While most businesses rely heavily on stable IT operations, they constantly need professional system administrators to manage and maintain their IT networks. Sysadmins today are superheroes who run the business, so this job is not recommended for the faint-hearted. But success will be there if you feel the shoulders to embrace this career. This blog post details the five steps to becoming a system administrator. You will learn what you need to know, what qualifications and skills you need to acquire, and how to find a job.
Step 1: Obtain A University License (Or A Bachelor’s Degree) And Acquire Technical Skills
You may sigh and tell yourself, “Higher education in computer science is outdated!”. ” But this is not the case. Most employers only accept candidates for a system administrator position if they have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related discipline, such as computer engineering or electronic engineering, and have three to five years of experience.
During the three or four years of studies that lead to the diploma, you will learn the basics, such as the different programming languages, the types, and characteristics of the different operating systems and network services, how to analyze the basics of data and systems, what is involved in designing the systems, etc. However, technology moves faster than textbooks, so becoming a system administrator requires constant self-study.
Make a habit of educating yourself about emerging trends in this field: which operating systems and applications are trending, which new approaches are effective for hardware and software troubleshooting, which security threats networks appear, and much more. Read industry publications and research, ask forum questions, chat with system and network administrators… you have tons of opportunities to dig into the subject. And believe me, it’s exciting!
Step 2: Take Additional Courses To Become A System Administrator
To increase your qualifications and improve your skills, we recommend obtaining computer science certifications either during your higher education or after graduation. These certifications are optional, but employers often consider them an additional reason to consider your application.
Therefore, relevant certifications not only allow you to master your skills in developing and managing computer systems but also increase your chances of getting a job and broaden your choices. There are many interesting options available to you. We recommend that you consider these three common certifications:
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
Microsoft certifications have three levels:
- MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) — For absolute beginners who need to learn basic technical concepts.
- MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) — For those who have basic technical knowledge and are looking for a first job.
- MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) — For experienced IT professionals who need to hone their skills to build innovative solutions on-premises and in the cloud.
After obtaining your license (or your bachelor’s degree), we advise you to take the MCSA courses, as they focus on the latest technologies for enterprise applications, cloud platforms, data management, analytics, mobility (BYOD), and productivity.
Although these courses are not designed specifically for system administrators, they will help you master the art and science of designing and building solutions using core Microsoft technologies, including Windows Server. Once the training is completed, you must pass two or three exams. To prove that you are keeping up with the latest technology and continuing to develop your skills, you must take an additional exam once a year or take additional courses.
LPIC-1 Certified Linux Administrator
To test your knowledge of Linux or to work specifically with this operating system, the best option is LPIC-1 – the first certification in a multi-level program established by the Linux Professional Institute. You will learn to work in systems administration by training in performing maintenance tasks using the command line, installing and configuring a computer running Linux, and configuring basic networking. To graduate, you will need to pass two exams. Certification is valid for five years. To recertify, you will need to pass the exams again or pass the advanced certifications before the five-year period expires.
CompTIA is a non-profit professional organization that issues vendor-neutral IT certifications. CompTIA Server+ is a complete and very intensive program. To apply for this certification, you must have between 18 and 24 months of professional experience in server hardware and software.
The training allows candidates to master seven fundamental areas: server architecture (configuration and support of server components), server administration (management and maintenance of servers), storage (management of storage devices), security (physical and network security techniques), networks (configuration of network connectivity systems), To earn this certificate, you must pass a 90-minute exam. This certificate has no validity period. There are many other IT certifications. For example, we recommend obtaining the Red Hat Certified System Administrator certificate if you want to work with Red Hat Enterprise Linux environments.
Step 3: Develop Strong People Skills
How to be a good system administrator? This requires more than technical knowledge of Windows or Linux environments and proficiency in tasks such as backups, soft skills are equally important. Since the system administrator is the first point of contact in the event of a network problem, you must be prepared to work under pressure and remain calm.
You should also have strong problem-solving and time-management skills, good judgment, and the ability to resolve issues quickly and efficiently. Good communication skills are paramount, as you will inevitably need to develop ideas, explain your project goals and expectations, and train your employees to work responsibly with IT resources.
A good sysadmin knows how to explain complex things to non-IT people. You need to be able to turn a complicated or important message into a story for more impact. Imagine that you have to explain to an employee why the choice of “Azerty” for his password is not relevant from a security point of view.
You can tell him choosing “Azerty” indicates a predictable and boring user. Who likes predictable and boring people? Person! Except for hackers, who can then easily take advantage of you. People may get on your nerves without doing it on purpose. Keep calm and watch this Lenovo video to relax.
Step 4: Find A Job
Before applying for a full-time job, we recommend gaining experience through an internship or accepting a part-time job. You can take on junior roles in the tech support department to understand how everything you’ve studied in theory works in practice. Real-world experience is the best training there is.
Once you’ve tested and honed your skills in the field, you can land an entry-level position as a system administrator or network administrator, as these roles often overlap. Employers often look for candidates with at least 3-5 years of experience, but you may be able to include your education and internships in that range. Use the contacts you have made in the field; your network is your best ally to get a job.
You can also search for positions through LinkedIn, Monster, or Indeed, targeting jobs that match your skills and salary requirements. If you are familiar with a particular operating system or have a certification in a specific area, highlight it in your resume. When deciding between big or small, think twice before rushing to a multinational.
You will probably gain more experience in a small company because small structures are often understaffed and underfunded; you will have to juggle many projects and learn to do many things simultaneously, requiring you to improve your automation skills. Choosing a large company puts you at risk of having a narrow area of responsibility and ending up with a less exciting experience.
Step 5: Constantly Update Your Knowledge
Once you get the hang of it and don’t need to google “how to become a sysadmin,” your journey won’t end. It will never be finished; you will always have to keep updated with the latest technologies, which are quickly changing. Consider joining a professional network, such as the League of Professional Systems Administrators (LOPSA), whose goal is to advance the practice of systems administration and educate professionals and the general public about administration issues systems.
LOPSA offers excellent training and networking opportunities through online events; it shares useful information in Slack and its RSS feeds and mailing lists. Spiceworks is another gold mine of knowledge for system administrators: a vast international community for anyone who cares about the future of the IT industry.
We recommend you read the articles posted there, which contain useful training content and balanced product reviews. You can also check out Microsoft Technet and Reddit, but with Reddit, you’ll have to explore a wealth of funny but irrelevant threads, so only spend a little time there at work. Let us know if these steps are useful for your systems administration career.