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What is a system administrator? and What are their roles ?

Posted on July 22, 2001

System administrator (sysadmin)


A system administrator, or “sysadmin,” is an IT professional who supports a multiuser computing environment and makes sure that IT services and support systems are always running at their best.

Sysadmins make sure that their company’s computers, servers, and internet are always working. They “keep the lights on” so that work doesn’t get interrupted too often. This includes system maintenance and configuration, like installing and troubleshooting hardware and software and evaluating new technologies for their companies.

Still, the duties of a system administrator vary a lot from one employer to the next. In bigger companies, the title can be used for any IT administrator in charge of a specialized system, like the one that keeps servers running.

Information system administrators may be called data centre administrators, computer network administrators, virtualization administrators, server administrators, or database administrators, depending on the type of business they work for.

In smaller IT departments, the system administrator usually has a wider range of tasks to do. In some organizations, a sysadmin may need to support everything from end-user desktop computers to the organization’s local area network, wireless LAN, voice over Internet Protocol phone system, and hybrid cloud storage.

Depending on the culture of an organization, a system administrator might also be called a system operator or an application support engineer.


System administrator duties and skills


Due to the wide range of responsibilities that system administration jobs have in different places of work, job skills and salary ranges are often broad. In this field, most job postings require at least a bachelor’s degree or certification in computer science, computer engineering and other related IT fields.

In general, sysadmins must be able to work with application and file servers, desktops, routers, wide area networks, databases, information security systems, cybersecurity protocols, and storage.

Sysadmins should also know how to solve problems in different operating systems like Linux, Microsoft, and others. They should also know how to do tasks that involve scripting, automation, and programming. Skills in virtualization and cloud computing are also becoming more and more important for the job.

Most of the time, the sysadmin’s job is to set up, configure, and manage system performance, as well as the software that runs on the web servers and the computer hardware that helps it work. Because of this, a sysadmin should be comfortable installing and troubleshooting IT resources, setting up and managing user accounts, upgrading and patching software, and doing backup and recovery tasks.

But sysadmins need more skills than just being able to fix problems, manage firewalls, and give technical support. Sysadmins need both hard and soft skills, or people skills because they work with people in so many areas of IT and business. When IT services are slow or don’t work at all, a system administrator must be able to work under pressure, understand how things are going as they happen, and decide quickly on a solution that works best for everyone.


IT system administrator certifications


Most IT professionals, including computer system administrators, are expected to have at least one certification, and preferably more than one.

Depending on the technologies an enterprise uses, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, CompTIA Server+, Cisco Certified Network Associate, and Red Hat Certified System Administrator are all common certifications that are in demand. IT Information Library Foundation and Electronics Technicians Association International Network Computer Technician are two other certifications that are useful for system administrators.

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