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The skills needed by a LAN administrator vary somewhat from job to job because different enterprises rely on different software and hardware systems for their local area networks (LANs). A LAN administrator will always need solid computer networking skills, including knowledge of both the hardware and software components of a network. Administrators of local area networks often need to be skilled in computer security as well. In many enterprises, LAN administrators need additional interpersonal and organizational skills in addition to their computing skills.
Selection, installation, and upkeep of network hardware are at the heart of the work done by a LAN administrator. An administrator needs to be familiar with the different hardware options available on the market and with any older systems employed by a particular firm. Individual corporations typically select a certain set of hardware components, but a broad familiarity with all networking options is helpful. A network administrator will be called on to physically install and maintain hardware and to perform all necessary operations to correctly configure and update the internal firmware and settings in network components.
A clear understanding of the fundamentals of network architecture is essential for a LAN administrator. This will certainly include familiarity with TCP/IP and may require other more specialized knowledge depending on the type of network being administered. Network administrators employed in medium and large firms will generally also need to be well-versed in techniques to optimize the efficiency of network operations.
A LAN administrator will often maintain servers for an enterprise and will need a solid working knowledge of the software systems used on these machines. Windows®-based servers tend to be more common in smaller firms. Larger enterprises are more likely to employ LINUX® or UNIX®-based servers. LAN administrators are often required to handle the backup and protection of essential data and may need skill with specialized hardware and software to do this work.
Network administrators are often called on to provide part or all of the network security for an enterprise. They may be required to maintain the antivirus software of machines attached to a network. They will also likely be part of any response to infection with malicious software or external hacking threats to a network and need to be familiar with network security procedures.
A typical LAN administrator needs a selection of less-technical skills as well. Larger firms often have dedicated help desk personnel, but smaller enterprises may rely on network administrators to provide basic technical support. Good communication skills are essential for this. Administrators will also often be asked to provide input on the costs and benefits of different types of network hardware and software, and a grounding in business practices can make this part of their work easier.
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