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Network Administrator vs System Administrator

alsonalson Member Posts: 32 ■■□□□□□□□□
I really need a very clear definition for both positions. what's the difference, why those two terms are still confusing a lot of people including me?

I've been trying to search the internet to get a clear description but it's still vague.

in terms of future, is any of them better than the other? what both do in a network environment?

Most importantly, what certifications should be earned for both?


I really appreciate any clarification.

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    RouteMyPacketRouteMyPacket Member Posts: 1,104
    "Network", "Systems".....pretty simple really. One deals with Systems (VMware, Servers bla bla) while the other deals with Networks (Cisco, Juniper, Brocade bla bla).

    Now the title means nothing, a lot of companies confuse and or combine the two but YOU need to decide what you want to pursue because you do have a choice.
    Modularity and Design Simplicity:

    Think of the 2:00 a.m. test—if you were awakened in the
    middle of the night because of a network problem and had to figure out the
    traffic flows in your network while you were half asleep, could you do it?
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    alsonalson Member Posts: 32 ■■□□□□□□□□
    you were very specific in a few words, thanks a lot :)

    I will go for System Administrator. If i don't have much information about servers, what do you think, can i make it self study or it's better to take the course? if course is needed, where is the best place to go?
    I'm living in California, LA.

    By the way, what certs are needed?
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    stryder144stryder144 Member Posts: 1,684 ■■■■■■■■□□
    alson...system admins typically go for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate in Windows Server 2008 or 2012. CompTIA Linux+ or Redhat Certified System Administrator. Having the MCSA and the RHCSA will get you interviews. What will move you past the interview stage, with no experience, is labbing. Setting up your own home lab, experimenting with the information given in the various books you can use for self-study, and breaking things will give you some of the technical experience you will need to truly understand the technology. A lot of people can tell a paper tiger from someone who has set things up, broken them and fixed them.
    The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position. ~ Leo Buscaglia

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    Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,310 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Totally company specific. I'm looking for a new job now and I see A LOT of positions for network admins as the title and they are what I'd describe as a systems admin. I even saw one last night for a network engineer that was monitoring/patching windows servers, user support, setting up desktops, etc. It is always worth it to read the full job description and see how it matches against what you are looking for.
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    jibbajabbajibbajabba Member Posts: 4,317 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Last time I saw a position advertised as "Systems Administrator" must have been to Windows NT times. Job titles are meaningless I think .. All depends on the job descriptions :)

    Just as an example. I had roles called

    Systems Administrator
    Server Administrator
    Systems Analyst
    Server Analyst
    Systems Engineer
    Infrastructure Engineer

    But essentially it was all the same - resetting passwords and chase up people with filled up mailboxes or roaming profiles ...
    My own knowledge base made public: http://open902.com :p
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    Master Of PuppetsMaster Of Puppets Member Posts: 1,210
    Pay attention to the job responsibilities. In most cases the job title won't be what you really do. Heck, the only thing I haven't been called yet is a jedi.
    Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.
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    alsonalson Member Posts: 32 ■■□□□□□□□□
    that's really helpful, thank you all.

    sorry for another stupid question, I had MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer), that was in 2002.

    Is there (any way) to upgrade from that obsolete certificate to the new MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert)?
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    Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,310 ■■■■■■■■□□
    From NT 4? I don't believe so. There was once upon a time an upgrade to the 2003 exams that was offered but it should be long gone by now. You'd have to start from scratch.
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    alsonalson Member Posts: 32 ■■□□□□□□□□
    It seems i have to.. thank you all for the sharing
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    RHELRHEL Member Posts: 195 ■■■□□□□□□□
    In my mind, I see Network Admin = manages network infrastructure such as switches, firewalls, cabling, etc. Systems Admin = managing enterprise systems that run on servers -- hardware and software, Windows, UNIX, Linux.

    These are just my experiences, though, as a sysadmin. Truthfully, a company can attach any title to any job description... In my experience, I only touch UNIX/Linux OS -- vendor takes care of hardware, I do OS software and clustering. Apps people handle apps, storage team handles the storage, networking team handles the networking, backup team handles backups, engineering team specs out requirements and prepares engineering documents for projects, etc. However, in many cases, someone w/ my same title could do all of these things and more. I bet in some cases, companies use the "system admin" title for help desk work.

    Trust the job description and take the title with a grain of salt.
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    alsonalson Member Posts: 32 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Thank you RHEL, you are speaking right. Companies are mixing the job titles with the real tasks assigned, that's why i "was" confused, but every one here helped out to clear the confusion.
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    linuxloverlinuxlover Banned Posts: 228
    Network Technician comes before Network Admin, you can't skip that part like you can in the System realm. I like to think the career path as Technician -> Admin -> Architect, Technician being a NOC guy pulling cable runs, installing routers, monitoring DC, handling networking support calls... Admin being someone managing the NOC team as well as being responsible for the DC, handling the infrastructure, highly skilled networking guy and Architect being someone designing new solutions, working closely with the MD and Admins.

    In the system realm I see it as Support (1st, 2nd, 3rd) -> Admin (Junior Admin, Admin, Senior Admin) -> Architect, similar to Networking. The role of a Sys Admin is much more common than the one of a Network Admin, simply because there are more companies outsourcing their networking to others than managing them themselves. Like in one small DC you have 100 colo companies. All of them will have someone hired to perform their own system administration while the networking part is handled by the DC. So each of these companies can hire John Doe to be their own system administrator and they set their own list of responsibilities, each different from company to company. One company will have their Sys Admin manage their MS Exchange on Server 2008, another one will have theirs manage cPanel/WHM and Kayako on CentOS, another one will have their manage their website and update the content and so forth...

    So Sys Admin role varies from company to company, depending on their requirements and can mean anything from making coffee and making sure Kaspersky is updated to managing hundreds of VMs, while Network Admin role is more or less similar throughout the IT field simply because of the nature of the job. And while you can land a Sys Admin job with your CompTIA certs and very little actual experience, you can't just suddenly become a Network Admin, that's more serious business. I'm not trying to belittle the Sys Admin role as I'm working towards becoming one, but I'm just trying to point out how people throw around these titles as they see fit, simply because they can. Nobody will award you a Network Admin title just like that.

    So I guess that's why there isn't a definite/absolute answer to the question "How do I become a Sys Admin?", because there are no standards defining that role, because those definitions depend on the requirements and are set by companies themselves.
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