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Computer Network, Systems, and Database Administrators - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Entry-level network and computer systems administrators are involved in routine maintenance and monitoring of computer systems. After gaining experience and expertise, they are often able to advance to more senior-level positions. They may also advance to supervisory positions.

Database administrators and network architects may advance into managerial positions, such as chief technology officer, on the basis of their experience. Computer specialists with work experience and considerable expertise in a particular area may find opportunities as independent consultants.

Computer security specialists can advance into supervisory positions, or may move into other occupations, such as computer systems analysts.

Employment
Computer network, systems, and database administrators held about 961,200 jobs in 2008. Of these, 339,500 were network and computer systems administrators, 120,400 were database administrators, and 292,000 were network and data communications analysts. In addition, about 209,300 were classified as “computer specialists, all other,” a residual category.

These workers were employed in a wide range of industries. About 14 percent of all computer network, systems, and database administrators were in computer systems design and related services. Substantial numbers of these workers were also employed in telecommunications companies, financial firms and insurance providers, business management organizations, schools, and government agencies. About 7 percent were self-employed.

Job Outlook
Employment is expected to grow much faster than the average, and job prospects should be excellent.

Job Growth
Overall employment of computer network, systems, and database administrators is projected to increase by 30 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. In addition, this occupation will add 286,600 new jobs over that period. Growth, however, will vary by specialty.

Employment of network and computer systems administrators is expected to increase by 23 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. Computer networks are an integral part of business, and demand for these workers will increase as firms continue to invest in new technologies. The increasing adoption of mobile technologies means that more establishments will use the Internet to conduct business online. This growth translates into a need for systems administrators who can help organizations use technology to communicate with employees, clients, and consumers. Growth will also be driven by the increasing need for information security. As cyber attacks become more sophisticated, demand will increase for workers with security skills.

Employment of database administrators is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average. Demand for these workers is expected to increase as organizations need to store, organize, and analyze increasing amounts of data. In addition, as more databases are connected to the Internet, and as data security becomes increasingly important, a growing number of these workers will be needed to protect databases from attack.

Employment of network systems and data communications analysts is projected to increase by 53 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than the average and places it among the fastest growing of all occupations. This occupational category includes network architects and engineers, as well as Web administrators and developers. Demand for network architects and engineers will increase as organizations continue to upgrade their IT capacity and incorporate the newest technologies. The growing reliance on wireless networks will result in a need for many more of these workers. Workers with knowledge of information security also will be in demand, as computer networks transmit an increasing amount of sensitive data.

Demand for Web administrators and Web developers will also be strong. More of these workers will be needed to accommodate the increasing amount of data sent over the Internet, as well as the growing number of Internet users. In addition, as the number of services provided over the Internet expands, Web administrators and developers will continue to see employment increases.

Growth in computer network, systems, and database administrators will be rapid in the computer systems design, data processing and hosting, software publishing, and technical consulting industries, as these types of establishments utilize or provide an increasing array of IT services. Growth will also be rapid in healthcare, as these organizations look to increase their efficiency and improve patient care through the use of information systems and other technology.

Growth in this occupation may be tempered somewhat by offshore outsourcing, as firms transfer work to countries with lower-prevailing wages and highly skilled work forces. In addition, the consolidation of IT services may increase efficiency, reducing the demand for workers.

Computer network, systems, and database administrators should continue to enjoy excellent job prospects. In general, applicants with a college degree and certification will have the best opportunities. However, for some of these occupations, opportunities will be available for applicants with related work experience. Job openings in these occupations will be the result of strong employment growth, as well as the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.

Earnings
Median annual wages of network and computer systems administrators were $66,310 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $51,690 and $84,110. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,070.

Median annual wages of database administrators were $69,740 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $52,340 and $91,850. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,900, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $111,950. In May 2008, median annual wages of database administrators employed in computer systems design and related services were $78,510, and for those in management of companies and enterprises, wages were $74,730.

Median annual wages of network systems and data communication analysts were $71,100 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $54,330 and $90,740. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $110,920. These wages encompass network architects, telecommunications specialists, Webmasters, and Web developers.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Computer and Information Science
Information and Computer Science (ICS) or Computer and Information Science (CIS) is a field that emphasizes both computing and informatics, upholding the strong association between the fields of information sciences and computer sciences and treating computers as a tool rather than a field. Some universities ...more
Information Technology
Information Technology encompasses many aspects of computing and technology, and the term is more recognizable than ever before. The information technology umbrella can be quite large, covering many fields. IT professionals perform a variety of duties that range from installing applications to designing ...more
Network Design and Administration
Network technicians make sure the network hardware and software are operating properly so people in your organization get the information they need when they need it. Using cable, fiber optics or even wireless communication, you connect users to your company's computer system. You will thoroughly understand ...more
Webmaster and Web Management
The Webmaster, also called the system administrator, the author, or the website administrator, is the person responsible for designing, developing, marketing, or maintaining a website. Webmasters are practitioners of web communication. Typically, they are generalists with HTML expertise who manage ...more