proficient in designing, implementing, and managing network infrastructure, including routers, switches, and access points. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification is a good sign of an excellent candidate but not compulsory.
Candidates should be able to troubleshoot and configure network protocols, showcasing their practical understanding and hands-on experience. Their CV might mention TCP/IP, DNS, DHCP, SNMP, and VLANs, and they may be certified in CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate).
Applicants should have experience implementing and maintaining network security measures, including firewalls, VPNs, IDS/IPS, and access control policies. Certifications to look out for include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), or they may be a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).
Diagnosing and resolving network issues is an essential requirement in this job. Candidates may demonstrate competency by using packet analysers, network monitoring software, and command-line utilities. The CompTIA Network+ certification validates fundamental knowledge of networking concepts, protocols, and troubleshooting skills.
Applicants may show their expertise in configuring and managing network devices, such as routers, switches, and wireless controllers, using technologies like Cisco IOS or Juniper Junos.
As organisations adopt cloud computing, more network administrators are becoming proficient in managing and optimising networks in cloud environments. These certifications highlight the candidate’s ability to work with Azure networking services, which are crucial for building scalable and secure cloud networks. If a candidate is Microsoft certified, their CV may mention Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Network Engineer Associate.
Familiarity with network monitoring tools enables administrators to proactively identify and address performance bottlenecks, bandwidth utilisation, and network optimisation. Monitoring network performance is an essential part of this job.
Implementing backup and recovery strategies for network devices, configurations, and critical data is crucial to this role. These skills are necessary to maintain data integrity, mitigate risks, and enable efficient recovery from network disruptions or data loss scenarios.
Understanding virtualisation technologies like VMware or Hyper-V, including virtual network configurations and management, is essential in this job. It allows administrators to create virtual networks on top of the physical infrastructure to efficiently scale the network infrastructure to accommodate changing business needs.
Even at a basic level, applicants must be able to create and maintain detailed network documentation, including network diagrams, configurations, and procedures. Such documentation is necessary to give others accurate records of their network configurations, troubleshooting steps, and changes, enabling efficient network management and troubleshooting.
Professionals in this role must be familiar with network operating systems like Windows Server, Linux, or Cisco IOS. While they may not be familiar with all of the above, applicants should understand whatever operating systems your business uses.
Soft Skills That Make Excellent Network Administrators
In addition to technical expertise, the best network administrators possess specific soft skills that contribute to their effectiveness in the role. Below are some key soft skills that make a network administrator stand out.
Strong communication skills are essential for network administrators, who must effectively communicate with colleagues, end-users, and stakeholders to understand requirements, explain technical concepts, and provide support. Clear and concise communication also helps facilitate collaboration and problem-solving.
Network administrators often encounter complex issues that require logical thinking and problem-solving abilities. To tackle such issues involves analysing problems, identifying root causes, and developing practical solutions. A proactive and analytical approach to troubleshooting is valuable in resolving network-related challenges.
The field of network administration is dynamic, with evolving technologies and emerging threats, so adapting to new technologies, protocols, and security measures is vital. Good network administrators will embrace change, be willing to learn and update their skills, and readily adapt to new situations and requirements.
Professionals in this field must pay attention to detail when configuring network devices, managing security protocols, and troubleshooting issues. Small mistakes or oversights can have significant consequences on network performance and security. The best people for the job are meticulous and thorough, which helps ensure accuracy and reliability.
Network administrators often juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities simultaneously. Effective time management skills enable them to prioritise tasks, meet deadlines, and efficiently handle network maintenance, troubleshooting, and project implementations.
This job often involves working as part of a team, collaborating with other IT professionals, departmental teams, and vendors. Collaborating, sharing knowledge, and working well with others is essential for successful network administration. Top candidates are effective at problem-solving, knowledge sharing, and maintaining a positive work environment.
