what is a network administrator?

Virtually every organization needs an online network to process sales, host websites, interact with customers, record data and utilize business software. If the network goes down, they could suffer from a data breach or lose tens of thousands of dollars in sales. Network administrators create and maintain systems that keep businesses running 24/7.

If a new company reaches out, you'll set up a new system with firewalls, anti-virus software and other protective measures. Existing businesses hire you to upgrade their technology, patch security holes and analyze their system's performance. You'll think ahead so that operations protect their data from the beginning instead of scrambling after a breach.

Network administrators install and maintain local area networks, wide area networks and other equipment. Your hardware and software expertise enables you to maintain the entire system. You'll also train new employees so that they can maintain the system when you're not around. However, you're still the first person that your company calls when they need your expertise.

While you'll focus on network administration, you'll supplement your knowledge with skills in programming, web development and cloud technology, making you even more valuable in the workplace.

network administrator jobs

average network administrator salary

According to our salary guide, network administrator salaries in Canada vary widely depending on many factors, including the company you work for, your experience and the type of network you manage. The average salary for a network administrator in Canada is around $75,000 a year, or just over $35 an hour. Starting salaries are around $55,000, rising to $100,000 or more by the end of your career. Having a specialization or holding several accreditations goes a long way to boosting your income.

download our salary guide

types of network administrator

Depending on their specialties, network administrators can function as:

  • network coordinators
  • information analysts
  • information systems (IS) managers
  • information technology (IT) specialists
  • local area network (LAN) administrators and specialists

Companies also hire general network administrators for their daily needs.

Network administrators can work in specific fields, such as:

  • education
  • government
  • healthcare
  • retail
  • finance
  • architecture

While each position requires the same basic skills, you'll study each industry to provide the best services. Some fields require different equipment, stronger firewalls or more frequent maintenance.

network administrator
network administrator

working as a network administrator

Network administrators can work for some of the world's most prestigious companies. Learn more about your daily duties and work environment.


network administrator skills and education

In Canada, the educational requirements to become a network administrator can vary depending on the specific employer and the complexity of the network systems being managed. However, here are the typical educational paths and qualifications that are often considered necessary or beneficial for pursuing a career as a network administrator:

  • Post-Secondary Education: Many network administrators have at least a post-secondary diploma or degree in a relevant field. Common educational paths include:
    • Bachelor's Degree: A bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field can provide a strong foundation for a career in network administration. Some universities and colleges in Canada offer specialized network administration or network security programs.
    • Diploma or Certificate: Many colleges and technical institutes in Canada offer diploma or certificate programs specifically focused on network administration, networking, or IT systems administration. These programs often provide hands-on training and may be a more direct route into the field.
  • Certifications: While not always mandatory, certifications can greatly enhance your qualifications as a network administrator. Popular certifications for network administrators in Canada include:
    • CompTIA Network+: This certification covers networking concepts and is often considered a starting point for those entering the field.
    • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): A widely recognized certification for those working with Cisco networking equipment.
    • Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator or Windows Server: If you work with Microsoft-based networks, these certifications can be valuable.
    • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): For those interested in network security, CISSP is a respected certification.
    • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): Another certification that is relevant for network administrators focused on security.

skills and competencies

On a basic level, you'll need troubleshooting, problem-solving and communication skills. In fact, many network administrators start as IT workers. You'll learn how to use basic software, such as Microsoft Office, and help others with their technology problems. As a network administrator, you'll perform similar tasks on a larger scale.

Likewise, critical thinking helps you find solutions for your client. If hackers keep threatening your company, should you strengthen the security system, install new firewalls or overhaul the network altogether? When new technology rolls out, should you upgrade the network or stick with the system that works? You'll make the best decisions for your team.

Network administrators also write and understand programming languages, including:

  • HTML
  • Ruby
  • Python
  • Java
  • PHP
  • C++

Sometimes, your employer might ask you to complete tasks outside your main responsibilities. They want an expert in nearly everything:

  • programming
  • installing hardware and software
  • troubleshooting devices
  • analyzing data
  • operating telecommunication networks

Finally, network administrators are time management experts. You complete projects on time, and if an issue outside your control forces delays, you'll notify your supervisors and get the project back on track. When you work overtime, your employer notices and appreciates your dedication to your job.


FAQs about working as a network administrator

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about network administrators.


meet a recruiter

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, including information about your technical skills and certifications. Then share it with us to connect with a recruiter and be matched with job opportunities.

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.