Network Administrator: Everything You Need To Be Successful

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    f you’re looking for a job where you can work with computers, it might be good to consider becoming a network administrator. This job is part of the Information Technology (IT) field and can require a lot of problem solving as you will be addressing issues in both the computer hardware and software. 

    There’s many job titles associated with this role, such as information system technician, junior network analyst, network support specialist and more. This job is necessary work, as the majority of companies work off computers. They will need people to help them with it, otherwise, how will they operate? In this blog, we’ll cover key information including: 

    • What does a network administrator do?
    • How to become a network administrator: training, education and certification
    • Salary, where to work and job prospects
    • How to prepare for the job interview 
    • 10 interview questions and answers with examples 

    What does a network administrator do? 

    Your job can vary depending on which company you’re working with. Each has different computers that they use, different networks that they link to and the types of hardware and software they use. 

    There are essential duties, however, which can include the following:

    • Install hardware and networking and operating system software (such as Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome and Linux) 
    • Work with local area networks (LAN) or wide area networks (WAN) 
    • Maintain computer workstations, networks and other equipment such as printers
    • Configure networking hardware such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and wireless access points
    • Assess and diagnose problems and replace or upgrade faulty parts 
    • Help users who are having any issues 

    Network administrators will also need to keep up with the latest technology as it rapidly changes, and implement that into their job accordingly. They often attend training courses and read the latest news and journals related to computers to stay up to date. 

    How to become a network administrator: training, education and certification 

    Most people who work as a network administrator have some post-secondary education in the areas of information technology or computer science. Many people in Canada working in the field have a college diploma in network administration to get the necessary knowledge and skills that are directly related to the job.  

    Since this job is extremely hands-on, it’s important to get some experience working with network systems. If you go the college diploma route, make sure you choose a program that has a practicum so you can get the work experience that employers are looking for. 

    In Alberta, some employers will require certifications of specific skills such as Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), so it’s important to take initiative to cover your bases.  

    Information Systems Professionals are also certified in the province and across the country by the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS). You should also have a type of CompTIA certification, as it’s the industry standard for launching your career as an IT professional. 

    Salary, where to work and job prospects

    The starting wage for a computer network administrator is $28.63 per hour and can go up to $42.50 per hour. On average, the wage for a full-time worker in Alberta is $35.12 per hour or $68,550.00 per year as a salary, according to ALIS

    Since nearly every job requires at least some computer work, there’s a variety of places that will need the skills and expertise of a network administrator. These include scientific and technical services, public administration, educational institutes and oil and gas companies to name a few. You also have the option of being self-employed, working as an independent contractor. 

    There are some opportunities to work from home, but whether that’s possible or not is heavily dependent on the company’s network infrastructure, and whether they have remote systems in place (if not, you could do that for them). 

    Jobs in network administration have decent prospects over the next three years, as employment is expected to remain stable and several positions will open up, according to the government of Canada. In Alberta, there will be nearly a 2 per cent growth each year from 2019 to 2023 due to the increase in the amount of jobs that will be available. 

    How to prepare for the job interview 

    The interview is perhaps the most stressful part of any career path, and perhaps even more for network administrators as they will need to discuss their technical skills and maybe even give a demonstration. 

    Think about your experience so far and how you tackle your tasks. What makes you and your approach unique from others? You can start by thinking about and reflecting on your technique. Maybe you’ve done something innovative, and solved a problem in a way that others didn’t think of. Think about the job you’re applying for, and why they would want to hire you. 

    Once you’ve established the important things that make you stand out, It will be easier to answer the interviewer’s questions. Remember to practice your responses, be friendly and professional, and of course, dress appropriately. 

    10 interview questions with example answers 

    • What experience do you have? 

    While you need to give good answers to the rest of the interview too, this is really your time to shine. Talk about the experience, education and qualifications that you have that’s most relevant to this role, so the interviewer can see why you’re a good fit. 

    “I got my Network Administrator diploma from ABM college, and during my time there I was able to get real experience through a practicum which prepared me for doing the job. I worked at Company X and dealt with enterprise CISCO networks and advanced tasks in MSCA. I was able to troubleshoot, configure and install Windows servers and successfully implemented security networks. As well, I have a CompTIA A+ certificate allowing me to work with a variety of infrastructures.”

    • What made you want to work in this field? 

    Here, the employer likely wants to know what specifically made you interested in wanting to be a network administrator. Where did it start, what is it about the job that you’re passionate about and what drives you? 

