How to become a system administrator: Everything you need to know

How to become a system administrator

Many imagine the system administrator as a boy who, at the request of his boss, pulls out jammed pieces of paper from the printer. In fact, the profession of system administrator implies the presence of a good bag of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. You need to learn this. Let's see where and how to do it.

Preschool and Elementary School

At what age to study technology? The sooner the better! Now two-year-old children are busy with tablets in full swing, so by the age of six, it’s already quite possible to start programming.

ScratchJR is ideal for a start; its implementation is available on almost any platform, including iOS and Android. This is a graphical programming language in which you can write a program, create a game, and even implement some more serious projects.

Following you can go to Scratch. I can recommend the Scratch Programming course and Denis Golikov’s books. Their peculiarity lies in the fact that a young programmer can study Scratch on their own, without the participation of adults, the main thing is to be able to read.

Another thing you can get to know from a young age is the Arduino board. In my opinion, the best book on this platform is the “Practical Arduino Encyclopedia” by Putin and Binyakovsky (the second edition of 2019 is currently relevant). There are also sets of boards and books. For example, “ Scratch + Arduino. Set for young designers "and" Scratch + Arduino. 18 projects for young programmers + book. ”

High School

Students of computer science at school are divided into two groups: those who are lucky, and everyone else. Lucky people learn programming languages, the basics of networking, computer devices, and much more. Those less fortunate draw in Paint and type in Word. Better than nothing, but still not enough for the future IT specialist.

From the age of twelve people themselves already understand what is most interesting to him, and if these are computers, then parents should take care that he receives a normal technical education. At the same time, grades in mathematics and computer science are not an indicator at all, since a lot here depends on the teacher and his ability to interest school children in their subject.

How to choose courses

Now there are a lot of courses where a student can get additional knowledge. Alas, often these courses are completely useless. The fact is that many of them are, in fact, scientific-entertaining circles. The teachers there have trivially tied hands: they are forbidden to give wards a serious load. Because of this, it is impossible to conduct classes in the form of lectures or lessons, give homework, or arrange to test.

Sometimes talented teachers manage to convey knowledge in a playful and entertaining way to schoolchildren without straining their obligation, but often in such circles children simply stupidly spend time. Valuable knowledge is obtained only by one who is willing to engage in it himself.

However, all this does not mean that there are no good schools that can not only entertain children but also give them useful knowledge. Here is an example:

  • Cisco Networking Academy. My native academy, in which I began my journey and now help others to start. The main plus of the academy is its biennially updated network administration courses. Forms of verification - control and exams. Age - from 12 years (sometimes from 10 years).

In general, choose wisely! We need to look for schools that have long been on the market, preferably international and with a system of enrollment based on preliminary tests. By the way, testing is not just additional stress: it is better to fail the test once than to suffer for a whole year without understanding anything in the classroom.

Also, be sure to see who the teacher is. If his name and surname are not googled - this is a bad sign. It may be worthwhile to personally communicate with teachers and find out what and how they will teach. But paying attention to the certificates and thank-you notes posted on the Internet on the official website does not make sense at all.

What to study?

When choosing a school or drawing up a homework plan, preference is given to basic knowledge that will be useful to any IT person. During the training, fashionable technologies will have time to change, but some things will always come in handy:

  • device and principles of computer operation;
  • network basics;
  • operating systems (Windows and Linux);
  • basic principles of information security;
  • virtualization concept;
  • English (this is generally the key to everything).

Additionally, you can get acquainted with programming and web development - at least at the level of installation and configuration of the site engine.

Self Education

There are a huge number of resources that allow you to learn the basics of IT, both free and paid. And sometimes on paid ones they give something for nothing.

For example, Udemy is an excellent portal with a large number of free and paid courses, grades, and a demonstration of the learning process. Of the interesting areas, the following can be noted:

  • IoT Basics at Arduino Uno ;
  • Web development for beginners: HTML and CSS ;
  • Internet security ;
  • Safety of industrial control systems. Introductory course ;
  • Programming in Python ;
  • Security analysis of web projects ;
  • Introduction to Linux ;
  • Linux programming basics.
All of the above-mentioned courses are available on Udemy.

There are other StepikSkillshareand Coursera. Khan Academy deserves special mention, which does not take the money and is able to replace not only computer science but also other subjects, including elementary courses of the university. 

And of course, YouTube is an inexhaustible source of not only entertainment but also knowledge. Look for the right topic - you will surely find a lot of useful things.

As for books, the choice here is huge, but for the most part not for school age. However, for those older, I recommend learning to read adult literature and get used to it.

Well, for eleventh graders, the advice is simple: you need to read and download skills in your free time, but only if it is. Preparing for the exam is, whatever one may say, the main task, which is critical for entering a university. In the tenth grade, you can still do projects and take courses, but in the eleventh, you will have to forget about all this.

College or University?

To enter a university, in general, is a separate issue that is worth considering. Perhaps college is enough, especially if you would like to quickly start working and earn money. Let's see what are the advantages and disadvantages of both types of establishments.



