Hurray for the system administrator!
On 31 July we say: “Thank you very much, dear system administrator”. Because it is “System Administrator Appreciation Day”. To celebrate the day, we explain the tasks, training and job opportunities of a sometimes underestimated profession.
Congratulations, dear system administrators! July 31st is your day! For 15 years, the last Friday in July has been officially considered the “System Administrator Appreciation Day”. Originally created as a joke, this day of action has an extremely necessary function: it spotlights the profession of system administrators, who usually work behind the scenes and are therefore all too often forgotten.
We take this day as an opportunity to shed light on the job of system administrator: How have the tasks changed and what job opportunities do system administrators have today?
Job description in demand: System administrators are among the “Most Wanted”
The system administrator is a very responsible position: No company today can do without a professional IT infrastructure. And the IT sector is subject to ever faster change than almost any other. System administrators who understand their subject and are always up to date are therefore in great demand and have very good career prospects.
The IT labour market study by Robert Half also shows this: the personnel service provider surveyed 200 CIOs and CTOs about the current IT labour market for its salary survey. More than one in five of them considers IT administration to be one of the skills most in demand in the IT department. At the same time, system administrators are among the four most difficult specialists to find, according to the study.
Tip: Many IT professionals benefit from the current high demand on the IT labour market and use their market advantage for the next career step or a salary increase.
How to become a system administrator?
There are many ways to become a system administrator. Most system administrators have an education or a degree in IT, but there are also lateral entrants from related natural sciences. In some places, a recognised additional qualification is required for the position of system administrator (sysadmin for short). The prerequisite for participation is a completed training in IT. However, there are no generally recognised formal training criteria for this further training, which lasts an average of one year.
The so-called “work process-oriented further training” (APO) for system administrators is offered by some educational institutions, including the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The candidates take part in workshops and technical discussions and are supported in their self-study by learning process assistants. Important: The certificate (in accordance with EN and ISO standards), which ultimately distinguishes one as a system administrator, is only valid for three to five years and must then be renewed.
If you are interested in the job of system administrator, this point is very important. Because the relatively short period of validity of the certificate shows one of the core requirements of this job: As a sysadmin, you have to stay on the ball in the extremely fast-moving IT world, always be up to date with the latest technology and enjoy taking part in further training on a regular basis.
Tip: A good knowledge of English is also part of the job description of a system administrator. Since programming languages are generally written in English, system administrators must have a good command of the English language.
Constant change: The system administrator’s tasks
A system administrator is responsible for the installation, configuration and operability of all IT systems and components in a company. This applies to the hardware and software and also includes the monitoring of ongoing operations including automatic updates and backups. As a system administrator, you must be proficient in various programming languages and be familiar with databases and security protocols. Specialization options are available for the focal points operating systems, databases, software applications, storage systems, web servers/mail systems and networks/infrastructure.
As a sysadmin, you will analyse and evaluate the hardware and software requirements of a company, plan the necessary purchases and make your own adjustments. You manage the access rights of employees and programs to all applications and are also responsible for data backup. Errors and malfunctions must be detected, analyzed and corrected quickly. Afterwards, the sysadmin must record these errors in a corresponding documentation, which the support can access for troubleshooting.
In addition, the job description of a system administrator also includes the task of implementing new security concepts. Sysadmins take and check measures against external and internal attacks.
Trend and development: System administrators in a state of flux
For the industry giant Cisco, IT is undergoing a transformation from a tactical system administrator to a service broker. A few years ago, the company reacted to company inquiries on a case-by-case basis. Today, the system administrator is developing a flexible infrastructure and a cloud offering (including recommended partners, services, solutions, models and guidelines) from which other users in the company can choose the right solution for them. Cisco expects cloud computing technology to account for nearly 30% of total IT spending by 2020.
Given the rapid pace of technological development, system administrators are a profession with very good prospects for the future. Due to the frequently changing tasks, boredom is a no-no here.
With this in mind, we wish all system administrators a happy “holiday” and hope that your colleagues have thought of you!
Do you have questions about the job as a system administrator or are you looking for a new professional challenge? Robert Half’s consultants will be happy to help you plan your career. We look forward to hearing from you.
Core skills every project manager needs
For many designers and engineers, it was a foregone conclusion for a long time: if you are technically brilliant, you may and can also manage projects. But the wind has changed: project managers today are expected to provide more than just specialist knowledge.
The choice was made quickly. The best programmer was appointed head of the software project. The calculation: Whoever is familiar with the complicated programming language can take the project over all hurdles. A gross misjudgement. Because the project manager had a hard time with the scheduling, a business plan was completely missing in his project. Worse still: The computer scientist cut a bad figure in the discussions with the future users – all of them business economists. Hilflos it stood opposite the many change desires of the users. “Male, engineer, technical ace” – the former success formula for project management careers no longer applies.
Today, project managers must be able to do more than just solve technical problems. “A project is like a small company with a managing director who can control the project methodically and lead the people involved,” explains project professional Gaston Saborowski, consultant at Next Level Consulting. The project manager must therefore be able to master and apply the tools of project management. This includes working techniques such as requirements management, goal definition, project structure planning, risk analysis, stakeholder management and budget controlling. The project manager must also lead, i.e. select personnel, motivate employees, resolve conflicts, negotiate with interest groups and sell the project well to the outside world. Saborowski puts today’s requirements on a rule of thumb: One third methodological knowledge, one third communication skills, tact and diplomatic skills, and only one third specialist knowledge of the project.