    “I always enjoyed doing problem-solving activities for fun, like doing puzzles when I was young. As I got older I started taking an interest in computers and hardware. A few years ago I decided to build my own PC, and that was when I realized that I really liked doing the more hands-on stuff. I was always helping friends and family with their computer issues and I really enjoyed doing that.” 

    • How do you keep current with your technical skills? 

    What the employer really wants to know here is whether you’ll be a good investment for the long term, and whether or not you’re going to keep the systems up-to-date. If the technology falls behind, then they fall behind, which is undesirable for them. 

    “I like to read a lot of blogs and news on the latest technology, as well as watching videos to get more information. I often frequent open source websites and social media pages that talk about it, as well as word-of-mouth. I know some people who have worked in network administration for a while, and if they talk about something new I’ll research it as soon as possible, and how I can implement it for our use.” 

    • How do you handle pressure? 

    This is an important question for the interviewer to ask you because with all the technical bugs you’ll encounter on a daily basis, it can get frustrating. They want to know that you can keep your cool when things get tough. 

    “I like to take deep breaths and think about how I can approach all the tasks I have and things I need to do, and get what’s most urgent done first. If I’m dealing with something that’s proving to be a little difficult, I think about all the logical steps I can take to retrace the steps and identify any errors that may have happened along the way. That keeps me calm and allows me to work in a more productive manner.” 

    • Why do you want to work for our company?

    The interviewer wants to know that you’ve done your research and have an appropriate amount of knowledge about the company. Tell them what made you interested in applying for the position and how you can help them going forward. 

    “Something about the company that stood out to me was your work in assisting in the healthcare industry. I’ve always wanted to help people, and I saw this as an opportunity to help contribute with running all your operations smoothly. Being interested in the work I’m doing, and knowing that the work at this company has a real impact increases my motivation and will allow me to excel in what I do.” 

    • Tell me about a skill that you need to improve on

    Nobody’s perfect, and the employer knows this. The key to answering this well is to not be afraid of this question, and don’t avoid it either. Answer the question head on, but make sure that what you say isn’t crucial to the job that you’re applying for. 

    “When it comes to operating systems, something that I need a bit more practice with is Linux. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with it as much as the other operating systems. I need to improve on that because I never know when I may come across it and have to resolve a problem. I’m actively learning by running it on a small computer at home and figuring out its complexities.” 

    • What is a proxy server?

    Since this is a technical job, the employer will ask you about your knowledge and what you know about certain elements. It doesn’t have to be this question in particular, but it could be anything else about network administration that they expect you to know, so be prepared and brush up on the concepts.

    “It’s something that sits in between the user and the website they visit. It can be used to build a firewall and stops attackers from invading private networks. Whenever a user wants to do something, the request goes through the proxy server first, which then processes what the user wants and then sends it to the internet. It also does the same thing in reverse, if a web server wants to send information to the user, it goes through the proxy first. It can act like a VPN as well, by hiding the user’s IP address.” 

    • How does two-factor authentication work? 

    Another one of those questions directly related to the job. The interviewer may ask you a few of these, just to gauge your breadth of knowledge and see what you know about different areas of network administration and security. 

    “It’s when a user essentially needs to go through two steps to gain access to an account. One step is, of course, the password. The other step can be a variety of things such as a security question, a verification code or PIN. In some cases it can also be a biometric token such as a fingerprint or voice recognition.”

    • What do you like and dislike the most about working in this job?

    This might be one of the ones that comes across as a trick question, but it’s not. It can be used to get to know more about your personality and the type of person you are in the role, and it might even give an idea about how you would fit in the company and work in the team, especially if there are other network administrators. 

    “What I like the most about this job is that I’m always on the go and I’m always learning something new, it keeps it thrilling and my mind is constantly working. What I dislike is that sometimes a user will be impatient while I’m trying to fix something. I just politely reassure them that it will be done soon and they’ll get back to what they were doing.” 

    • You come across a problem that you don’t understand. What would you do to try to solve it?

    The employer will ask this question to assess your analytical skills and process of problem solving. They want to know you can think on your feet when the situation calls for it. To answer this question, you can also give an example of something like this that’s happened to you in the past. 

    “First, I would try to understand what the problem is and why it needs to be solved. What’s the context, the end goal, or the result that we’re trying to achieve from fixing it. I would then analyze the main components of the issue - what are the individual parts that make it work? Address those first for any errors and then work my way from there.” 

    We hope this gave you some insight into what it takes to be a network administrator. For more helpful information, you can read how to be a network administrator and 6 effective tips to ace a video interview easily. 

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