Network administrators are professionals who are charged with the responsibility of maintaining a computer network. The administrator will oversee the installation and updates to any software as well as install and maintain any hardware needed to operate the network. It is not unusual for a network administrator to be consulted when upgrades in hardware or software are required to create a new network or enhance an existing one.
The typical computer network administrator will possess some type of higher degree connected with Information Systems and Computer Science. In addition, the administrator is often trained on the function of specific hardware or software that is included as part of the network. This makes it possible for the network admin to quickly master any new additions to the network or even build a network from scratch.
In order to carry out his or her responsibilities, the network administrator will have master access credentials that allow the admin to interact with any function within the system. This means network admins can handle processes such as the creation of network addresses, the assignment of routing protocols, configure routing tables, and establish any type of security measures necessary to protect the network. Typically, the credentials of the network administrator override all other access privileges enjoyed by others in the organization, allowing the admin to troubleshoot when there is a need to monitor activity of a specific user or change access protocols for any reason.
Many companies choose to hire an in-house network administrator. This can be helpful when the size and function of the company require someone to be on site to handle hardware and software installations, run diagnostics, assign privileges and in general maintain the network. The administrator is also able to provide input on the purchase of new hardware or software, making recommendations for products that will enhance the productivity of employees. In some cases, the administrator may also be called upon to modify the configuration of software in order to adapt it to the specific applications needed by the company.
Smaller businesses may choose to outsource network administration functions. Today, it is not uncommon for an Information Systems professional to provide administrator services to a number of clients. While not on site, the service provider can be called upon when there is the need to alter the network in some manner, deal with performance issues, or assign new access credentials to new employees. With this type of outsourcing service, the client normally pays the network administrator a fixed monthly fee for covered services, with provisions for additional fees when specialized projects are required.