Providing support to end-users with varying levels of technical knowledge is a part of everyday life in this job. Patience, empathy, and the ability to explain technical concepts to non-techies are all valuable skills for delivering excellent user support and building positive relationships.
The best network administrators are passionate about learning, staying updated with industry trends, new technologies, and best practices. They have to be to keep up with constantly evolving technology. Individuals who excel in this role actively seek professional development and self-improvement opportunities.
Is A Degree Necessary for Network Administrators?
Requiring a degree as an essential qualification may limit the talent pool available to employers. Many talented network administrators gain expertise through self-study, professional certifications, and on-the-job experience without a formal degree. By focusing solely on degrees, employers may miss out on skilled candidates with the necessary technical skills and experience to excel in the role.
Challenges Employers Face When Hiring Network Administrators
Organisations that snap up the best available talent for this vacancy can offer competitive compensation packages, provide opportunities for professional development and growth, foster a positive work environment, and consider a flexible approach to qualifications to access a wider pool of skilled candidates. Smaller companies often struggle to compete for talent in this area for the following reasons:
Finding qualified network administrators with the necessary technical skills and experience can be challenging in the competitive job market we’re in right now. Employers often have to accept candidates who only partially meet their requirements to maintain service-level agreements within their business.
Network administration is constantly evolving with new technologies, protocols, and security threats. Finding candidates who are up-to-date with the latest trends and have the skills to adapt to emerging technologies can be challenging.
Network administrators are in high demand, and job hopping is common in the industry. Employers often need help retaining skilled network administrators due to attractive job offers from competitors or other organisations.
Network administrators handle sensitive data and have access to critical network infrastructure. Employers must ensure that candidates understand network security principles and practices and can be trusted to secure confidential information.
Many organisations have complex network environments with multiple locations, various network devices, and integration with cloud services. Finding candidates with experience managing such complex networks and ensuring seamless connectivity can be challenging.
Network administrators must often work closely with other IT teams, management, and end-users. Finding candidates with strong communication and collaboration skills and the ability to translate technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders can be necessary for effective teamwork and successful network administration.
Some organisations rely on specific networking vendors or technologies, such as Cisco, Juniper, or Palo Alto Networks. Finding candidates with experience and certifications particular to those vendors may be necessary for specific roles, adding challenges to the hiring process.
How We Can Help
With two decades of specialised expertise and IT industry knowledge, we help employers devise tailored recruitment strategies to access a wider pool of skilled candidates. Below are five of the main benefits of working with us.
We specialise in sourcing and connecting with IT professionals, so when you work with us, you gain access to this extensive database of qualified candidates, including network administrators with diverse skill sets and experience levels. Our skilled resourcing team also work hard to identify passive candidates who may not be actively searching for job opportunities.
We can handle the hiring process, including candidate sourcing, screening, and initial interviews. Entrusting us with the more menial aspects of recruitment saves employers significant time and resources in identifying and shortlisting suitable candidates. Freeing up your hiring manager’s time allows them to focus on core business operations while our consultants manage the recruitment process.
Our team of experienced resourcers are skilled at assessing candidates’ technical skills, experience, and cultural fit. They have well-honed evaluation methods and tools to evaluate candidates’ qualifications and suitability for the role thoroughly. Our thorough vetting process ensures you only see a shortlist of highly qualified candidates for further consideration.
We understand the importance of maintaining confidentiality, especially when hiring for sensitive roles like network administrators. Ensuring the recruitment process is conducted with discretion protects both the employer’s and candidates’ privacy.
Salary negotiations and offer management is the trickiest stage of the recruitment cycle, and employers often lose quality candidates at this stage. Leveraging our knowledge of market rates and industry standards can result in a smoother negotiation process between employers and candidates, helping you reach mutually beneficial agreements.
The information on this page is correct at the time of publication. However, as technology evolves so rapidly, the requirements of this role may change. For tailored hiring advice unique to your circumstances, please speak to our expert team of IT, Digital and Marketing recruiters.