Henry Dalziel | Information Security Careers, Latest InfoSec News | July 26, 2013
Yes, indeed, that famous day has come around again! Happy SysAdmin Day! Before you start thinking that this is some sort of novelty and rare humor from the IT world, you are wrong, July 26th 2013 will be the 14th Annual System Administrator Day. Indeed, this will be a day of commemoration, celebration – mixed with a deep gratitude to our much loved (and highly undervalued) system admins.
System administrators are rather like teachers – completely under appreciated and undervalued. We, however, at Concise Courses, with our absolute unswerving allegiance to the IT community, would like to take our cyber white, black, grey (and even red since we are on the subject) ‘hats-off’ to all system admins around the world.
A brief world about having a career as a system admin
Although our focus is almost entirely on Information Security, we constantly notice is that career prospects for InfoSec professionals is just as good as for system admins. If you are on the fence about which direction your career should go (perhaps you just finished school) then we’d highly encourage you to take a look at becoming a system admin – and, of course getting into the security space!
Clearly security, networking and the overall system administration are all interconnected, but certain folks specialize within system administration. According to data from recruiting and staffing specialist Robert Half Technology, (who, by the way, we based our IT security cert salary ranges from) state that in 2013, Network Administrators in the US can expect a salary of between $62,750 to $93,250! Not bad at all. Now, clearly, like any profession, that is all dependent on experience, training etc. – and also where you live. Living on the seaboards tends to pay more than in the Mid West for example.
Being a system administrator means that along with your team, or acting alone, you will design, construct, and maintain your organizations computer systems and networks. Similar titles for the profession include IT systems administrator or simply sysadmin. Responsibilities of being a system administrator vary widely from one organization to another, and organizational culture can play a pretty major role.
If you’d like a career as a System Administrator we recommend that you familiarize yourself (as best you can) with understanding how to install, support and maintain servers or other computer systems, and develop ‘worst-case’ plans in the event of power outages, backup procedures and any other infrastructure problems – not least that of security! In fact, we here at Concise Courses really place the two professions as ‘one and all’ because they are literally in tandem with each other, i.e. you can’t have a system if you don’t have security for that system to operate within.
If you are young and looking to start a career as a system administrator, or wanting to change direction then we would also strongly encourage you to create a lab at home with old PC equipment so at the very least you can understand and get your hands dirty with some basic networking. Set-up an apache server(s) and get familiar with centOS and other common server platforms. Some programming would be helpful, as would certifications!
System admin certifications
As we said before, InfoSec certs are more our thing here at Concise Courses, but here are a few system admin certs that you might find useful to research. If Linux is your preference, then take a look at Red Hat Certified System Administrator (often abbreviated to RHCSA). Our advice would be to research RH033 Red Hat Linux Essentials, RH131 Red Hat Linux System Administration and RH253 Red Hat Linux Networking Services and Security. Whilst Red Hat Certifications are absolutely an excellent choice, to be as distribution-independent as possible, we would also recommend the Linux Professional Institute Certifications (LPIC). The LPIC has three stages, which are: LPIC-1 Junior Level Linux Certification, LPIC-2 Advanced Level Linux Certification and LPIC-3 Senior Level Linux Certification.
As an example, the last certification mentioned in the paragraph above, the LPIC-3, is aimed for the “enterprise-level” Linux professional. The program and cert has been developed with the advice of many active Linux practitioners within the industry, i.e. the guys that are actually running the Internet and is an excellent qualification to have attained.
If you are a system admin, Happy SysAdmin Day! Please tell us what life is like! Are you happy with your career? What would you change if you could? We’d love to hear from you.