What Are the Essential Skills for a System Administrator?

A.E. Freeman

Essential skills for a system administrator are wide-ranging. Ideally, a system administrator will not only know how to design a computer system, but will also know how to communicate with people and train them to use the system properly. Other necessary skills for a system administrator include the ability to solve problems and think critically and analytically. Additionally, he or she should be willing to keep up with changing technology.

A system administrator must be able to diagnose potential causes when computers crash.
A system administrator must be able to diagnose potential causes when computers crash.

The primary responsibility of a system administrator is to keep a computer system for an organization or company running. Necessary skills for a system administrator to keep the system running include installing hardware and software as needed on a computer network. It is the responsibility of the administrator to choose software and hardware that meets the needs of the company and its users, whether the organization is a large multinational company or a small independent business.

Other essential skills for a system administrator include the ability to listen to people and communicate effectively. An administrator needs to hear the problems users are having with a computer system and understand exactly what those problems are so that he can make changes to the system to correct the problem. Additionally, an administrator should have the ability to recognize potential problems before they arise. For example, he should know whether a server will work well with the company's current software before that server is installed.

Problem-solving and analytical thinking are vital skills for a system administrator as well. If users are complaining that their computers crash when they load a new software program, the administrator needs the ability to troubleshoot the issue and develop a solution. Ideally, the process of troubleshooting and solving problems should be easy for a system administrator so that the organization isn't without a computer system or component for too long.

Teaching is another essential skill. An administrator should be able to clearly explain how to use the computer system to non-experts and those who will need to use it to perform their day-to-day tasks. In addition to teaching those without much computer experience, an administrator may need to train their colleagues.

System administrators need to grow with the technology. One way to keep up with changing and advancing technologies is to take courses and earn certifications. The more certifications an administrator earns, the better able she will be to perform her job efficiently. Certifications can also improve her job prospects and make her eligible for promotions.

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