A computer systems administrator is a position that has different duties and responsibilities depending on the computer systems being used. It is often synonymous with the title network administrator because it involves the day-to-day administrative duties of a network as a whole, including servers and network components like switches, routers and firewalls. According to ONET, the average salary for this position was $70,970 per year in 2011. However there is a high degree of variance for this position. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, the top 10 percent earned more than $108,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $42,400.
Salary Variations by Industry:
Companies involved in the information technology industry, including computer companies, tend to pay computer systems administrators the highest average salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this sector paid an average of $74,230 for this position in 2010. Computer systems administrators in the insurance and financial sector averaged $72,660 per year. The same positions in the manufacturing sector averaged $67,870, and those in the healthcare industry and social assistance averaged $64,560 per year. Educational institutions tend to pay the lowest salaries for computer systems administrators, estimated at $59,230 per year in 2010.
In a 2012 survey of IT recruiters, Dice.com reported that systems and network engineers and administrators were in the top 10 most sought-after positions in the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for these positions will continue to be strong at least until the year 2020, with a 28 percent growth rate, which is twice that of the national average for any other jobs. The healthcare sector is expected to be one of the highest growth areas as hospitals and other healthcare facilities continue to update their computer systems and networks.
Education and Advancement:
The majority of computer systems administrators have a four-year bachelor's degree. However, more or less education than this is not rare and does not generally affect salary when an administrator stays in the same position. Education can enhance one's salary when a computer systems administrator moves up to a management position. For example, most computer and information systems managers have a bachelor's degree in computer or information science in addition to computer systems administration experience. In 2011, this position earned on average $115,780 per year, according to the ONET.
Certifications and Experience:
Most major hardware and software manufacturers offer certifications for computer systems administrators. With some exceptions, certifications and experience by themselves do not necessarily improve one's salary. Certifications generally prove competence with a technology, not expertise. Having 20 years' experience with antiquated technologies does not improve one's earning potential in a modern environment. Where both certification and experience can improve one's salary is in technologies requiring specific expertise without many qualified candidates available. For example, experienced, certified Novell, Oracle or Citrix administrators can earn more than Microsoft administrators. Administrators with advanced expertise in healthcare systems may find themselves soon in higher demand than those without that expertise.