To work as a computer systems administrator, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
- have a bachelor's degree.
Education after high school
Most new computer systems administrators have at least a bachelor's degree. In the past, formal training was not important and analysts learned on the job. Now, with increasingly complex computing systems and a growing number of college-trained applicants, a bachelor's degree is the usual way to prepare.
The most common areas of study are computer science, information science, and management information systems (MIS). However, you can have a bachelor's degree in any area as long as you take computer courses.
Some people work their way up to this occupation. They work in several computer jobs, learning new skills at each one. Eventually, you have enough knowledge to move into a systems administrator position. You can also develop advanced computer skills in other occupations and then transfer over to systems analysis.
You should consider participating in an internship while in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.
New graduates may work under the guidance of experienced administrators. You usually start out performing routine maintenance of computer systems and other "behind the scenes" work. In large companies, you may also receive formal classroom training. You get more independence and responsibility as you gain knowledge and experience. Training may last up to three months.
Because of the fast changing nature of this field, employers often offer training in the newest computer technologies, languages, and applications.
Some branches of the military train people to be computer systems specialists. Training lasts from seven to 13 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.
Some branches of the military train people to be computer systems officers. Training lasts from five to 18 weeks, depending on your specialty. You need at least a bachelor's degree to enter this military occupation.