It’s a great time to be a network administrator! In a recent blog post, Robert Half Technology (RHT) says the starting salary for a network administrator in Canada is expected to increase by 6.7 percent this year. At the upper end of the scale, network admin salaries in Canada could begin at $88,250.
The post also says a survey of U.S. IT executives showed that network administration is the skillset most prized by high-tech bigwigs, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts network admin employment levels will increase through 2022.
None of this comes as a surprise to RHT division director Andrew Carroll. “Systems and networks are the backbone of any company,” he says. “As companies grow, their networks get larger and more complex, which raises the demand for people to support them.”
So how do you get this kind of network admin salary? According to RHT, you’ll need:
- solid technical skills with experience in various protocols, software and hardware for LAN and WAN operations,
- strong troubleshooting, analytic and diagnostics skills,
- IT certifications from Cisco, Microsoft and others, and
- good communication abilities.
That last criterion puts a fine point on an idea that is growing more established within the IT industry: no one gets ahead with tech skills alone anymore. Excellent verbal and written communications capabilities are must-haves. So, too, are multitasking and the ability to stay calm under pressure, Carroll says.
Data security concerns drive hiring
RHT isn’t the only organization touting the benefits of a network administration career. Business news outlet Kiplinger named computer network administrator among the 10 best jobs for the future. Companies are worried about the security of their data, Kiplinger says, so businesses value administrators who know how to keep information in transit safe from hackers.
Where are all these jobs? According to the Government of Canada’s Job Bank, career prospects for network administrators are good to excellent in larger urban centres such as Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto, where big businesses that need network administrators generally reside.
No fear from network automation
Reports validating network administration as a career choice also verify information expertIP garnered last summer: we canvassed the IT universe for opinions about the future of network administration, since a high-profile technology news site published an article suggesting that the latest network automation systems would render network administrators useless. The sources we tapped back then suggested that skilled admins would always be in demand, even if some of the more basic tasks eventually fall to software.
But this good news for network administrators is a Catch-22 for companies that want to retain network experts, as IT advisory firm Fox Group Consulting notes in its latest Telecom Dispatch newsletter: “If [companies] train their staff to the level required to support their increasingly complex converged environments, they generally lose them to a higher paying job, or a job with a more attractive location, within 18 months.”
All of the above indicates two major takeaways for folks in the IT industry. First, if you’re an employee with excellent network administration skills, don’t lose sight of the need to hone your people skills. Second, if you’re looking to hire a network administrator, you might have to offer a larger salary than you expected, and you might have to find creative ways to convince your hot new hire to stick around.
Reinforce the value of a network admin by downloading ‘The converged IP network: your future productivity depends on it,’ from Allstream.