What does a Network Administrator do?
I wanted to share what a network administrator’s daily job duties, functions, and tasks may entail on a daily basis. For those new out there to the realm of IT, a network administrator typically interacts with the hardware/software components that transfer data to and from devices over a physical distance through some type of medium. Some of these devices include: personal computers, laptops, tablets, servers, switches, routers, firewalls, load balancers, wireless access points, and any other devices that rely on transmitting data. The components that are typically managed daily by a network administrator are switches, routers, wireless access points, DHCP/DNS servers, IP address provisioning, documenting/diagraming the network, monitoring bandwidth usage, and maintaining copper/fiber cable plants.
The scope of what network administrators manage on a day to day basis typically depends on the IT organizational business structure. Organizations that are small or depend on a small IT work force may expect the network administrator to handle more than some of the items listed above. You may be the person who also manages/deploys servers, email systems, desktops, and a host of other things. This typically gives you a plethora of never ending projects that will keep you busy, which will hopefully make you a master of all disciplines. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing, but you may not have enough time in the day to architect the network the way you want it or in the best way it could be.
Some organizations may lump other responsibilities onto the Network Administrator. Telecom and networking is a combination I have seen before. Expect to work with telephony devices and services like VoIP, mass messaging, and voicemail services. Another combination is security and networking which would entail working on the network along with security devices/appliances and coming up with strategies on protecting data. Some networking devices have security features and functions embedded into them such as firewall/routing devices that perform IPS (Intrusion prevention system), IDS (intrusion detection system), spam filtering, and URL filtering/blocking which make networking and security devices easier to manage. I’m not promoting that organizations follow these models, but do expect to see some businesses operate in this fashion.
Larger IT organizations sometimes have the network administrator work specifically with networking devices/appliances. In this environment, you will have the opportunity to thrive by sharpening your skill set into becoming a master of networking. Mostly everything touches a network in today’s world, so always expect to be able to troubleshoot issues that can help other areas solve problems. Your mission should you choose to accept it, is to keep the network up and running efficiently. Just don’t forget to have fun and follow your passion. If you also have thoughts about obtaining certificates,check out this article by network guru Shane Killen, or check out my article on certificates. Please feel free to add other responsibilities that you may have heard that a network administrator does on a daily basis in the comments below.