  • only practical knowledge;
  • cheaper than paid education at the university.

  • secondary education, not higher;
  • does not provide deep theoretical knowledge;


  • higher education;
  • a large amount of knowledge;
  • the opportunity to get a place in the hostel;
  • an opportunity to continue the scientific activity.
  • high competition for budget departments, with a hostel - even more;
  • high price for paid tuition.

If you want to become a system administrator you can pursue a degree like Computer science engineering in or B.E.

You can also pursue B.E or degree In information technology in order to become a system administrator.

Now you must be thinking from where to purchase degree a University or College. I prefer you must take a degree from bigger Universities because according to me, a university can provide more practical knowledge than a simple college.

Self Learning

No matter where you study, you will probably encounter the problem of obsolescence of information. Technology is changing so fast that course programs can't keep up with them. If in mathematics or physics a five-year lag means nothing, in the case of IT it can lead to something completely outdated being taught. So keep updating yourself.

Here is a shortlist of basic knowledge and skills that will definitely come in handy if you are going to look for a job as a system administrator. It is sorted from simple to complex.

  • PC device (assembly-disassembly);
  • the ability to lay a twisted pair, mount a power outlet, compress the RJ45 connector;
  • Windows operating systems
  • Linux operating systems
  • Ability to work with automation scripts and command shell (PowerShell for Windows, Bash for Linux);
  • network equipment setup (routers, access points);
  • knowledge of IP-telephony and the ability to work with it;
  • knowledge of server architecture, ability to handle at least IIS, Nginx, Apache, and their additional modules;
  • basic principles of building a network (understanding what a network protocol is, and knowledge of the OSI model);
  • work with protocols at OSI levels (understand what it is and why you need it);
  • OSI protocol configuration
  • routing protocols (static and dynamic);
  • classification of dynamic protocols (distance-vector protocols and protocols of the status of communication channels);
  • protocol settings;
  • network security (basic principles);
  • setting firewalls;
  • virtualization and containerization.
And additionally

Programming. System administrators sometimes have to optimize processes, and it also comes to coding. It doesn’t hurt the knowledge of any scripting language, for example, Python. It is easy to start programming on it, and the supply of possibilities is huge.

English. This is an absolute must-have. Without a language, the administrator is nowhere. But it is not necessary to finish up to fluency: for a start, basic knowledge is enough (level B).

Web development. It is not necessary to go deeper into programming, but having HTML and CSS layout skills will not hurt, as well as understanding how the site engine and database work.

The basics of pedagogy. You will need it. Better yet, learn the basics of meditation right away!


How to understand whether they will force you to crawl under tables with a skein of twisted pair in your teeth, and then repair the site that the director’s nephew riveted on your knee, or will they direct you to administer a highly loaded server cluster? This is perhaps the main thing that worries young system administrators when looking for work.

The simplest guideline is the size of the organization. If in a small office you will be occupied with everything at all - to the best of your abilities and patience, then in a large office there are many more chances to fall into the hands of senior specialists. They will tell you what to do, and you will not only work but also learn from them. For the first years of a career, this is much more valuable. You come as a junior, but you leave as a senior!

But you need to pay attention not only to the size of the company but also to its profile. For example, there are very small offices that work with large customers, so the requirements for technical personnel there are extremely high. There are huge international corporations in which the demand is much lower, and the roles of technical personnel are either blurred or distributed among employees, and each performs its own small separate function.

By the way, work for the system administrator is not only in private organizations but also in government agencies. And they, too, are different, with different specializations, different approaches, and different levels of leadership competence.

It’s impossible to determine in advance where you will go. At the interview, it may seem that he is a paradise for a young sensible specialist, but in reality, you will find yourself in a technical department that resembles a nursing home - both in terms of contingent and approach to work. But it happens the other way around. Therefore, you need to focus primarily on the feedback of those employees who have already worked in this company.

In short, if you have a school in front of you, wholesalers of auto parts, or a perfume salon - you are waiting for sites and refilling cartridges in printers. If it is a major integrator, hosting provider, IT vendor, the work will most likely be more interesting and more similar to system administration.

And in the general case, the “need to start somewhere” approach does not work in the best way. There is a great chance that you will simply waste some precious years, do not learn anything, and get a dubious entry in the workbook. So the advice is simple: look where you're going.


So, it has been said a lot, let's try to highlight the main thoughts.

  • The system administrator is not a programmer, and the training here will be different. Although there are certainly intersections.
  • Not all IT schools are useful: in order to have results, you need to look, they provide training there or mostly entertainment.
  • The choice between university and college is a complicated thing and depends on personal circumstances. If possible - go to college, but college is not a sentence. The main value is your skills, not the crust.
  • Get a job where there is a chance to learn something. Even small organizations are different.
  • Self-education is everything. Try to learn everything that you get. The path of the IT specialist in continuous self-development.
  • Do not let the "office" use you. If you feel that you are not growing as a professional, go away, do not waste your time and energy in the wrong place.

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